As the war of words rages on between the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) sympathizers and the supporters of the newly former Alliance for Progressives (AP), the plot is now thickening. UDC insiders are concerned that the bigger plan of the Alliance for Progressives is to malign UDC leader, Duma Boko and present him as a man unfit to lead and later exhibit their posterboy Ndaba Gaolathe as the liberator.
UDC insders are said to be taking keen interest on who is linked to the Alliance for Progressives and who has joined. While the Alliance for Progressives are said to be afraid that taking on the UDC could be akin to moving a mountain, they are convinced that they could explore legal loopholes that could unsettle and rattle the UDC, especially using the disgruntled Botswana People’s Party (BPP).
The BPP has made it clear that it will not be part of a UDC that has the Botswana Congress Party (BPP). The BPP has been very cozy with Ndaba Gaolathe’s faction from the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) days. According to some sources close to UDC insiders, there are fears that there is a plot aimed at distablising the UDC and AP assuming the status of the “serious alternative” forcing some unhappy sections of the UDC contracting parties except the BMD to force their leaders to consider the Alliance for Progressives as a viable route out of the chaotic UDC.
Already the Alliance for Progressives has captured the unofficial Council of Elders of the UDC and recently the Botswana National Front (BNF) Youth League President made headlines after he joined the Alliance for Progressives trashing UDC leader, Duma Boko’s leadership credentials in the process. UDC inner circle is concerned that those sympathetic to Ndaba Gaolathe within the BNF will be used to cause discontent to push the objectives of the new party.
They believe the grand plan which is supported by some in the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) and some business people who have been supporting the UDC project is to propel Ndaba Gaolathe to the leadership of a “new arrangement of a coalition”.A group of lawyers were seen in Lobatse this past week, these lawyers appear to share the commonality of their outspokenness in political matters. Some in the UDC inner circle were concerned that the meeting of these lawyers who are speculated to be sympathetic to Ndaba Gaolathe further sparked fears that they could be “exploring” gaps that they could employ to unsettle the UDC.
Tshiamo Rantao, a BNF activist in his days is one of the lawyers who were spotted in Lobatse. Although he has an explanation for why he was there, he made it clear that he is sympathetic to Ndaba Gaolathe. Asked for a comment Rantao said he never undertaken an official meeting with any representative of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and newly formed Alliance for Progressives (AP) thus far.
He clarified that while at Lobatse this week, he was only attending a series of court cases involving, and which he acted on behalf of, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Botswana and Sunday Standard newspaper. While at Lobatse, he said, he together with other esteemed attorney Dick Bayford and another Counsel only known as Phuthego had lunch at Cumberland Hotel where they discussed the political landscape of the country at length but casually and just on a personal level.
Rantao said they equally expressed concern like other Batswana who are worried particularly in relation to the infightings within the opposition ranks. He highlighted that while personally he sympathizes with Ndaba’s AP, he is not politically active and he has not even met, at least so far, with any AP or worse still UDC representatives following the break-away of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD)’s Ndaba faction to form AP.
Meanwhile the Alliance for Progressives will be officially launched on 28th October this year and it is at this event that a list of its supporters and well-wishers will be revealed. At the weekend in Francistown AP Vice President Wynter Mmolotsi made telling statements when he shared that the best that other UDC parties can do would be to emulate the AP by quitting the UDC then form their own coalition without the Sidney Pilane led BMD if they want progress.
“Pilane took his time strategically planning to destroy opposition parties. His initial target was to destroy the BMD and he has achieved his mandate. Now he is going for the UDC. He has already started the process of destroying the UDC,” explained the Francistown South lawmaker. Alliance for Progressives (AP) is expected to launch in Gaborone at Baisago University on October 28 this year. The party will officially launch its logo and party colors on October 14. Purple will be the primary colour of the AP while navy blue and white will be the secondary colours. Mmolotsi further advised that the UDC leadership might end up having to form a new coalition without Pilane and BMD.
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.