BCP President, Demelang Saleshando and BDP Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s activists are using some government funded agencies’ services to lure opposition cadres into their fold, WeekendPost can reveal.
While these agencies were established to address the need for logical and all-inclusive support for the development of citizens’ small, medium and large scale enterprises through loans it seems they are being manipulated by some sections of the ruling party.
Agencies like CEDA, which are known to be autonomous offer loan funding for capital expenditure, stock or working capital in new and existing business ventures, and most revealing is that it is controlled by a Board of Directors appointed by the Botswana Government.
WeekendPost has in its possession an audio clip illustrating the ruling party’s recruitment drive. In the recorded clip, BDP activists insist to an unsuspecting opposition member to come up with a business idea so that they will be “easily” funded by organisations in the clutches of government.
“Comrade, what I emphasise to you is that; you come up with any business proposal, and you present it as an application. You will see.”
In the clandestine clip, the BDP activists, former Councillor for Monarch East Raoboy Mpuang and newly recruited BDP activist who was also a Botswana Congress Party (BCP) parliamentary candidate for Nata/Gweta Ditiro Majadibodu wanted to recruit Vaka Mooketsi an ex-contender of Botsalano ward under Botswana Congress Party (BCP) – where he narrowly lost – which also falls under the clutches of Francistown West.
“Listen to me, I will never forsake you comrade, if you have a business idea and in your defection (to join us), and say you are publicly and officially received by the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi here at your home ground- who in their right mind can reject or turn down your applications anywhere?” one of the two BDP cadres pointed out to Mooketsi.
“We have a good government that wants to take care of its citizens as long as you are willing to stand up for yourselves. Try exiting a non-supportive environment, go to a supportive environment,” the recording captured.
These guys are willing to assist anyhow possible, am telling the truth, they stated to the probable recruit. “Politics must work for us. So what you should think is what you can do. Even if it’s not coming from you. Just bring something. They say today’s politics is mostly focused on what you benefit out of it. You should reap something out of it.”
They said sometimes we don’t benefit from the system not as we are opposition activists but because the opposition leaders kill our thinking capabilities.
According to the duo, they convinced the BCP activist that one thing they should understand is that the deal is not all about starting a shop/business but also about the “contacts” or “network” that you should have in life. “It’s all about establishing contacts,” they emphasised while pointing out that it is only that this government do it carefully.
As per dictates of automatic succession Masisi will be the president in 2018, they asserted while highlighting that everyone now wants to be close to him because of that. He knows your ward (Botsalano) and as you know it was under the watchful of his late brother Tshelang Masisi(ex-MP for Francistown West) and therefore he can easily identify with it, they stressed in the shady recruitment initiative.
The potential recruit was also told that BDP has one of the best programmes and policies in the world while they added that; “that’s why you see a youth with no political alignment applying for a programme likeLivestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) and then he is approved right away.”
An example of a success story they said in the initiative that was about people like BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane who it was said are not superior per se to anyone but that they work hard.
“They don’t sit with their brains. They initiate.”
Ntuane who formed BDP splinter party, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) although later re-traced his steps to the BDP has also benefitted from loan through his lucrative Prime Time media company.
The BDP SG confirmed to this publication that indeed “on yes I was once granted half a million loan back in 2009 which was long paid off.”
According to Ntuane, his position is that BDP government empowerment policies never discriminate on the basis of partisanship affiliation.
“In order for these false and mischievous accusations against BDP to end I think the time has come to publish the names of all past and active politicians from all parties who benefitted from government policies.” He said the time has come so that once and for all this matter is put to rest.
He maintained that in any case because these programmes and policies are funded by tax payers’ money why should the names of beneficiaries, especially politicians be kept a secret. “That only leads to suspicions, slander and falsehoods.”
The former BMD Vice president said then that re-joining BDP was the most difficult decision in his life.
Meanwhile, in the recruitment clip Majadibodu also said he recalls that while at BCP he thought he will never join BDP unless he was “bewitched”. “I know it’s a difficult decision for you to take but believe me even with myself it was also arduous to come up to a conclusion to join BDP. But was worth it.”
The former BCP Nata/Gweta parliamentary hopeful said to the BCP member that their leader is the only one making thrives at their (members) expense and courtesy of BDP. “Look at BCP President Dumelang (Saleshado), he is multi-millionaire owing to the ruling BDP government programmes. On annual basis he gets government tenders worth more than 5 million. That is why he can afford to buy himself a BMW worth 1.3 million which is similar to the one chauffeuring ministers.”
He continued: that is why he lives in a 3 storey building of the standard of 5 star hotel in Phakalane. That is why Dumelang can trade with other countries. It’s because of supportive BDP policies.
But the very same guy why can’t he raise some entrepreneurs’ within his party (BCP) and empower them?
“Instead of Dumelang hiring a bus at 1.2 million touring the country alone in it, why not utilise that 1.2 million pula in up skilling say around 10 youths and show Batswana that he can take them out of poverty and that he really means business. So that we can have model young people that symbolises that it’s not all about ourselves.”
According to the recruiters, “so it’s all about Dumelang and him alone. These guys it’s all about themselves. Have you ever see Dumelang donate P 1000 to anyone to campaign? Or to donate to a certain ward to go to BCP congress?”
However Saleshando quashed the allegations in an interview with this publication stating that “I don’t have a BMW and don’t stay in a triple storey house” and “have never tendered for a single government tender.”
But in BDP, they highlighted that certain individuals can be given financial support to go on BDP activities but they have never been part of that as they feel just satisfied. “What I want is to think and have an idea.”
But note that, they told the prospective BDP member that its’ not an issue of you been given hard cash or anything but what you should do is you come up with any proposal and you present it.“BDP can’t give you money but at least can allocate you a tender somewhere in the country as an award for joining the party so that you can sustain yourself.”
You see it’s about your life, in the party you are affiliated to; do you have a better life? They asked rhetorically.
“To be honest as one of the people who have been recruited by the BDP, I have never received not even a single cent, but BDP like any organisation, when there is nothing you don’t want to do for yourself people will end up likening you to the likes of Molefabangwe.”
But if you are a go-getter and proactive and come with initiatives to CEDA you will be most entitled as compared to other citizens, they explained.“Its two-ways you can either join BDP or opposition which will spell the end of your political career. So you have to be careful. It will depend.”
In terms of political interference, he said no politicians can influence them to tilt the scales in favour of anyone to approve their loans – particularly for political interest. “Just for starters we do not ask applicants their political membership, religious or anything like. We just want their omang that’s it. Then we assess the project based on its merit.”
Meanwhile BDP recently recruited BCP affiliates Lotty Manyapedza, Virginia Masole, Thato Osupile, and himself Ditiro Majadibodu in the same style and manner, and lately law maker for Okavango constituency Bagalatia Aarone who was said to have also benefitted from CEDA in his “defection deal.”
Aarone has however said he was entitled to the loan like any other Motswana and it was accepted based on merit.
When reached for comment Mpuang said he was in a meeting while Majadibodu confirmed that BCP’s Vaka Mooketsi is indeed one of the people he has met this year in their recruitment drive.
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.