Former President Dr Festus Mogae has announced to the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) Council that he will avail P1 million Pula to the University effective immediately as sponsorship for best performing student prize or the Chancellor’s Award.
Mogae’s generous offer comes at a time when the University releases its first batch of graduates this weekend in Palapye. The Mo Ibrahim Award winning president was instrumental in the establishment of the Science and Technology University and indeed its final location on the outskirts of the rising town called Palapye.
The Chancellor’s award, which will initially be known as Dr Festus Mogae Award, will be given to the best performing student from graduating batches of students annually. Although the details were not yet final at the time of going to press, it is apparent that the P1 million will be spread across a particular period of years, with a tentative 50 year period at the current discussion. The best performing student from the first batch of graduates this weekend could walk away with between P20 000 and P50 000 as prize money.
Dr Mogae is said to have made it clear that he wants the award to survive beyond his tenure as Chancellor of BIUST. He is said to have made the remarks when the Council decided to call the award the Dr Festus Mogae Award, there is a possibility that the award will be renamed the Chancellor Award after Mogae leaves the position of BIUST Chancellor.
Mogae’s move gives a sharp focus into the approach adopted by former presidents in some developed nations such as the United States of America and indeed some of Botswana’s neighbours like South Africa. Cecil Rhodes was instrumental in the setting up of the University of Cape Town, he even donated his land towards the development of that University. In the US, various presidents such as Reagan, Thomas Jefferson, Barack Obama, George Washington and others have either donated land or finances to set up world class universities in their respective states or elsewhere.
Weekend Post understands that Mogae wants this money, which will be put into a Fund, to promote the will to learn especially in the science, technology and research fields. When he retired from the Presidency in 2008, Mogae was showered with gifts by hundreds of thousands of adoring Batswana who were happy with his presidency. The quantum of his gifts was immeasurable but observers at BIUST are of the view that Mogae’s latest gesture could also be a sign that he values the spirit of ploughing back to the society.
“His intentions are very good for education as a whole, they should motivate other able individuals and private companies,” said a lecturer at BIUST who preferred to remain anonymous. The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) opened in 2012 as an answer to the narrative critic that Botswana was doing enough to develop science and technology and research as a skill. After a rough start to its operations BIUST has finally found the right speed under its current chairman, Bernard Bolele.
Today’s graduation at BIUST has attracted top personalities including the President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama , Cabinet Ministers, former BIUST Vice Chancellors and Council members as well as members of their academia. The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament has also been invited to the BIUST graduation.
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.