Audit report exposes rot at Christian inclined NGO
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).
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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.
Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”
Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.
On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.
He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”
President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.
“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”
When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.
“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”
He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.
“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:
He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”
Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.
“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”
In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.
It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.
Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.
President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”
In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”
He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.
“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”
Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”
Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV
Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.
“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”
Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.
“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”
He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.
In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.
Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.
Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”
“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”
Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.
“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”