Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President Sidney Pilane will not entertain the idea of ceding some of his party’s constituencies to its partners following the split of the party in the wake of the Alliance for Progressives’ (AP) formation.
The political events of last week saw the formation of AP, led by former BMD president Ndaba Gaolathe. The new party is said to have dealt a heavy blow to BMD strength therefore raising questions on whether BMD could deliver the 14 constituencies it was initially given. “We will not be ceding any constituencies; there is no reason to do so. The BMD is not a carcass to be scavenged,” said Pilane. Pilane believes that the formation of AP is a blessing in disguise for the BMD.
“A stable BMD is actually stronger than a one beset with disagreements. That is why the BMD is stronger now than it was when it went to Bobonong; we are consolidating it, watch us,” Pilane told WeekendPost. During the 2014 general elections, BMD proved to be an integral member of the UDC alliance, winning nine of the 17 seats won by the coalition. BNF won the other 8 constituencies. Of the historic 17 seats, four had never been won by opposition; these are; Maun West (Tawana Moremi II, Goodhope-Mabule (Jams Mathokgwane), Ghanzi North (Noah Salakae) as well as Francistown South (Wynter Mmolotsi).
BMD is expected to only remain with two Members of Parliament; Gilbert Mangole (Mochudi West) and Dr Tlamelo Mmatli (Molepolole South) in the wake of AP formation. The BMD is also reportedly going to lose 30 councillors to the new party in the anticipated mass movement. Talks of other coalition partners developing interest in the BMD constituencies are rife, with Botswana Congress Party (BCP) reportedly interested in Gaborone Central and Mogoditshane constituencies. Gaborone Central had been under BCP since 2004 until 2014 when BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando lost the constituency to BMD’s Dr Phenyo Butale who was contesting under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) ticket.
There are beliefs that with the departure of Butale to the new party, Saleshando is a better candidate to win the constituency for the UDC in 2019. Meanwhile in Mogoditshane, BCP lost the constituency with a small margin to UDC. The constituency was won by Sedirwa Kgoroba with 4180 votes while Tumiso Rakgare of BCP garnered 3846 votes and Patrick Masimolole of ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) came third with 3787 votes. Pilane is however not ready to re-negotiate or cede any constituency to other UDC partners because he believes the matter is a close case.
“We are going to work all these constituencies and win them. We are not giving up any of them. There is no reason to do so,” he said. “The BMD is a sleeping giant. It will awaken, and all those who underestimate it because we do not make noise will see. As I said, watch us, re bereka re didimetse.” Pilane said BMD should not be underestimated and warned those who want to kick them out that they will regret it. “Le seka la re tlhaetsa matlho. Anyone who does so does so at his peril. It is not by accident that we get what we want. We do because we work for it. Some think we are down and take licence to kick us. They will regret it,” he warned.
“They can only strengthen our resolve and determination to come out on top; and we will come out on top. Watch us.” The formation of AP has also brought to an end disputes over legitimacy of the BMD leadership. The BMD has since written to the UDC requesting that its leadership be included in the NEC. Since the Bobonong Congress, BMD has not been part of the UDC NEC, following the leadership dispute that arose from the two parallel congresses held in Bobonong. Pilane will also be propelled to the Vice Presidency of the UDC should he get the recognition he has requested.
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.