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Appeals court to settle Presidential powers debate next week

The Law Society of Botswana (LSB) will on Monday next week attempt to convince the court of Appeal in Gaborone that President Lieutenant General Dr  Seretse Khama Ian Khama was wrong in refusing to appoint a local attorney, Omphemetse Motumise, a High court judge.


In a matter that will lead to clarify the role and rights of the Republic’s President vis-à-vis that of the judicial Service commission (JSC) in regards to the appointment of High court judges, LSB, through its attorneys will further debate the reasons why it believes the Gaborone High court was very wrong when it ruled that the President’s decision in that regard was final.


On 5th, February, 2016, Justice Walia of the High court ruled that President Khama had a constitutional backing to refuse to appoint a judge and that he is not obliged to give reasons for his refusal. Walia stated that even though Motumise was recommended for appointment by the JSC, that did not bind the President to rubberstamp the reccomendation.


Walia concluded that although the JSC recommend names for appointment, the power to appoint a Judge vests in the President. “He shall be the appointing authority but in the exercise of his powers as such, he may not appoint a person not recommended by the JSC,” Walia explained and added that  the JSC plays an advisory role in as far as the appointment of Judges is concerned because  “having made a recommendation, it falls out of the picture altogether. How then can it ever be regarded as the appointing authority?


When the case was brought before court, the argument was whether or not the President’s decision was reviewable. The LSB and Motumise argued that the decision of the President is reviewable while the Attorney General attorneys argued that it is not.
However, Walia maintained that, the President derives his executive powers from section 47 of the Constitution. The said section vests the powers of the country on the state President and empowers the President to take or reject advice from anyone.


Walia was responding to the LSB’s contention that in refusing to appoint someone who was recommended above others by the JSC, the President acted irrationally and unlawfully as he did not even give reasons. However Walia maintained that the President was smart in not giving reasons because they (reasons) may damage the reputation of the rejected candidate.


“In so far as the decision may have been based on adverse information to the person of the applicant, it was, in my view, benevolent of the President to not make a disclosure in public, lest the applicant suffer damage to his reputation. In my view the President has committed no reviewable wrong in making the decision. The argument on irrational is therefore without merit,” Walia pointed out.


However LSB was not happy with the judge’s decision and when it challenges his ruling on Monday, the contention would be that, in as much as Walia said the President was not obliged to disclose the information, he did not have facts before him to prove whether indeed or not the President’s decision was a justified one.


“There were no facts before the court to establish whether the decision was in fact motivated by concerns of either national security and policy or information in relation to the second appellant (Motumise,” LSB’s grounds of appeal reads in part. LSB is advocating that shortlisted High court judge applicants should be interviewed in public so as to promote transparency.

Since Walia dismissed that point by citing privacy rules, LSB is expected to give it a try before the Appeals court because it believes, the High court erred, “in failing to recognise the general rule in relation to the protection of the privacy of the applicants who apply for high public office, that they must accept that the public has a legitimate interest in their application unless there are reasons that justify secrecy which in this case no such reasons were given.”


LSB further wants the outcome of the of the JSC’s deliberations to be made public.
The court of Appeal, the highest in the land, is expected to settle the matter early February.

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Government sitting on 4 400 vacant posts

14th September 2020
(DPSM) Director Goitseone Naledi Mosalakatane

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.

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FNBB projects deeper 50 basis point cut for Q4 2020

14th September 2020
Steven Bogatsu

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.

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Food suppliers give Gov’t headache – report

14th September 2020
Food suppliers give Gov’t headache

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.

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