Almost mocking its principal objective and perhaps its foundation, irregularities at the newly established Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA) have started cropping up. Already, the competence of the body along with its staff complement is in question, WeekendPost, has learnt.
BAOA was established through the Financial Reporting Act of 2010 with the principal objective of providing oversight to accounting and auditing services and to promote Standard, Quality and Credibility of providing financial and non-financial information by entities, including public interest bodies. Being the highest institution of Accountants in Botswana, it oversees notable bodies like Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) and accountancy bodies with local branches in Botswana such as Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
Although bearing such huge tasks including improving investor confidence in Botswana, it is understood that the authority is marred with questionable governance issues, financial mismanagement as well as basic accounting procedures. Immaculate sources at BAOA revealed to WeekendPost this week that while it oversees and audits notable companies and firms and are busy registering them, the organisation has only six Chattered Accountants to carry the function across the country.
“With this small number how then can they perform the task of auditing for such big Commercial Banks, Telecommunications networks, Insurance companies under Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), Debswana, BCL, Botswana Stock Exchange and Choppies among others,” one source who cannot be named for their protection said. Other companies audited by BAOA include Pension Funds, Medical Aid Societies, and Fund Managers. “How do you do corporate governance for all those many companies when you are failing to put in place proper procedures in your organisation,” the source wondered further.
They pointed out that the organisation has a staff complement of 28 members who are mostly executives while others are temporary Accountants, while there are no junior staffers. Managers at the organisation are the only junior staff, the sources claimed. BAOA Chief Executive Officer, Duncan Majinda also confirmed to WeekendPost that there are 9 professional accountants at BAOA although he did not state explicitly that others are temporary. Out of the 9, he said 6 had been trained with the assistance of the World Bank.
He added “only two staff in the review Department are temporary and they are studying for professional qualifications while the rest have long term employment contracts.” Majinda however does not believe that the low staff numbers limits the performance of the organisation in any way. He said that the body is limited mainly by lack of resources and the availability of the required skills and expertise in the industry.
“We believe that under the circumstances, we have coped very well with the challenge. The review cycle approach which spread the entities to be reviewed over the cycle period helps the situation too and as we prepare to adopt a risk based approach, we hope to address the effect of the shortage of staff in an efficient and effective manner. Sometimes, it is not only the numbers of staff that matter but smart working and planning that results in exponential gains,” the BAOA CEO stated. According to Majinda, the Authority has already reviewed 24 audit firms comprising 36 practitioners and very useful recommendations have been made despite that the failure rate is still very high at about 30%.
“Some audit practitioners have lost their practising certificates as a result and this underlines the seriousness of BAOA to raise standards of auditing in Botswana. We have a very capable team which we should be proud of as a country,” he said. Surprisingly, despite the shortage of staff, he said they have even recently extended their mandate beyond audit quality reviews to include financial reporting monitoring and ensuring good practices in corporate governance of Public Interest Entities (PIEs). Botswana is one of the first four countries in Africa to establish an independent accountancy oversight authority, the other three being South Africa, Mauritius and Egypt.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.