The opposition Alliance for Progressives (AP) has insisted that they are not joining the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) for now.
AP is a splinter party of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) which was borne as a result of a heated political power struggle inside the party between the soft spoken Ndaba Gaolathe and contentious Sidney Pilane. Gaolathe has since de-camped from the BMD to form AP while Pilane remained and underwent a subsequent congress that put him at the helm, following a disputed one at Bobonong which saw a loss of life.
The AP says that they have basically cut ties with the BMD and therefore since the party is now under the ambit of UDC (or have been accepted with the current leadership) – then by extension they equally dumped the UDC. Speaking to Weekend Post this week in an interview just outside parliament, AP Vice President, Wynter Mmolotsi although saying consultations are continuing, he confirmed that they will not join UDC with Pilane’s BMD in it. He stressed to this publication that: “with regard to the BMD group led by Pilane, Nehemiah Modubule, Gilbert Mangole, we have totally cut ties with them.”
On the talk about their hatred for Pilane at the UDC, Mmolotsi clarified that “it is not about an individual but about values. There is already a group led by Pilane (BMD) which has been co-opted in the UDC and therefore we are uncomfortable about that development.”
He maintained that: “well, of course we don’t want Pilane but that is not the real issue or only issue. Pilane’s values are not commensurate with ours. His outlook to democracy; his outlook to free and fair elections; and his outlook to human life are not on the same footing with ours. So it’s mostly the values and not more to do with him per se that we detest.”
The AP VP continued to state that one of the core values they believe is the sanctity of life, “we value life” he said adding that so if the current BMD believes that a person may be fought and to an extent of an alleged soul losing life then there is a problem.
“Our outlook to life is different. We also believe in free and fair elections and if you allow Pilane led BMD (with all what they have done at the Bobonong congress) into the UDC then it’s an endorsement and acceptance of what transpired at that bloody congress. It means the UDC shares those values of Pilane. That’s where we differ with UDC,” he highlighted.
Mmolotsi emphasised that they want a leadership that can be trusted. He said for them to take over government they should be trustworthy and honest in their dealings and not to find out that situation when they get in government. He said “assuming we take government with such caliber of people (under UDC), that cant it be that they may do the same at the national polls whereby electorates will find dogs and armed men with guns and maybe not allowed to vote, at the polling stations?” he asked rhetorically.
According to the AP Vice President, one of the basics of democracy which they value is free and fair elections and therefore they don’t want to join UDC just to meet the Pilane led BMD at UDC. “Then that would make us wonder what the reason for partying with them in the first place was,” Mmolotsi said.
AP wants UDC to leave BMD in the cold
As AP, Mmolotsi believes they can be a reconfiguration with political parties under UDC being Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) moving out the Umbrella leaving only the Pilane led BMD alone which he claims has few if not no members at all. He further claims all the BMD structures are now with AP and are busy building more. The Francistown West Member of Parliament (MP) also says the new umbrella of those parties can then be the AP since we are also an alliance.
“If some groups believe they share vision by the Progressives, they can de-camp from the contaminated UDC to join new AP. Everyone can join us not only political parties, whether they are church or anything. Those who believe in our vision and those who believe both BDP and UDC are in disarray. We want those people who are progressive,” the AP MP insisted.
Already there is strong speculation that the oldest opposition Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) and a national labour centre Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) are flirting with the new AP.
When quizzed on the allegations Mmolotsi said: “but we have not yet started courting BOFEPUSU, BPP or either of the like minded organizations and political parties and we have no time frame of this process. But we remain open to any configuration that can we get into in which there will be honesty.”
AP which also declared itself as an ‘alliance’ is expected to go in parallel with ‘Umbrella’ (UDC) in separate directions against the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) at the national polls in just less than two years apart. On opposition cooperation and regime change…
On regime change, Mmolotsi justified that, even if Batswana want change through one opposition cooperation, but they cannot do so willy-nilly and without due diligence. “It’s possible that if Batswana feel that AP can be trusted more than BDP and UDC, they can take a decision that AP, as one political party, just like the BDP has been doing, can still win and also with the assistance of vote from those parties,” he asserted.
So to say that AP can’t win elections alone is not a fair judgement, things change, politics is very dynamic, 2019 elections will be different compared to the previous ones, the AP law maker told this publication. He observed that there are so many things that will influence the outcome like the type of leadership in the competing parties, political consciousness or awareness among Batswana, and as things unfold like the court case of Bakang Seretse’s money laundering matter, those who are involved will be influential in Batswana taking decisions on the basis of that.
“Already there are other Batswana who are very worried that do they continue with the current BDP like this or with the current UDC like that, with the inclusion of the new partner in the form Pilane led BMD, they are saying no they can’t vote for any of the two (UDC and BDP) and we believe we will be on the wings to tap that vote.”
The two time legislator gave an example of France’s President Emmanuel Macron who in almost one year, won the presidency of France after convincing the electorates satisfactorily swaying them to his new party, and “as AP we believe we can surprise many with only less than 2 years left before the next elections.”
According to Mmolotsi, when Batswana are fed up, when they want change, and no matter the circumstances, they will bring that change looking at the configuration of political parties and leaders and that if they don’t want change they will use the narrative of opposition parties contesting as one entity as a scape goat. He said they are ready to field all the 57 constituencies.
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.