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Khama re-organises Ministries

President Lt. Gen. Dr. Ian Khama has shaped and re-designed ministerial responsibilities of his government as well as raising them from from 16 to 18.

The changes which effects after Botswana celebrates her 50th independence – on October 1, 2016 is a consequence of a law passed by parliament on Ministerial Offices (Maximum Number) Act (No.4) of 2016 which commenced on the 16th September, 2016, and increased the number of offices of Minister and Assistant Minister to 18 and 10 respectively.

“Consequently, His Excellency the President has reorganized and re-designated Government Portfolio Ministries,” said the Permanent Secretary to the President and Secretary to Cabinet Carter Morupisi in a statement.

Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration has been re-named to Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration.

Morupisi said that the ministry will coordinate Government affairs and public administration adding that good governance ensures that corruption and maladministration are not tolerated in all sectors of the economy.

“Furthermore, it enhances democracy and the rule of law. All stakeholders, Government institutions, private sector, civil society organisations and citizens must be accountable to the public. They should be timeously responsive and put in place effective and efficient processes that meet the demands of society, while making the best use of resources at their disposal,” Morupisi stated.

He said Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security will replace the existing Ministry of Agriculture.

When justifying the need for altering the ministry, the Secretary to Cabinet explained that food security emphasizes that as a nation we need to increase the production of food locally, reduce the food import bill, create sustainable long term productive employment in the sector, diversify the agricultural sector through high – value added manufacturing of local foods as well as building a culture of consuming local foods, as a first choice.

In addition Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development has replaced that of Infrastructure, Science and Technology.  According to the PSP, Infrastructure relates to construction and maintenance of Government buildings. “Housing Development focuses on ensuring that citizens have access to affordable housing or shelter and promotes home ownership through affordable Housing Schemes.”

The contemporary Ministry of Education Skills Development has been split to represent Ministry of Basic Education which will focus on strengthening early childhood development and learning, pre-primary up to Senior Secondary Education.

The other one formulated will be Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology which will be responsible for policy on student financing, tertiary institutions and coordinating research science and technology development to transform to a knowledge based economy.

The PSP emphasised that the tertiary education will make sure that it focuses on producing graduates that are relevant to industry requirements.

Additional Ministry which has also been altered is that of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism as it has been re-named to that of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism. It is said that it will coordinate environmental issues and tourism development.

Morupisi stressed: “natural resources conservation involves conservation and development of forests, wetlands, fisheries, game reserves, wildlife and scenic sites management as well as conservation of protected and ecological areas.”

He said the current Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has been re-organised to newly Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

The new Ministry he added that it shall be responsible for coordination of national development planning, monitoring implementation, mobilizing and managing financial and economic resources for achievement of inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development and overall national prosperity.

Ministry of International Affairs and Co-operation has been formed from that of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Its primary function it is said that it will be to manage international relations and promoting Botswana’s interests abroad as well as safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Ministry of Health has been extended to imply both Health and Wellness. “Apart from preventing diseases, the Ministry shall promote wellness through healthy living which entails nutrition, physical fitness, mental health and self-care by citizens,” Morupisi continued to submit.

The other new Ministry created is that of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development. The Permanent Secretary to the President said it will deal with employer – employee relations, work place safety, health and environment, productivity across sectors and in the work place (work ethics) and vocational and skills development.

Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services have also been designed to carry the functions of proper land administration and management to facilitate socio economic development through land servicing. Furthermore, he added that the sector would ensure delivery of water and reuse of grey water for both domestic and agricultural development.

According to the ministry re-organisation, Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security has also been produced.

Morupisi asserted that it shall “coordinate Mineral Development and regulation of mining activities. Green technology relates to, among others, the use of renewable energy (solar and solid waste for energy generation) to minimize environmental pollution. The combination of alternative energy sources would ensure energy sustainability and security.”

The current Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture has been re-named to Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development. It shall be responsible for Youth empowerment initiatives are meant to empower young people to become active participants in the socio-economic development of the country. The PSP noted: “development of Sport and Culture has the potential to diversify the economy, build character and promote our culture,”

Another Ministry created that will perform the duties of safeguarding national identity, facilitating movement across borders, regulate residence and work permits, registration of societies and coordinating gender mainstreaming, by promoting equality is that of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs which is currently named that of Labour and Home Affairs.

There will be no changes of responsibility to both Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry as well as Ministry of Transport and Communications. This extends also to the functions of the current Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security. Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development would also not be affected in the changes of functions.

The PSP emphasised that the expansion and re-designation of the Ministerial portfolios is intended to ensure enhanced delivery and commitment by Government of its key priority areas, being the achievement of sustained economic development, diversification through citizen empowerment and accelerated job creation, especially among the youth, to ensure dignified livelihoods for all Batswana.

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Major public services shake-up looms

24th January 2022

Public Servants should brace themselves for some changes as the government is in an overdrive mode to overhaul the public sector. The government has also set the tone for the looming changes as it has added the public sector to its looming list of major and sweeping reforms.

