Ngami constituency seems to be braced for another dose of a bitter primary elections war between Botswana Democratic Party’s Jacob Nkate and cabinet Minister Thato Kwerepe as per the latest indications in the constituency.
Ironically, the young Jacob Nkate ushered in to the political scene in 1994 when he defeated Thato Kwerepe’s father, the late Gaerolwe Kwerepe. Nkate eventually later made a name for himself within the BDP. However, senior Kwerepe’s progeny, former school headmaster, Thato Kwerepe now a junior a minister of Basic Education, left the civil service to challenge Nkate.
The duo’s primary elections run for 2009 elections, won by Nkate amid complaints of unfair playing field, became a source of bitter rivalry. When news was announced at Ngami Community Junior Secondary in 2009 that Nkate had lost Ngami to Taolo Habano of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), the loss was blamed on feud and de-campaigns between the two power houses. Nkate eventually left to be Botswana Ambassador in Japan while Kwerepe seen by many as former President Ian Khama’s yes man was later voted in to the BDP Central Committee, solidified his power in Nkate’s absence and went on to beat Habano for the Ngami constituency in the 2014 elections.
Fast forward to the approaching 2019 election, Nkate left Botswana ambassadorship position in Japan to re-launch his political career by contesting Ngami against incumbent Thato Kwerepe. Nkate however, fellout with President Mokgweetsi Masisi last year before the Tonota congress after he expressed ambitions to challenge Masisi for the presidency. However sources have pointed out that Nkate has been working hard to mend bridges with Masisi post Tonota and subsequent Masisi ascendance to presidency.
” Yes I can only confirm I will take part in primaries but I cannot discuss anything beyond that” Nkate said in an interview. Kwerepe who is the most visible in the Ngami constituency was not available for comment. The two BDP Ngami heavyweights who have all previously served as BDP Secretary Generals are braced for another bitter showdown in the upcoming BDP primaries.
Kwerepe presided on the return of Allen Sokwe back to the BDP from UDC to BDP. Sokwe who is Nkate ‘homeboy’ from Tsau village was viewed as Kwerepe main ally during the divisive 2009 BDP primary elections that Kwerepe controversially lost to Nkate. His return is viewed as the renewal of hostilities. However Kwerepe recently lost a valuable ally in Deputy North West District Council Deputy Chairman, Lathang Molonda who recently raised suspicions by announcing that he will not be contesting the party primaries in Nokaneng /Habu ward.
Molonda was a long time ally of Nkate but drifted to Kwerepe during Nkate’s absence. Moreover, the Ngami Branch Committee is said to be divided along camps affiliated to Nkate and Kwerepe. This came to the fore in a recent BDP Disciplinary Committee case involving Kabo Kurusa who is the Branch Secretary and Daniel Molokwe who is the Political Education and Elections Committee (PEEC,) deployed for Ngami constituency. The judgment observed that Ngami has been polarized by campaigns between Nkate and Kwerepe.
Councilor Daniel Molokwe had brought a case against Karusa in terms of article 15.1 to 15.5 of the Botswana Democratic Party Disciplinary Rules and Regulations. In the charge, Molokwe stated that before undertaking membership audit exercise in Ngami constituency he was given a letter of suspension for Karusa from party activities by the Ngami branch disciplinary committee.
Kurusa, branch secretary who is said to be affiliated to Nkate, allegedly disrupted meetings meant to facilitate registration process. He was accused by Molokwe refusing to hand over registration books to the acting Secretary Shadrack Sianga something which made registration exercise impossible. Kurusa was also accused of supporting Nkate in Ngami constituency. Kurusa allegedly declared that he was only registering members supporting Jacob Nkate and not Thato Kwerepe. He also allegedly distributed registration books to cells that support Nkate. Kurusa also allegedly declared to some of the BDP members that Kwerepe does not have the numbers to win against Nkate.
Advisor Pulamore, Ngami Branch Chairperson who is affiliated to Kwerepe was called in as a witness before the BDP DC in Sehitwa on May 19 in Sehitwa. The DC judgment however observed that Pulamore testimony mostly contained hearsays and hinged on the position that Kurusa was suspended from the committee and therefore not eligible to take part in party affairs. Kurusa denied allegations and produced a letter that he was reinstated by the Branch Committee a position corroborated by his witness, Shadrack Sianga.
Sianga further posited before the BDP disciplinary committee that Karusa did hand the books to him and accused the complainant (Moloko) of not working with the Branch Committee well. The DC threw out the case against Kurusa while observing that the case is part of ongoing feud in Ngami before the parliamentary elections.
North West Region chairman, Eagilwe Modisaemang confirmed that ongoing fed in Ngami constituency and Kurusa’s case escalated to the DC by Molokwe. He explained that the region has previously intervened and instructed activists from campaigns that could polarize the party in the constituency. However he denied claims that they plan to dissolve Ngami Branch Committee which is seen to be polarized by the feuds.
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.