The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and the Botswana National Front (BNF) president, Duma Boko has highlighted that the issue of constituencies have long been closed up. He said, it therefore not subject for re-opening for further discussions.
This comes after there are uncertainties as to who will assume the occupation of constituencies allocated to one of the UDC affiliates, Botswana Movement of Democracy (BMD) following the departure of six of its incumbent lawmakers and a myriad of Councilors and ordinary members. The group led by soft spoken Ndaba Gaolathe this week officially announced exit from BMD to form a new political home – with signature purple colours – named Alliance for Progressives (AP). The new party will be launched in October.
This means there will be no chance for AP to negotiate to re-enter the UDC before 2019 General Elections as all constituencies have been dully allocated to existing contracting partners. The battle lines therefore are drawn between three political parties being the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), the UDC and the new entrant AP. When commenting on the new party and clarifying the constituency matter during their debut public event at Civic Centre in Gaborone since Ndaba and companions’ departure, Boko informed the UDC followers at the hall that there is no how the party can re-open the constituency issue, despite the circumstances that the BMD finds itself in.
In fact he said the pronouncement is now old song. The leader whose leadership mantle is currently being tested said this was an accord made between him (Boko) in capacity as UDC leader, and another UDC affiliate Botswana Congress Party (BCP)’s president Dumelang Saleshando during the party’ s meeting at Francistown earlier this year. At the meeting the then BMD President Gaolathe and preceding UDC affiliate Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) he said were also present. “At Francistown meeting the controversial issue of constituencies, it was agreed that it cannot be re-opened as it is very contentious,” Boko, who is also leader of opposition in parliament pointed out.
However he added that what was said can only be entertained are bilateral talks between the affiliate members of the opposition umbrella if there is a will amongst them. He continued to stress that therefore the constituency issue cannot be touched as they have “learned a lesson” and “learned it the hard way.” “You know I have to tell you this; the easiest thing that we had to agree with and agreed during opposition talks was the policies. In terms of the policies, the BPP, BCP, BMD and BNF were all in agreement with no objections. We only had a big problem when it came to the allocation of constituencies for member parties,” Boko highlighted.
In terms of the allocation of constituency as approved, for UDC, it was announced last year that opposition BNF be awarded 22 constituencies. Then followed by its 1998 break away party, the BCP, which bagged in 17 constituencies. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s splinter party, BMD would come third with 14 constituencies while the oldest party BPP got a paltry 4. In terms of the 14 pocketed by BMD, it would seem that subsequent to the departure of Gaolathe’s faction to form AP, the elected President at the Matshekge Junior School, Bobonong which was said to be a constitutional place for the event – Sidney Pilane has the last laugh.
Pilane, although the BMD deadlock is not yet over per se and its end not officially announced, he will preside over the 14 constituencies allocated to BMD of the UDC as a president residual from the BMD impasse. At the moment 5 incumbent BMD MP’s Butale, Gaolathe representing Bonnington South, legislator for Mogoditshane Sedirwa Kgoroba, Mmankgodi Manyana lawmaker Pius Mokgware, Francistown West’s Wynter Mmolotsi as well as Nkaigwa from Gaborone North are expected to join the new party AP.
Only 2 Members of Parliament will remain at the BMD being Gilbert Mangole from Mochudi West and Tlamelo Mmatli standing in for Molepolole South. Both also serve in BMD NEC. It will be a marvel to watch who will be fielded in the constituencies following the exodus. Amongst areas of interest would be Gaborone Central where UDC’s Saleshando may stand against the incumbent MP Phenyo Butale of AP.
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.