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Olopeng to OP: The show must go on

On Wednesday night a circular savingram no 3 of 2017 Ref: OPS 4/26/5 II (101) dated 5th September 2017 titled: Holding Of Music Festivals At Stadia And Associated Public Places, authored by the Permanent Secretary to the President made rounds and went viral on social media.

The Savingram basically bans all Music Festivals at the stadia and other public places in the country. It calls on all local authorities to desist from issuing any permits for such activities in public places. “The recent incident where one young person lost her life and many other attendants lost their property during the music festival at the National Stadium on Saturday 02nd September is regrettable,” reads the directive in part. The directive continues to say the decision affects both planned and future events. “The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and that of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development are directed to ensure that these measures are implemented without fail.”

In response to the Savingram through the facebook platform, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng wrote, "It is my responsibility to promote, grow and protect entertainment industry in this country. We will not allow certain individuals to destroy this industry by not complying to set rules. Those who take advantage of alcohol influence to destroy property etc, will be dealt with. I'm on this issue. Give me time." Minister Olopeng also promised to hold a press conference on Monday to address the issue. Ever since he took office Olopeng has been hailed by the entertainment industry practitioners for his contribution to the arts, a seemingly deserted industry but with a lot of potential.

On many occasions the Minister has engaged with artists, fashion designers and beauty queens on issues that he deems important in taking their industry forward. This move has since seen the Miss Botswana Beauty pageant being transferred to his Ministry for better coordination and staging. In one of his engagements with industry experts, Olopeng called on artists to form the Arts Council where all their grievances can be heard and addressed accordingly. This initiative is still on the pipeline and was welcomed by artists.

Directly addressing the Savingram issue, Olopeng further said, “I'm aware of the correspondence from the Office of the President with regard to what happened at the National Stadium during the recent music festival. We all condemn what happened there”. The Savingram decision comes after an unfortunate incident that happened at the National Stadium over the past weekend. A young woman, Nametso Bogopa, who was a third year student at the University of Botswana died following a stampede at one of the gates leading into the stadium as patrons were negotiating their way into venue for the fourth installment of the Gaborone International Music and Culture Week (GIMC) on Saturday night.

An incident as narrated by the event organizer Fish Pabalinga happened after tickets were sold out, about eleven thousand tickets that were printed finished and people still forced their way through. In the process they broke down one of the gates, a group of atleast seven thousand people force their way in causing a stampede that led to the death of the young Bogopa.

Fish Pabalinga distanced himself from the said directive questioning its authenticity. He however said he followed the post he saw on facebook and Minister Olopeng’s response but cannot comment. “We are still waiting to be furnished with the document if it does exist, however if that is true it will be a sad reality”, he said in short. The directive was highly criticised on social media, many commentators said it lacked consultation and the decision was based on emotions.

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Government sitting on 4 400 vacant posts

14th September 2020
(DPSM) Director Goitseone Naledi Mosalakatane

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.

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FNBB projects deeper 50 basis point cut for Q4 2020

14th September 2020
Steven Bogatsu

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.

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Food suppliers give Gov’t headache – report

14th September 2020
Food suppliers give Gov’t headache

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.

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