Political factions that used to cause ripples in the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) have subsided their activities and closed ranks to guard against Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi’s now frequent incursions.
Up until three months back BMD was split up by two warring factions; one under the control of party President, Ndaba Gaolathe and his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi, while the other centre of power was helmed by party chairman, Nehemiah Modubule and secretary general, Gilbert Mangole. Some insiders say this could just be a temporary truce to deal with Masisi recruitment within the BMD.
Gaolathe and Mmolotsi mostly had the backing of BMD parliamentarians while the Mangole and Modubule axis generally had the backing of the large BMD central committee. Gaolathe and his team wanted a special congress this year, and it is evident that it will not happen. Some say but of the deal, allegedly brokered by former conveners of opposition talks was to call off the debate on the special congress.
In August the BMD National Executive Committee (NEC) dismissed calls for a special congress arguing that proper process was not followed in the request. Modubule was quoted in the media as stating that the letters written to trigger the special congress were questionable and that there were not accompanied by minutes from the constituencies.
However, on Thursday Mmolotsi and Mangole held a joint press briefing in a rare public show of unity not seen in well over 12 months. The two leaders conceded that the factionalism that used to rile BMD might actually be a contributing factor to the mass exodus of youths currently rocking BMD. Mangole, who is also Member of Parliament for Mochudi East further noted that reconciliation is a step by step process that takes time. For the entire duration, Mangole kept referring to Mmolotsi as “my VP.”
He however stated that while they have their own differences, the calm that has been reigning in the party lately is testament to the thawing of relations between the two factions. Since last year BMD has been losing its regional youth leaders and ordinary members to the BDP as a result of Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi’s spirited recruitment campaign from the opposition parties. Most of the defectors have been coming from the two Molepolole constituencies which fell into opposition hands for the first time in 50 years, in the 2014 general election.
In the ensuing frenzy, BMD lost youth wing leaders such as former treasurer general, Anderson Mathibe and his deputy as well as its National Organising Secretary, Gomotsegang Karabo. The now infamous Karabo, who is an orator of note, was this week implicated as the mastermind of botched recruitment activities of BMD’s two councillors and two Francistown youths who hold party positions in their region. The four BMD youth leaders who somersaulted at the last minute related that, in the heavily moneyed recruitment drive that spanned Molepolole, Phakalane and the Junior State House to Francistown, money was no object.
They related that their meetings with Masisi and his men either took place in hotels, restaurants or his state residence where they gobbled down grilled chicken and ordered to pick anything off the menu. They further stated that when they parted, sometimes in the small hours of the morning after a night of negotiations, they would each be gifted either P300 or P400. Omphemetse Demana from Francistown stated that she was told “not to walk in the sun” and transport was duly arranged for her, in the form of a big double door bakkie to meet Masisi at Marang hotel in Francistown.
She was further wired transport money via e-Wallet service to come to the capital to be welcomed into the party. The Francistown duo stated that they were on the brink of being whisked to the mall where they were to be dressed in red party colours at expensive stores, for last week’s BDP press conference, when Mangole intercepted their exit.
Mangole however stated of Masisi’s BDP: “The factional wars within the BDP are so intense that the faction leaders do not trust fellow party members. They would rather entrust their campaigns with activists recruited from the opposition. The BMD is particularly the target because BDP warring faction leaders apparently all agree that with the BDP split, hardworking cadres relocated to the BMD and they desperately need them back to fight their factional wars. The now lavishly living Karabo is actively recruiting for the Vice President’s faction.”
Mangole further stated that a plot to “annihilate and dismantle BMD is in place as it is believed to have played and continues to play a pivotal role in the opposition collective”.
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.