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Bangwaketse vow to report Bathoen II Trust to DCEC

Some concerned members of Bathoen II Dam Nature Sanctuary Management Trust, which was motivated by the late visionary Kgosi Bathoen Gaseitsiwe II of Bangwaketse, have vowed to report the incumbent Trust board members for financial misappropriation and potential corruption at the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).

WeekendPost previously, ran a story in February detailing a damning audit report. The report suggested the Trust books from 2011 to 2014 were being investigated. The classified report revealed “loopholes” in the running of affairs of the Trust.  It discovered missing receipts and duplicate receipt books as well as inactive accounts of the Trust which were never closed and suspicious financial practices.

 “This is a serious matter that needs attention and redress. We will approach the DCEC to assist investigate potential corruption and maladministration practices on the matter with regard to the Trust,” chairman of the Bangwaketse concerned members of the Trust, David Radikokwana Maswabi told a press conference this week at the late Bathoen’s residence located in the vicinity of the kgotlakgolo.

Maswabi continued: “I tell you that we are going there at the DCEC to report the incumbent Trust (board members). I just want to make it abundantly clear. We are going there and we know the procedure. It’s only that we are cautious and respectful about the whole matter.”

According to the concerned members of the Trust, the Trust constitution calls for annual public release of audited financial reports, showing how several income generating projects belonging to the Trust have performed, and the current board has over many years failed in its responsibility to do so.

“The last controversial financial report was produced in 2009 and revealed rampant looting and mismanagement of the finances and properties of the Trust with total impunity of those involved,” the concerned Bangwaketse tribesmen asserted in a statement.

They also said that there are parallel management and governance structures controlling the assets of the Trust, with one for the Kanye Brigades Bathoen Trust and the other for Mmakgodumo Culture and Heritage.

“Surprisingly, credible reports indicate that such management structures have since been amalgamated into one without prior consultation with the tribe as required by the constitution.”

The concerned members further highlighted that “there is an unprecedented heightened interest of illegal operating and ghost trustees in the Kanye Brigades, precisely because it provides a handy cash cow for them and yet the income generated is not managed properly and employed for the maintenance and investments of its assets, but has instead been misappropriated.”

They consequently have declared that the Board of Trustees of the Bathoen Trust are operating illegally and unlawfully because in the first place, they were never openly and democratically voted into office at a kgotla meeting as provided for in the constitution of the organization.

The constitution of the Trust provides that office bearers must seek fresh mandate and hold election into office every two years but the Trust has never done so since coming into the office in October 2001.

And although all but one member of the Trust have relinquished their executive positions, “the remaining member has since contemptuously self-appointed his friends into office to unlawfully run the affairs of the Trust even though there is no provision in the constitution for co-opting board members.”

The members said they are now seeking legal advice because the self-appointed Board has repeatedly denied the tribe requests for public access and accountability to the latest financial report where huge sums of money are also reportedly not accounted for.

Bathoen II Trust has acquired many assets under his name which are owned by morafe spanning from Mmakgodumo dam, Ramatea ranch, King George Memorial Hall, Marapalalo Hall, Agricultural showground, Tomela Council Chambers, Ledibelo reservoir, former Tsopye dam, Dihalana, Kanye museum, a plot housing Veterinary services, Kanye Brigade Development Trust, was also involved in building Kanye Seventh day Adventist Hospital, some Primary schools including Makaba II, Maisantwa, Matsaakgang, Rachele, and was also involved in exploring the construction of Kgwakgwe mine, and Moshawa mine among others.

Although the value of the assets have not been ascertained at this point some speculate that Bathoen left behind assets for his morafe in the region of millions – which are at the centre of controversy as there are issues of alleged negligence, maladministration, corruption and unaccountability.

Chaired by Lobatse former mayor, Maswabi, the concerned members of the Trust comprise of its Secretary, Fikile Moahi, and other members include Charles Pelekekae, Kepatilwe Rex Mafoko, Keoabele Ketsile, Steyn Kgosiemang and Bakana Kgosikhumo Mokonopi.

WeekendPost has gathered that the concerned members of the Trust are a thorn in the flesh for the tribal leadership particularly presiding Kgosikgolo Malope Gaseitsiwe II who is the patron of the Trust – his grandfather’s brainchild.

Malope is said to be sympathetic to the incumbent Trust board members and has almost adopted a see-no-evil-hear-no-evil approach towards them even as concerns of flouting of the Trust constitution continue to swirl.

Bontleeng Gaseitsiwe, one of Bathoen’s two surviving daughters who was present at the press briefing, spoke fondly of her father’s development achievements but also said she was worried about how the Trust has not fulfilled its obligations as far as protecting the legacy of her father is concerned.

