Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members have asked President Mokgweetsi Masisi to have a coffee meeting with his predecessor, Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama to solve their differences. Party loyalists fear that the perceived animosity “is likely to divide the party going to next year’s party congress and general elections”.
The decision was taken by the party this week in a meeting between President Masisi and BDP key figures who included, cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament, and Central Committee Members. The purpose of the meeting was to deliver a thank you message from the president to his party members after 100 days in office. The idea calling for the two leaders to have a dialogue is said to have been tabled by Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security Patrick Ralotsia, seconded by the party chief whip, Liakat Kablay and Lieutenant General Tebogo Masire.
“The idea is for them to iron out their differences that we see and read about. They must face each other man to man – and the president has agreed with the suggestion. He says he believes in dialogue, he nonetheless said there is no beef between them, but they will talk,” a source who attended the meeting held at the Pavilion said. The party members say the meeting of the two is imperative as it will help the two leaders to find a common ground hence stabilise the party.
“It is for the good of the party. Whether they have beef or not, the meeting will restore confidence to the BDP members, these are leaders and any quarrel between them has potential effect on the general membership,” highlighted a source. Among the issues that have been hinted to have created a standoff between the former confidantes is the refusal to avail a chopper to the former president and reversal of a number of Khama decisions by the incumbent.
KHAMA’S CHAIRMANSHIP BID WILL NOT BE SUPPORTED
The four hour meeting also addressed the party’s next year elective congress. Those who attended the meeting have resolved that they will not support Khama’s rumored bid for the party chairmanship. This, they say, will divide the party few months before the general elections. “It will be suicidal if we can allow that,” highlighted a source. “Not like we are taking a decision for fellow democrats but we have agreed that we will not support his candidature. In fact all in the current NEC should not be voted out, failure in which re taabo re thuba party” an informant told this publication.
Not only that, the party has also agreed that for the interest of the party, there shall be no elections at next year’s elective congress. “This was just our agreement but the decision is for the members to agree or not. In case of voting those who attended the meeting assured Masisi that he and his team will be voted back to Tsholetsa house.”
The motion not to have elections at next year’s congress was suggested by both Masire and Minister of Youth Empowerment Sports and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng. The trend has always been that those who lose normally go around tainting the image of the party hence de-campaigning its efforts to win state power; and Masisi who wants to captain the party to its victory is weary of that possibility.
“Nyaa rra after the meeting, the party is united and will definitely win power next year, we have agreed in principle on a number of issues which will benefit the party,” party chief whip, Kablay said. “Of course the party congress and other matters surrounding the leadership were discussed and I’ am happy to say that the members and the President were engaging each other in a professional BDP manner which shows, like H.E said, that if we are united we will be strong next year,” he said.
BUT MASISI HAS WARNED COUP PLOTTERS
The grand plan to weaken president Masisi was also discussed at length at the meeting, with Masisi warning those orchestrating the plan to be careful. “He said he has whistleblowers, especially from the government enclave who have alerted him about the coup which is reportedly anchored on some ministers,” said the meeting attendee in an interview. Masisi who was jolly and welcoming everyone to share their views reportedly asked those who are not comfortable with his leadership to talk to him.
“I believe in dialogue, those who are not happy with my style can come and tell me, there is no problem with that. Even if you are a minister and you feel we don’t share the same vision you can let me know, not here (in this meeting), but at private setting and I will definitely remove you from the cabinet. This will be done primarily for the interest of Batswana who need our services,” Masisi allegedly stated.
Masisi emphasized to the party his desire to win the general elections with a convincing margin saying he will do everything possible for the party to retain power, hence he pleaded for loyalty from cabinet which drives his game-plan. “As you know every leader wants to encircle themselves with those who share the same vision and he was just pleading for support from all the party members lest the BDP suffers. He was reiterating what he has been saying in the past, let’s be loyal to our leaders and respect them,” Kablay said when asked about Masisi’s intention to remove sabotaging ministers.
MASISI TOLD TO ASSES EVM
With the floor open to share with the president any grumbles on the table, the legislators asked him to re-look at the issue of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). Just like the opposition bloc, it appears the ruling party is also concerned by the introduction of EVMs. “We asked him to look at it holistically and give us feedback; we can’t impose to Batswana something they don’t want. We are told it can be manipulated and we should cancel its procurement.”
Masisi as usual assured the party leaders that he will definitely look at the matter. As it stands the Independent Electoral Committee (IEC) is clueless as to whether they will use EVM or the traditional manual way of voting. “Gontse yaalo rra, we discussed that one and we want the president to talk to us as Members of Parliament so that we also give him our perspective. We expect to meet with him soon,” Kablay said briefly.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.