Residents of Tlokweng this week Thursday protested an illegal water siphoning connection attached to the Notwane river system by Iranian born real estate magnate, Seyyed Jamali.
Tlokweng residents told Minister for Land Management, Water and Sanitation Management, Prince Maele that while they have been encircled by Gaborone township and big farms, they no longer have places where they water their livestock because Jamali’s equipment diverts water to his premises in ways major.
Residents however remained in the dark about what goes on at the Iranian’s large property. Some speculated that his connection diverts water to his premises which he then sells to tankers and water bowsers. Some labelled it ‘Jamali’s stadium’ or field whose lights often lights up the place at night.
Maele responded by stating that he is aware of the issue and that Jamali has already been summoned by the Water Affairs Department over his illegal connection and was told to disconnect his paraphernalia from the river system. “Concerning the Jamali issue, it has already arrived at my office. It’s unlawful for him to draw water from the river. Like I told you earlier, it is unlawful and you have to go through proper channels. but we will solve it. You don’t just take those things. It should reflect that you have tried to talk to someone and that is when you can go and confiscate those things,” Maele responded.
“An unnamed villager stated that Jamali has a big farm form where he draws water from a government dam. The person further stated that as far as they know he acquired the land legally “but there is something that he did on his own without government agreement. He has dug a dam and there is an engine. Those who saw it say the water is drawn electrically. ”he stated.
Another resident, Mmapula Letlapeng who is a former councilor in Tlokweng stated that she could not figure out the purpose of Jamali’s establishment wondering in a sarcastic tone whether it was a stadium. Maele had stated earlier that drawing water from the river without authorization from the department of Water and Sanitation is an illegal activity and a disregard of the Water Act. He stated that those who do that disturb the rivers water flow. He noted that those who wish to siphon water from the river system should engage the authorities who will inspect the area and decide whether to give the greenlight or not.
Maele acknowledged that Batlokwa have many issues chief among them being about land. He stated that to resolve them he has reached an agreement with the Tlokweng traditional leadership to convene a meeting on the 30th of March where both sides will come armed with all the necessary documentation to resolve an issue where Batlokwa and government are locked in a case where each side claims ownership to three large tracts of land. He stated that afterwards that is when they will call Batlokwa to announce what they have agreed on.
He stated that his delegation will include his Permeant Secretary, land surveyors and other top officials. He also gave Kgosi Gaborone to invite those necessary on their side. “There are three ranches where we don’t agree on the ownership. The land board says it’s theirs and the Dikgosi says it’s theirs too.” “There should be an end to this fight. Somebody should win ranches and to do that we should all come with documents.” To requests of ascertaining where the village boundary lie, Maele also stated that government surveyors will be called to determine that.
He further said that from the 23rd to the 27th of March 2017 he will authorise the Tlokweng Land board to allocate 600 residential plots to those on the waiting list if Kgosi Puso Gaborone gives him the greenlight. He noted that, as per a cabinet determination on peri-urban areas such as Tati-Siding, out of the 600 plots, Batlokwa will be allocated 60% plots while Batswana from elsewhere will be allocated 40% under whose Batlokwa will still be eligible. He also revealed that Tlokweng has 54 331 names on the waiting list awaiting land allocation but stated that out of the 600 available plots, those who have been allocated residential plots before will be struck out.
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.