This is contained in a savingram from the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Emmah Peloetletse’s office showing how the government intends to “take stock” of all reforms in the public sector through the establishment of an inventory.  Peloetletse’s savingram addressed to various ministries and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) reveals that the government is working around the clock to implement some changes in the Public Service.

The savingram reminded Permanent Secretaries of various ministries and DPSM that the public sector reforms unit (PSRU) at the Office of the President is mandated with Coordinating Reforms across the Public Service.  “This essentially entails providing the strategic guidance and facilitation in the implementation of reforms across the Public Service. In this endeavour the Unit has in the past with Technical Assistance from European Union developed a template for documenting Reforms in the Public Service and documented ten (10) major reforms across the Public Service,” reads the savingram in part. It added that “The Unit has lately rolled out the Change Management Framework in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient management of change in the Public Service.”

According to the savingram, it has been noted that for a variety of reasons the use of the template for documenting reforms has not been universally used across the Botswana Public Service.  It further states that to facilitate the documentation of the reforms it is essential that an inventory of the various reforms across the Public Service (Central Government, Local Government and State Owned Entities) is established.

“By this correspondent we are seeking your assistance in populating the attached template to provide basic information on the various reforms. The PSRU will, through the various Coordination of focal Persons facilitate the full documentation of the reforms once the inventory is established,” the savingram further stated. The copy of the template among others calls on the focal persons to fill out them form under several headings; they include title of reform, start date, reform objectives, reform components, reform components, progress status.

The savingram echoes President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s announcement last year during his state of the nation address that as a nation Botswana has set itself a lofty goal of becoming a high income country by 2036 and has come up with a list of reforms among them digitisation of government infrastructure. He said the path to achieving this goal dictates that, Botswana takes deliberate steps that will transform its institutions; the way Batswana think and the way they act.

“It is with this in mind, that I presented a Reset Agenda in May 2021, with the following priorities: Save Botswana‘s population from COVID-19, by implementing a series of life saving measures that include a successful and timely vaccination programme, Adherence to COVID-19 health protocols remains key and align Botswana Government’s machinery to the Presidential Agenda, to ensure that the national transformation agenda will be embodied in the public service of the day,” said Masisi. He added that, “this will come with significant Government reforms in all public institutions. We need greater agility and responsiveness like never before in the delivery of public services.”

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Covid-19 Task Force meddled in tenders-report

24th January 2022
Dr. Kereng Masupu

The Presidential COVID-19 Task Force reportedly meddled in the awarding of tenders for COVID-19, a new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has revealed.

The Committee expressed concern that it has noted that there are two centres for covid procurement being the Ministry of Health and the Covid Task team in the Office of the President. The report says the Committee questioned the Accounting Officer on why the COVID 19 task team is usurping the powers of the Ministry of Health by engaging in covid procurement when the Ministry of Health is the one which has the experience and mandate of dealing with the pandemic. The report says clarification was also sought on why direct appointment is the preferred method for covid procurement.

“In her response the Accounting Officer stated that the task team was mainly engaged in the procuring of quarantine facilities and was assisting the Ministry of Health due to the heavy workload brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic,” the report says. The report says the Accounting Officer further stated that direct procurement was used because COVID 19 was treated as an emergency and that procurement was mainly from companies that have been traditionally used by the Ministry of Health.

“This however, is not the case as there has been report of new companies being awarded COVID -19 contracts. The use of direct procurement method should only be used in exceptional cases as it’s a non-competitive method which increases the risk of inflated pricing and close relations with particular suppliers to the detriment of others,” the report says.

It says since most covid procurement fell under emergency, there is need for openness and transparency regarding the procurement.  The PAC recommended that in order to ensure transparency and accountability all COVID 19 related procurement should be periodically published in the PPADB website giving full details of the companies receiving procurement contracts and the beneficial owners of the companies.

It says with the passage of time the impact of covid is no longer unexpected so direct awards should gradually be abandoned as the medium and long-term needs of the pandemic can now be predicted. “Judgement should be used even during direct awards to ensure that prices are not higher than the market prices,” the report says.

In a related matter, the report says the Central Medical Stores (CMS) was unable to cater for the required quantities of medical supplies with order fulfilments of about 35% resulting in shortages and insufficient drugs to Athlone Hospital and the surrounding clinics.
“In his submission the Accounting Officer had indicated that CMS was unable to supply the exact quantities required by the hospital and surrounding clinics due to the fact that supplies from CMS have to be rationed in order to cover other facilities around the country,” says the report.

The committee expressed concern about the inadequate supply of drugs to government facilities which puts the lives of patients at risk due to non- availability of essential supplies. It recommended that the Ministry identifies and prioritise measures that need to be taken to ensure that there is adequate supply of essential medicines which are needed in the public health system.

