Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) President, Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama has embarked on a mission to restore the party’s attractiveness before he retires from the presidency in 2018.
Khama is worried that his once indomitable party will possibly lose office come 2019. The poor performance in the 2014 general elections and the subsequent by-elections losses have given Khama more reasons to worry about the party.
Since August 2015, according to party Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane, the president has been engaged in a series of mobilisation activities across the country. The activities include meetings with the Central Committee, regional tours, branch visits and other team building functions.
“So far President Khama has chaired over 39 BDP activities in a period of ten months. On Sunday he was part of the Central Committee Retreat and yesterday he chaired Central Committee meeting,” he said.
Speaking during a press conference in Gaborone this week, Ntuane further said that Khama was expected yesterday (Friday) to have led a team building activity in Mahalapye for all BDP Councillors and MPs at which he expected all 41 MPs and 430 councillors of the BDP to be in attendance.
Khama is also expected to address the Gaborone Region today (Saturday), which will mark his 41st event since August last year.
“The BDP means business as evidenced by these activities and many others,” said Ntuane.
Khama took over the reins as party and state president in 2008 from Festus Mogae, with the BDP having garnered a 50.6 percent popular vote and 44 parliamentary seats in the 2004 general elections. Khama then led BDP to an increased 52.3 percent popular vote in the 2009 general elections, taking advantage of the disarray in opposition Botswana National Front (BNF). BDP also increased parliamentary seats to 45.
However, a few months after the general elections, BDP split, resulting in the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) in May 2010. The formation of BMD was subsequent to squabbles in the party central committee, which had resulted in then party Secretary General, the now late Gomolemo Motswaledi being suspended from the party and as party parliamentary candidate for Gaborone Central.
The split, coupled with the 2011 public servant Industrial strike and formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) saw Khama leading BDP to its worst electoral performance since independence, with the party garnering 46.7 percent of the popular vote in the 2014 general elections, and saw then combined opposition increasing its presence to an unprecedented 20 seats in parliament.
“President Khama is on a mission to revitalise and mobilise the party structures at all levels in every single constituency and ward in the country,” Ntuane later told Weekend Post.
“This is a marathon assignment and is set to go on. He is positioning the party well in advance to retain government in 2019.”
By the time BDP meets for the 2017 Elective Congress, it would have already met in two special congresses in between party ordinary congresses. Following the 2015 Mmadinare Congress, where a new central committee was elected, BDP convened a special congress which was held at Limkokwing University in Gaborone. It was at this special congress that President Khama announced the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP).
The 2017 BDP Congress will be President Khama’s last as party leader, therefore he is hastening to use the time between now and then to fix BDP and position it, in a way to preserve his legacy.
This year, BDP will also converge for another special congress where particular attention will be on government business and necessarily intervention by the party. Party delegates will also be updated on the political and electoral reforms by the Public Education and Elections Committee (PEEC). The PEEC, chaired by party stalwart Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri was mandated with exploring the possibility of re-looking at political and electoral reforms by the Central Committee which was one of the resolutions of the Mmadinare Congress .
Some of the initiatives brought by Khama include appointing BDP MPs to look after constituencies which were won by opposition in the last general elections. The idea behind the initiative was to establish party presence in those constituencies so that BDP members and structures remain informed about parliamentary business.
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.