The suspension of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President Ndaba Gaolathe and his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi will come as a stern test for Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader who is being asked to drop the duo from the leadership of Umbrella party.
Gaolathe is currently the Vice President of UDC jointly with Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader Dumelang Saleshando. Gaolathe is founding UDC Head of Policy and Research and also served as party Secretary General following the passing of Gomolemo Motswaledi.
Meanwhile Francistown South legislator, Mmolotsi is the Head of Mobilisation for the UDC. The suspension letters authored by Deputy Secretary General, Tseleng Botlhole, sent to the duo this week state that the duo and others who are suspended are not allowed to ‘participate in the BMD activities, formal or informal, official or unofficial for 90 days.” The two founding members of the party hold their positions at the UDC by virtue of their positions at the BMD, an affiliate of the UDC.
What aggravate the situation more, observers say, is the fact that the duo have since denounced their suspensions, stating that the suspension is invalid since the party NEC does not have the power to suspend or expel any member of the NEC. Gaolathe has remained defiant as he revealed to this publication that he and Mmolotsi will continue to carry out their official duties. He was not perturbed by suspension as he noted that he is fighting a good cause.
Meanwhile the suspension of the party’s top two will test Boko’s mantle as he is being asked to drop the two in a clearly factional battle brewing in the seven year old Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) splinter party. The UDC has chosen not to interfere in the internal matters of the BMD. Other suspended members include legislators, Phenyo Butale and Haskins Nkaigwa; as well as former Youth League President, Phenyo Segokgo; and Joyce Mothudi, Women’s Wing president.
The development will likely put Boko between a rock and a hard place, because failure to drop Gaolathe and Mmolotsi could upset the faction led by party Chairman, Nehemiah Modubule and Secretary General, Gilbert Mangole. While on the other hand dropping Gaolathe from his position could be seen as betrayal and may likely cause discomfort among UDC faithful.
UDC constitution, like that of BMD does not give extensive powers to its president, something which could come back to haunt the umbrella party. It was however anticipated that the effects of BMD instability could spill into the UDC as the war between the two factions rages on.
However the UDC constitution is amiable to derecognising members of UDC NEC who are suspended by their affiliate party. Exercising that option will amount to alienating Gaolathe and faction from UDC. But on paper, the matter is straight as a ruler, UDC recognises the affiliate parties and leadership positions are allocated according to the position one holds from the affiliate party – therefore the UDC has no choice but to follow the spirit of the BMD secretariat letter.
Another contention which may play out ahead of the BMD July congress is a court battle to challenge the validity of the suspension of Gaolathe and his followers. There has been a debate raging on on whether their suspension was constitutional or not with legal brains having differing opinions on the matter. When contacted for comment UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa said he is not in a position to comment on the matter because the party leadership is still studying the contents of the letter.
Last week, on the eve of Tlokweng bye-election a day after the decision to suspend the duo was taken by a Modubule/Mangole faction controlled NEC to suspend the Gaolathe and Mmolotsi —Boko assured supporters that he will stroll to victory in 2019 with Gaolathe and Saleshando.
“Ke a go winner ditlhopho tsa 2019 ke nale ditautona tsame tsotlhe tsa diparty tsa magata mmogo tsa UDC . Ke raya bone baa b sekotameng jaana eseng ope gape, le seka la tshoswa ke sepe, a mang wa rata, a mang ga a rate.” Loosely translated, “I am going to win power in 2019 with my vice presidents. I am referring to the incumbent office bearers not anyone else. Do not be shaken by anything.” In trying to hold on on to their positions, Gaolathe and his camp will tomorrow return to Letlhabile in Gaborone, a place where BMD was officially launched as a political party.
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.