Charming Vice President of opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) who doubles as leader of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Dumelang Saleshando has explained that the disputed ex-President of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Advocate Sidney Pilane’ s political fate lies not with the UDC but rather the BMD.
He stressed that the BMD delegates at the next congress scheduled for December (next weekend) has the leeway to get rid of Pilane. While it is now clear that Saleshando is now the UDC VP, by virtue of his position as a BCP leader, the same cannot be said about BMD. The party has been engulfed with power struggles since the Gantsi Congress in 2015 leading to one group led by Ndaba Gaolathe bolting out to form Alliance for Progressives (AP).
Sidney Pilane, who led another group, has also thereafter relinquished his position in bid to contest in the coming congress as sanctioned by the mother body of UDC. This follows the disputed July congress which was swamped by stone hurling, dogs and knife stabbing of fellow BMD members resulting in the loss of a life.
When speaking to Weekend Post this week the UDC VP Saleshando admitted that there are some calls for Pilane’s rejection in UDC precisely because his detractors believe his “credibility” will dent the UDC rendering it “unsellable” to the electorates. It is said that Pilane became an adversary to some in the opposition circles the moment he provided legal services for the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General Isaac Kgosi.
Pilane has nevertheless defended himself saying that he provides legal representation to anyone in need whether from the DISS, or any organisation even from any political formation. The UDC leader Duma Boko nonetheless never spares the spy organization when he takes to the microphone and has previously even went on stating that they will “disband” DISS once they assume state power as it’s a “useless body.” According to Saleshando, the debatable Pilane is beyond their reach as UDC leadership and in addition they therefore cannot interfere or dictate to BMD to discard him if they so wish.
“If the perception that Pilane is not politically credible holds water, then it’s in the interest of the BMD members who will vote at the next congress to reject him accordingly,” Saleshando told Weekend Post. “It is for BMD stalwarts to vote him out of the presidency if they don’t want him at the UDC leadership,” the BCP leader said. He stressed that if the party fails to remove him at the individual party level, they will then continue with him as another UDC Vice President regardless of whether some believe he is not appealing to the electorates or not.
Warns AP that time is running out
The BCP President also warned the newly formed Alliance for Progressives (AP) that time is racing against them to join one opposition block which remains the only viable option to defeat the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). “We call on AP that the ball is in their court as they are the only ones left outside UDC in the opposition,” he highlighted. He pointed out that if they decide to join UDC, there will be more discussions around the issue of constituencies and it can be resolved amicably to suit both parties’ needs.
“The issue of constituency allocation is a subject to negotiations, not only to BMD but others in the UDC as well. BMD must be realistic and should be able to relinquish those that are not practically winnable for those remaining at the BMD and allocate them to AP. We remain open and ready to undertake such exercise.” He added “we should do this with the recognition that AP was never part of the UDC talks, but if they decide to join us opportunities will be crafted.”
He continued to state that the AP should make sure they decide before the Primary elections commence or otherwise the bus will leave without them. Saleshando added that it has always been AP position that whoever does not join the UDC should be rejected at the polls and they have always articulated it very well and hope they will leave by their word. If AP continues and decides to go it alone, Saleshando said it will lead to opposition vote splits in which the main beneficiary, as has always been, will be the ruling BDP. Meanwhile, it is still unclear whether AP, if re-joins the UDC which chances are it will be comprising of Pilane of the BMD, whom they left the party as a reason, will be able to work with him again at the umbrella party.
On the recent UDC countrywide public rallies
Saleshando said that the recent countrywide public rallies were intended to give people re-assurances that “all is well” in the UDC despite the mass group departure that formed the AP though most of which were from the BMD. “As leaders we achieved more than we expected. The response is awesome and overwhelming. We could see and sense that people across the country are more than ready to vote in the coming 2019 General Elections,” the UDC VP insisted.
However Saleshando still has not yet found a constituency
Meanwhile, the former two time Gaborone Central legislator conceded that he is still hunting for a constituency to contest on during the 2019 General Elections. He said next year finding the constituency will be a priority. “Yes I have not yet found a constituency and I think this issue will be a priority next year. Some constituencies have already approached me. But most people only talk through informal engagements on the matter.”
He also took time to clarify that he has never expressed interest in contesting Maun East constituency which is in the hands of another BCP stalwart in Keretetse Kekgonegile as he performed exceptionally well in the last elections. Instead he said some party members made the calls for him to contest in the constituency and others also opposed and both are within their rights. In terms of Gaborone South, he also clarified that he was never approached to contest in the area. With regard to the BPP, he said they have less numbers in the UDC but makes a lot of noise.
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.