It will be an eventful year for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), apart from the much anticipated central committee elective congress slated for winter this year, the Youth Wing of the ruling party will in two weeks’ time elect a new National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC) in Tsabong.
Expected to be one of the highly contested youth elective congresses in the history of BDP youth politics, seven teams were initially assembled to battle it out for a place in the NYEC, however sources close to the BDP youth circles reveal that the teams have decreased to six. The teams, it is expected, will merge towards what is forecast to be a mouth watering contest, further reducing the number of contestants.
The Youth congress is expected to set the tone for the BDP 2017 calendar of events. Speaking to WeekendPost on Wednesday, Collin Mochoti confirmed to this publication that he has decided with his team to dismantle and seek NYEC positions under Thabo Autlwetse’s leadership, reducing the chairmanship contestants to six. The contestants for the chairmanship are Thabo King Autlwetse, Vuyo Notta, Foxx Segwai, Bruce Nkgakile, Ronald Kgathi and Simon Mavange.
“Yes I have taken the decision alongside a team of young democrats I initially assembled under my wing to merge with Thabo Autlwetse‘s team towards forming a formidable force to represent BDP youth,” he said. Mochoti ‘s compromise to settle for Committee Secretary General position under Autlwetse’s team leaves a 6 Man race at Tsabong to replace Andy Boatile who is said to be eyeing Shaw Kgathi’s Deputy Secretary General position come June/July this year.
A well know youth activist who attracts controversial critics at times told WeekendPost that he believes is the right man for the BDP NYEC Chairmanship. A business man in his own right, Nkgakile who announces on social media more often that his bank accounts seats at millions noted that he is not bending to any compromise that gives him a position less than that of Chairmanship.
“I am contesting for this position for 1 reason, to influence policy,” he said in an interview this publication. “I have exhausted all the levels of empowering young people, from business seminars, capacity building workshops, and so forth I am now taking this challenge to complete the job by running for a position that will enable me to influence national youth policy crafting,” said Nkgakile.
The commercial farmer and Former President Sir QKJ Masire’s Protégée argues that BDP needs revived party structures. “Right now it’s even difficult for us to campaign because there are no structures to engage at the ward and constituency levels, especially youth structures, those are some things that I intend to voice out and fix as the NYEC Chair,” he said.
Nkgakile who is the Mastermind behind Kgang-Tseleng Setswana Debate, Miss Africa amongst other impactful projects vowed to advocate for the return of Youth Parliament and engagement of youth in Job creation amongst other things. The former Silent Shout TV presenter rubs shoulders with national leaders and prides himself with doing business with South African Zulu Kingdom King Buthelezdi. Within BDP activism circles he enjoys backing from BDP diehard fans Selwana Kesebonye and legendary student politician and women empowerment advocate Thato Best Dineo.
Many believe it is his time after he suffered a marginal defeat at Masunga 2015 congress when Andy Boatile retained his chairmanship for a second term. Autlwetse confirmed to WeekendPost this week that he is confident of winning this time after roping in Collen Mochoti’s numbers who he claims is very a influential figure within BDP youth corridors. He noted he is more familiar with BDP culture and traditions than any other candidate.
“What separates me from others is that I rose through the BDP ranks from the grassroots cell structure through to regional and national structures. I understand the party and its traditions and any innovation I would implement would be without compromising the party's identity,” he said. The former NYEC information officer who also served as a secretary in the Gaborone Central region stipulates that BDP needs to have a clear grooming machinery and good leadership retention
“We need to groom and retain leaders and not continue developing leadership for the opposition. That requires a party man who has its ethos rooted in him,” he noted adding that the primary mandate of party structures is to further the party's political interests while also advising government within constitutional limits without playing a parallel government. “The risk of electing people without an understanding of the intricate relationship between party and government would be to create a conflict between the two. All democrats with an interest in NYEC Chairmanship are my competition; it takes a special bond between member and institution for one to volunteer themselves to serve, all who have thus far are worthy,” said Autlwetse.
Mavange is Secretary General of the outgoing National Youth Executive Committee. The Masunga born youngster is the oldest of the contestants, he portrays himself as the most experienced amongst the runners. Speaking to WeekendPost this week Mavange said amongst other things why young democrats must promote him to the committee chairmanship position is that as the General Secretary, he managed with his committee to convince party leadership to increase number of youth specially elected councillors from 23 to 43.
He added that the increase saw a number of BDP youngsters even elevating to Council Chairpersons. Mavange also argued that having successfully served as the deputy chairman of Botswana National Youth Council at some point leading the BDP youth won’t be a difficult job for him.
“I am the most experienced candidate and having served for the past two terms in the National Youth Executive Committee, and having influenced numerous positive changes it is ideal that young democrats elect me as their chairman,” he said. According to Mavange people who are elected into party structures must be put through workshops and oriented to be familiarized with party regulations, ethics and traditions.
“Currently we have a problem, people holding party leadership positions from ward level, constituency, regional and even national executive positions lack the capacity to carry out their mandates,” he said. He intends to put in place regular capacity building undertakings to empower young people and other leaders about party programs as well as government policies, should he win.
Notha is a former University of Botswana student Politician, currently serving as a specially elected councillor at Sowatown and a member of BDP national communications committee. As a very close ally to the corporate sector, he says citizen engagement will be his main focus as NYEC chair.
The philanthropist and social justice advocate who commands much respect amongst Serowe youth; particularly for his Vuyo Cup football and netball tournament says his leadership will be encored on engaging the people he serves. “We want to bring the corporate sector, spiritual and social leaders, and young people from the sports fraternity and entertainment industries to come onboard and revive the BDP vibe catering for all kinds of youngsters,” he said.
He further added that BDP as a national organization needs to appeal to all stakeholders of the economy and social development towards the empowerment of Batswana. “Trade unions, NGO’s and Non -State actors, business people, corporate Parastatals and the youth as the largest age group of our workforce need to take the front seat in crafting national policies and empowerment programs.” “Currently there are no platforms to engage youth and make them have a say in underwriting their own empowerment programs,” he observed.
A BDP foot soldier, Segwai is of the view that leadership is about representation and not positions. “I believe such a position is a position of representation not leadership, I do not become an aspirant because I want to, I become an aspirant because people and the youth are more than willing to work with me,” he remarked.
According to Segwai unemployment is a very critical matter, though he was economical with information about this campaign and candidature Segwai said the possibility of him merging with other teams cannot be thrown out. “I can’t disclose much on it now, I reassure You, I shall invite your publication to our team manifesto official launch soon, that is when I and my team will share much on it, it is not an individual affair, it requires brilliant minds to deal with, and I am certain my team has those minds,” he explained. “It is really not about me, but youth of the BDP in extension of Botswana. It is a necessity for us to protect the legacy of our forefathers, this nation and to do so BDP has to remain in power. I will share much on this one also at the lobby press conference.”
Bobirwa MP Shaw Kgathi’s son, Ronald has a vision for BDP youth and the Botswana youth at large. “My track record in the corporate sector and experience in business will complement my political energy to 1. Fundraise for the committee and promote accountability, integrity and delivery 2.Advocate for youth representation in leadership positions. 3. Revive youth committees across all the 14 regions 4. Fraternal relations and unlock business opportunities for youth 5. Recruitment and political education targeted at Senior & all tertiary institutions of higher learning,” said Kgathi
According to him, talks with other teams to reach a consensus towards forming a formidable National Youth Executive Committee are ongoing.” I cannot rule out the possibility of merging with other teams, we are still in talks and hopefully we will agree.”
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.