Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Chairman, Nehemiah Modubule has revealed that his faction has resolved to engage Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader Duma Boko and different social groups in an attempt to break the paralysis consuming his party.
Modubule said that they have resolved to seek audience with Boko, UDC Chairman Motlatsi Molapisi, the clergy, labour unions, and, University of Botswana Democracy Research Project, as well as the 2011 conveners of opposition cooperation talks, Lebang Mpotokwane among others, in a bid to save the party from itself and break the ensuing factional standoff.
Modubule said that the purpose is to brief the organisations and UDC coalition leaders about BMD’s National Executive Committee (NEC) paralysis and conflict to avert the mooted party Special Congress, which he says, will only intensify the complications bedeviling his party.
Remarkably, the former Lobatse Member of Parliament revealed that, so far, no one, even the conveners of opposition talks, has come forward in an attempt to deescalate the rising tension and mediate reconciliation between the two brawling faction’s despite their skirmishes threatening to boil over into the UDC coalition.
Modubule said: “We have taken this step because we believe that these issues can be addressed by engaging one another. We don’t see why we cannot talk about these issues because anything called a Special Congress will only worsen these issues.”
He further said that calling a Special Congress to resolve BMD crisis is not a solution, as it risks haemorraging the country’s youngest political party from inside, before it grows.
Modubule described the mooted Special Congress to be an exercise of caressing egos at the detriment of the party as it will pit supporters of the two factions against each other.
However, the rivalling faction marshalled by party President Ndaba Gaolathe and his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi, believe that the Special Congress is a right antidote for the paralysis engulfing the party.
Mmolotsi told this publication that unlike the 2011 opposition parties’ convention that resulted in cobbling together opposition parties into UDC, the current situation in the BMD is an intra-party matter that has to be remedied by Congress because party leaders are accountable to party members.
He further said that it would be unfair to think that Congress, which gave the current NEC a mandate to steward the party, is only needed when voting and cannot solve the problems of the same NEC they voted into power.
He said that as per the party constitution the Special Congress is a consultative meeting and not a platform where some party members are going to be purged.
“That is a consultative gathering; and not convention where some people are going to be purged as some comrades seem to think,” said Mmolotsi.
He also said that all the regions that his faction has so far visited have acceded to convening the Special Congress, and they include Southern region, Kweneng, Gaborone, Serowe, Maun and Francistown regions.
Perhaps as a sign that the factionalism gripping the party will not abate anytime soon, Mmolotsi said that they will continue with the regional consultations. The yearlong BMD troubles started with the membership reapplication of former presidential aspirant, Sydney Pilane back into the BMD.
Pilane’s detractors raise his lawyer-client ties with Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) boss Isaac Kgosi, a man deeply unpopular in opposition party quarters, as a reason for their distrust. In that regard, some in the rivalling faction have labeled Pilane a State sponsored agent provocateur.
Further, they view his reentrance into the party with cynicism because a few months before his reapplication, Pilane had strongly contested allegations that he harbored intentions to come back into the party, denying intentions to challenge Gaolathe for BMD presidency and ultimately UDC leader Duma Boko, for the leadership of the coalition.
They further see him as a man who abandoned the party in 2012 amid a mass exodus of leadership defectors back to the ruling BDP, long before it attained success inside the UDC fold and now wants in when things are looking up.
Pilane left BMD after losing to the late Gomolemo Motswaledi for BMD presidency, allegedly to further his legal career by positioning himself for the position of a High Court Judge.
However, when he left, he said to have gifted the party a sum of P5000 and instructed party leadership to always come to him when in need of financial assistance, albeit through discreet channels. Pilane is also said to be paying salaries of two party office employees, its rentals and utilities.
Despite, signaling conciliatory overtures, the Modubule-Mangole axis will also continue with regional tours, with a stop at Tobane this weekend.
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.