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).
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.