The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Working Committee has expressed displeasure at the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s handling of the Gomolemo Motswaledi commemoration event. Motswaledi was the BMD president and also Secretary General of the UDC.
At its meeting held on Wednesday this week, the BMD working committee composed of nine portfolio holders indicated that the UDC has taken over Motswaledi’s commemorations and has not bothered to engage the BMD, which was the late’s political home when he met his demise.
“We have only received an invitation letter to the Gomolemo Motswaledi commemorations. We have not been part of the process of planning for the commemorations. Yes it is true that the National Working Committee met and deliberated on a few topics which were dealt with expeditiously by the portfolio holders,” said the BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole who is also a Member of Parliament for Mochudi West.
According to Mangole the BMD will attend the Commemorations as per the invitation from the UDC but will immediately after the commemorations express their misgivings to the UDC leadership about the handling of the matter. “We cannot learn of this event about our former President through an invitation letter, we should have been involved more, consulted for that matter,” said Mangole.
The BMD secretary general stated that Motswaledi was secretary general of the UDC by virtue of being President of the BMD, “therefore MK Motswaledi was BMD first before being UDC. We feel that this is disrespect of the organisation that Motswaledi founded, and we will humbly request that in future these matters be dealt with according to processes that can agreed to be courteous,” he said. Mangole said they do not even know who is organising the event and what the program of the commemoration entails. “We are aware that we shared Motswaledi with the UDC but it is important that his true political home is not overlooked when anything that has to do with his name is organised,” said Mangole.
The UDC is organising commemorations that will focus on celebrating and remembering Gomolemo Motswaledi’s life. Motswaledi was a political giant killed by a car accident after forming the BMD along with others from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), who were either expelled from party or defecting in support of the BMD founding principles. Motswaledi was suspended by BDP leader, President Lt Gen Ian Khama, a decision that scuppered his ambition of contesting the Gaborone Central Parliamentary seat under the ruling party and chose to join the splinter BMD.
Asked about the composition of the Working Committee of the BMD, Mangole indicated that it is made up of nine members who are portfolio holders in the party. He said it must be noted that the President, Ndaba Gaolathe and his deputy, Wynter Mmolotsi did not attend the working committee meeting held on Tuesday.
It is on record that Gaolathe and Mmolotsi are working parallel to some of the National Executive Committee members especially the secretary general and the party chairman, Nehemiah Modubule. The two camps are split on whether the party should call a special congress or not. A deliberation on the need for a Special Congress arose after the majority of the NEC voted to include Advocate Sydney Pilane in the list of BMD negotiators at the anticipated UDC talks which will include the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) this time around. Gaolathe, Mmolotsi and a small section of the NEC is against Pilane being granted full membership of the party and have called into question the ability of the current NEC to run the affairs of the party.
Meanwhile Mangole told this publication that the Working Committee on Tuesday also noted 19 letters received from various constituencies requesting for a Special Congress. He said the letters were only noted and the final decision rests with the National Executive Committee which will meet on the 13th of August 2016. Gaolathe’s camp is confident that it has secured enough numbers to push for a Special Congress which is expected to change the composition of the current NEC by way of voting for new leaders. On the other hand Mangole and Modubule’s camp is against the special congress and had asked for reconciliation as they argue that a special congress is not the solution to BMD problems.
Sharing his observations, a political commentator, Dr Wazha Morapedi said the Motswaledi Commemorations and the perceived side-lining of some in the BMD is a further demonstration of the magnitude of the conflict within the BMD. He said it is clear that Gaolathe and Mmolotsi could be privy to the planning and organisation of the Motswaledi Commemoration while the majority of the BMD NEC is in the dark.
Morapedi said it is important for BMD to solve their differences because they have a potential to derail the UDC agenda. He observed that the BMD should not make a big deal over the invitation and rather focus on broad policy issues that could craft their path as a political organisation. “The problem with our politics is that our politicians fight over small and sometimes irrelevant issues,” he said.
Contacted for comment, the UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa indicated that all the UDC partners have been invited to the Motswaledi Commemoration. Answering to the accusation from the BMD that they were not involved in the planning, Mohwasa indicated that the BMD was involved through its leader Gaolathe who is also the secretary general of the UDC. Mohwasa observed that Motswaledi was a leader within the UDC and all partners should embrace any activity planned in his remembrance. He further said they have not yet received any formal complaint from the BMD in regard to the commemorations. He was optimistic that they will have a successful event and indicated that a number of speakers have been lined up to celebrate the icon’s life.
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.