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Did Kebonang approve unlawful NPF transactions

The controversial National Petroleum Fund which is currently at the centre of dispute at the courts in the ongoing biggest financial scandal in the country has not been audited for two years.

The shocking revelation by the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security came to the fore at a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) special meeting this week. The PAC is meeting with the sole purpose of reviewing the Funds, with key interest on the fund order and the financial years under review are 2016/2017 and part of 2018. Acting Permanent Secretary and Accounting Officer in the Ministry Dr. Obolokile Obakeng was summoned to give evidence before the committee.

When he started during examination he apologized for the non submission of the said audited financial statements for the two years. “I would like to tender my apologies for the late submission of financial statements for the same years for inclusion in the Auditors Report,” he highlighted. This is, he said was “due to the findings from the audit that leads to a number of issues that the former Manager could not address adequately; and more importantly, the issue of a figure of 2 027 279 (two million, twenty seven thousand, two hundred and seventy nine) that was not properly accounted for”.

He added: “we would like to tell this committee that we have since recovered the funds.” After he highlighted, PAC committee member Guma Moyo interjected to ask the accounting officer what he meant that the money had been ‘recovered.’ “The 2 million was not stolen; it just meant that they could not account for it adequately. It was not appropriately accounted for. It was missing. So in the end they had to pay that amount of money. The 2 million is interest due to government.”  

Another committee member Dithapelo Keorapetse also asked if an audit query on the 2 million on the previous financial statements is reason enough to stop financial statements for 2 full years, adding that he thought it was a flimsy reason. “Yes, with explanation,” the Acting Permanent Secretary responded, amidst murmurs from the shocked PAC committee members.

Keorapetse then turned to the Auditor General who was present at the meeting for assistance. “They could have at least produced something,” the Auditor general advised in few words. “The non submission is in violation of the law in particular the NPF order and the Public Finance Management Fund,” the Auditor General stressed to the committee.

According to Keorapetse, who in cognizant of the advice from the Auditor general, stated to the Accounting Officer: “the reasons you are giving this committee on your delay are inadequate. When dealing with government ministries, the Auditor General always has some issues she raises, but this does not allow them to withhold financial statements. It is unreasonable and unacceptable. You can’t sit for 2 years without financial statements.”   

The fuming Keorapetse attracted Moyo who chipped in to tell Dr. Obakeng the reason he was giving the committee should have not stopped the preparation of the accounts, adding that the accounts should have reflected that there was 2 million due to government.
On his part the Attorney General in the meeting also made an emphasis that submission of the audited financial statements is a “requirement of the law”.

Dr. Obakeng said as at 7 November 2017, the NPF had only two NPF accounts with Stanbic Bank, which are a call account, and a current account. At a later time he said there was also a corporate account which was opened for grant money that was coming from “somewhere” but it never was credited any funds since it was opened.

The Acting Permanent Secretary further said there was also a call account opened at Stanbic Bank to assist with the purchase of fuel from Mozambique which has since been closed as well. Essentially, all accounts which were held with Stanbic have since been closed, he pointed out to the PAC committee. However the accounting officer stated that he was not in a position to reveal the exact funds in other accounts when they closed adding that he may assist the committed with them at a later stage.

“But all the funds were since moved to First National Bank in 2017. The funds were somewhere in the region of 700 million pula when they were transferred.” In terms of the current account at FNB, he said it is essentially a transactional account and carries a zero balance, and that the call account is an interest earning account, with the balance at 4 million. He also said there is a merchant bank account which is sitting at 1 million pula.

“There is another below the line account opened at Bank of Botswana; funds were transferred there to deal with the issues currently before courts so as to protect the public funds. Currently, as at 26 March 2018, the account balance is 97 million pula,” he said.

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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup

29th May 2023

With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.

Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.

The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.

Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.

“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.

Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.

Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.

For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.

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Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS

26th May 2023

The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.

When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.

Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.

She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.

During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.

Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017

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Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting

23rd May 2023

The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.

According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd,  the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.

However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.

“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.

While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.

“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.

The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.




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