Six Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councillors in Selebi Phikwe face possible suspension for not attending the party caucus to nominate preferred candidates for the position of mayor and Deputy Mayor for the Selebi Phikwe Town Council (SPTC).
The six councillors that includes Dorcus Letlhogela who was elected Deputy Mayor unopposed are alleged to be loyal Molefhi supporters for the BDP chairmanship race which pits the Selebi Phikwe East legislator and the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi. The BDP party caucus was called on Sunday 28 May 2017, a day before the Special Full Council where the new SPTC leadership was elected. Only four out of the ten DBP councillors attended. In attendance was the convener of the meeting, Former Mayor and nominated Councillor Leonard Mojuta, Gaopalalwe Letsobe of Botshabelo North, Mogae Ketshogile of Kopano Ward and Lillian Sethula of Ikageleng Phase II.
On the day of election, Councillor Letsobe, seconded by Mojuta moved for an adjournment and called all BDP councillors for a brief meeting in an effort to give the councillors an opportunity for a caucus to fulfil the party procedure. However, Letsobe’s last minute try was thwarted as Dorcus Letlhogela objected the adjournment request seconded by Councillor Odirile Kelebetse of Hospital Ward.
The matter was put to vote and was defeated as six councillors voted against while four wanted the adjournment. This was the final confirmation that the BDP councillors have contravened procedure by objecting the party caucus. BDP Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane says he has not received any official report on the matter. “As I speak to you, I have not received any report on the matter you are referring to, so I am constrained to comment unless I have something official on my desk,” he said.
Objecting or defying a party caucus warrants punitive measures including possible suspension. Recently, BDP suspended two party members who defied the party caucus during the chairmanship elections of North West District Council (NWDC). Like in Selebi Phikwe the duo, Duncan Enga and Vepaune Moreti are reported to be aligned to Molefhi faction.
If the BDP Disciplinary Committee decides to take action against the six councillors and slap them with the possible 90 days suspension, Molefhi’s faction will be the biggest loser as councillors are one of the delegates that will be voting at the BDP congress in July. The suspension would render them ineligible to vote or stand for election for any Central Committee position.
It looks like the decision to frustrate the holding of the caucus was well planned. In the run to the elections, the alleged Molefhi faction courted the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) to help them unseat Mojuta. Leader of Opposition in the council, Molefhe Molatlhegi revealed to WeekendPost in a previous interview that a faction of the BDP has approached them asking for support, the aim being to deny Mojuta a second term as the mayor of Selebi Phikwe. Mojuta allegedly support Vice Mokgweetsi Masisi for the BDP Chairmanship.
Disturbed by the turn of events at the NWDC where councillors defied the party caucus, the BDP issued a memorandum to all regions calling for respect of caucus decisions, outlining that the decisions must be implemented as agreed. It remains to be seen whether the BDP will crack the whip.
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.