Meanwhile the report says the Ministry of Health and Wellness coordinates the operations and functions of some institutions which receive government subventions and secondment of staff from the government. These institutions include 10 NGO’s, two mission Hospitals, three mission clinics and two schools of Nursing.

It says in its endeavour to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of government support to NGOs the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development developed some Policy Guidelines for Financial Support to Non- Governmental Organisations.  According to the PAC report, the guidelines were meant to ensure that there is consistency, accountability and transparency in administering public funding to NGOs. However, the Ministry of Health did not comply with the very important guidelines.

“The main areas of non-compliance were the following: (i) There was no Evaluation Committee to vet proposals from NGOs, in some instances NGOs had formed part of the evaluation forum when their requests were being considered,” the report says.  It says there was continued funding of NGOs even when they failed to submit narrative and financial progress reports; and (iv) Continued funding of NGOs that failed to submit audited financial statements and management letters as required. The Committee expressed concern at the lapses in the administration of grants by the Ministry despite the large sums of public money awarded to these NGOs.

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BDF killings of Namibians: Court unable to rule on missing gun

24th January 2022

The Kasane Regional Magistrate Court refused this week to rule on whether three Namibians and their Zambian cousin shot dead by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) were in possession of a rifle or not prior to their deaths.

Ruling in favour of the BDF members, Regional Magistrate Taboka Mopipi who presided over the inquest said, “It is acknowledged that no rifle has been produced before court to confirm that indeed the deceased were armed and or that there was indeed a gun shot.”  She said the evidence before the court is that search for the rifle(s) that allegedly triggered the gunfire exchange was done by both Namibia and Botswana SCUBA divers and nothing was found. She said when the said search was done, an area of search was demarcated around the scene area which was partly searched due to water animals such as hippos that launched an attack at the area during the search.

“The search was therefore never concluded. This therefore leaves a gap. To that end, the area not extensively searched, the court cannot make a finding whether the rifle in issue was there or not. This is a very crucial piece of evidence,” added Mopipi. She said the joint search did not conclude the exercise and I cannot properly make a finding of fact adding that that the rifle was there as the BDF allege can therefore not be ruled out.

The deceased are Martin Munilweye Nchindo, Ernest Nchindo, Tommy Sinvula Nchindo and Sivula Munyeme. The four deceased persons died on the night of the 5th November 2020, in the waters of the Chobe River (Southern Channel) near Sedudu/Kasikili Island in Botswana. Mopipi said the incident took place at night, in a gloomy atmosphere and that as at the time, movement in that particular area was restricted and or not permitted.

She said it was the evidence of some of the witnesses that the injuries as observed on the four deceased reflected that they were brutally assaulted and or beaten either before or after being shot. “Their evidence gained support from Witness 34, Dr. Bithoma Thotho Amis who observed post mortem on behalf of the families of the deceased and Government of Namibia. This witness however conceded during cross-examination that the injuries as observed have been caused by other contacts and or impacts such as falling and hitting the hard surface of a wooden canoe,” said Mopipi.

She emphasized that inquest proceedings have very serious consequences and therefore, whatever evidence brought before court must be produced by persons of right qualifications particularly the post mortem report which the court has to rely upon.
“The qualification of the expert is crucial in determining the credibility of the report. Upon assessment of both experts, I am inclined to adopt the reports from Witness 18, who is a qualified pathologist. A closer look at the other report indicates that the author, Witness 34 is not a qualified pathologist and it is meddled by issues outside an expert opinion,” she said.

Mopipi said reports compiled by a consultant Forensic Pathologist Dr. Kaone Panzirah-Mabaka show the causes of death as follows; Sivula Munyeme, gunshot injury to the chest and extremities, Martin Nchindo, gunshot wound to the abdomen and pelvis, Ernest Nchindo, multiple gunshot injuries to the chest and extremities and Tommy Nchindo, gunshot wound to the chest and abdomen.

“Medical evidence therefore prove conclusively that the four deceased persons died due to gunshots injuries. It is undisputed that the injuries were inflicted by seven (7) members of the Botswana Defence Force; Lieutenant Moreri Kenneth Mphela, Sergeant Ndingisano Nfazo, Sergeant Puisano Pistor Kgokong, Private Mbikiso Tafila, Private Emmanuel Moganetsi Majuta, Private Barulaganyi Rannosang and Private Oromilwe Motlhabi,” said Mopipi.

Mopipi found that there was a gunshot from the direction of the men to the direction of the BDF section.  “The BDF members retaliated and returned fire. This was done in accordance with Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) within the BDF. According to the SOPs, in case a soldier is being fired at, they fire back and do not have to wait for a command,” she said. She added that “The gunfire exchange was brief and after it ceased, they used a torch to light where the men were and established that all the four men were motionless, two in one canoe, one in the other and the other man lying on the edge of the river on the Island.”

She said, “The evidence of the witnesses is that, when they followed the intel, the intent was to conduct an investigation. There was clearly no intent on their part to shoot the deceased, they did that as an act of retaliation.”

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