The Christian inclined Non Governmental Organisation, Bible Society of Botswana, is caught up in financial misapplications and misappropriations. The Bible Society basically “sells the bibles” and “work on translation” of the holy book to other indigenous languages like Shekgalagadi and Kalanga.
The audit report, a copy of which has been passed to Weekend Post, was conducted in February 2018 and have attracted damning revelations of a “double funding” of the controversial translation projects. It has revealed that the Bible Society continued to receive funding from both Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT) and UDS/ETEN to the same project. This funding, it is understood that, was for the purpose of translation projects for Kalanga, Shekgalagadi, Sheyeyi and Naro.
According to the audit report, there were also misapplication of funding where money was used for projects which were not used for the purposes they were given, amounting to $ 143, 588 which equates to BWP 1,509,893.15 (one million, five hundred and nine thousands, eight hundred and ninety three pula fifteen thebe). “In many occasions, designated grants for translation projects were used for normal Bible Society work without approval from the donours,” the audit points out.
The audit report further reveals that there was a purchase of a Saloon car instead of a distribution vehicle under the wheels for distribution project, which would have helped the Bible Society to reach remote areas of the country that are not reached with scriptures. “Funds provided for moving of office for Kalanga translation team were used to run a translation workshop. Purchase of office equipment including 2 lenovo laptops and a Nashua photocopier were never delivered to the Kalanga translation project even though they were reported as such,” audit continues.
It further states that “three translators’ workshops and another workshop planned to be held in Zimbabwe for Kalanga translation in 2015 never took place, even though they were reported to have taken place.” In terms of Naro translation project, audit indicates that the ETEN funds were requested and transferred but no costs were paid for the project as there was no good relationship with other partners. “Funds used for other translations activities e.g. Shekgalagadi translation workshop, 3 months Kalanga translators’ salaries and the balance used for normal Bible Society operations).
The controversial audit report points out that, with regards to misappropriation, and while some of the misapplied funds were used for normal Bible Society expenses, there was no explanation or supporting documentation to show how the rest of the misapplied funding was spent. “There was also alleged misappropriation of Bible Society assets where for instance proceeds for disposal of a Bible Society vehicle were deposited in a bank account other than that of the Bible Society.” The audit cautions that the matter requires further investigations.
According to the audit there was also a misrepresentation in reporting where financial and other information in project reports does not correspond to the actual position of project implementation. In addition it states poor or lack of team work between the management team and the translation teams in the delivery of projects. Moreover the audit indicates there were lapses in responding promptly to reasonable requests by the Global Mission Team or another Bible Society for information on project management.
However the auditors acknowledge that there are areas they may not have been able to audit exhaustively due to lack of information at the Bible Society or reluctance by the oraganisation staff (current and former) to share information which would have helped in the audit process. The Bible Society prides itself and desires to provide Holy Scriptures to every man, woman and child in a language and form each can readily understand and at a price each can easily afford.
It states that this purpose is undertaken without doctrinal note or comment and without profit and is a cause for all Christians, all churches and all Christian organizations to support. The audit was signed in March 2018 having conducted in earlier in February by Global Ministry resource Facilitator Emmanuel Mbindyo and Global Finance Account Manager Octave Sinzihara.
The audit involved conducting interviews with staff and examining records in the office like projects reports, financial records, agreements terms signed with partners and donours. The purpose was to understand how project funding and reporting had been handled during the period in question. Bible Society of Botswana is an affiliate of an umbrella body of NGO’s in the country, Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO).
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.