“How can I not be worried about the turn of events! Bathoen did all this to develop us (his subjects). He developed this village of course with the support of morafe. Horticulture was feeding us, he did a lot through his mophato, that’s why Kanye then was on the fore front. He did put us on the map.” Today, she said, Kanye is now regressing in terms of development “while we are supposed to be stepping into Bathoen’s shoes and strategy in developing the village.”

She said as the royal family, they from time to time advise reigning Kgosi Malope II although at times their advises are just taken for granted and fall on deaf ears. She further pointed out that her father addressed the problems of his tribe effectively and admirably and so should Malope.

The audit report which was leaked to this publication and was prepared by an independent audit team and commissioned by the office of the Senior Assistant Council Secretary in the Southern District Council (SDC) – unearthed possibilities of “noncompliance” of some procedures in running of Bathoen Trust.

The audit was particularly aimed at checking compliance and adherence to the Deed of Trust; checking that all relevant documents of books of accounts are maintained and recorded adequately; verifying that the employees are paid at correct rates as per their contracts and determining that all foreign employees have valid work and resident permits.

It also intended to check that all funds collected are banked whole; check if agreement entered with donor agencies are adhered to; verify and validate that Corporate Governance standards and principles are implemented and followed; as well as whether the mandate of the trust is adhered to as stipulated in the Deed of Trust.

In order to achieve the objectives, documents of the Trust were examined including;  Employees Personal files, Payroll file, Terminal benefit file, Cheque books, Income and expenditure cash books, Bank statements, Income receipt books, Deposit books, Payment vouchers, Minutes and Board Resolutions and the Deed of trust.

The Bangwaketse Concerned also brought to light that the United Nations Development Programme visited the Trust and questioned as to why the committee never changes.
Bathoen Trust Chairman Ramokone was said to be in a meeting when this publication attempted to solicit a comment from him before press time.

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Gov’t has no budget for Magosi’s SADC chase

12th April 2021
Elias Magosi

Despite the government of Botswana’s ambition to have one of its own to lead Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) since its establishment in 1980, the Presidency says there is no budget specifically dedicated to the campaign.

The Government has released the name of Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Mpedi Magosi, as the candidate for the SADC Executive Secretary position. Magosi is expected to face off with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) candidate, Faustin Mukela. The position will become vacant in August this year.

However, despite the optimism the Botswana Government has not yet set aside a budget to assist Magosi to win against the seemingly DRC giant. “We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the country’s ability to effectively fund any new project. This campaign is not an exception. As such, we do not have any budget for the campaign. However, we have so far managed to take advantage of His Excellency the President’s working visits to the neighbouring countries to also carry out the campaigns,” Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang, explained.

Botswana has housed SADC since the establishment of the then SADCC in 1980, but has never occupied top most leadership positions at the SADC Secretariat.  “We therefore, strongly believe that we should also have an opportunity to contribute to the management of our regional body as it continues to drive the important issues of regional integration industrialization and socio-economic development.

This will also profile Botswana as a strong advocate of regional integration,” he responded to this publication’s questionnaire as to why the Government wants to occupy the plum post. SADC is a Member State driven organization. As such, Leagajang said, needs a well-grounded Executive Secretary with a blend of management and leadership acumen; a transformational leader with political awareness and integrity; private and public sector experience; a deep culture of corporate governance; as well as strategic agility and result-oriented consummate diplomat.

“These are the unique attributes of our candidate,” he said. So far President Mokgweetsi Masisi has visited nine out of 16 SADC member states on a working visit and also taking an opportunity to present to them his candidate.

“The countries have appreciated this effort and we remain hopeful. However, it is important to note that this is a democratic and competitive process which must be respected,” he responded when asked about the reception and assurances from various countries to cast a vote for Magosi.

In 2018, when Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi challenged for the Africa Union (AU) Chairperson, the government appointed former President Festus Mogae to be the campaign leader. Does the Government have anyone apart from Masisi to help with the campaign?

“The campaigns for the candidate are strictly led by the Government of Botswana. Since this is a candidate for Botswana, not just the Government, it will be appreciated if all Batswana, including the media, could also shoulder the responsibility to campaign for the candidate in their own spheres of influence,” Leagajang responded.

While there are sceptics on Magosi winning against the DRC man, the Government is confident and believes that with the unique traits that he possess, Magosi stands a chance. He is said to be a strong advocate of justice and fairness as he has played this role in his current role as PSP and in his previous roles as PS and in the private sector. He has helped individuals and companies to find justice and fairness in most of their dealings with Government.

Magosi is also said to be a proponent of corporate governance and which he has relentlessly pursued in most of his career including in Government and other sectors. A strong believer in following laid down procedures and laws. “He carries a variety of skills as an HR expert with experience in different sectors, a strategist and an Organization development specialist.

His experience and exposure spans government, parastatal, private sector and at regional level as well, thus making him a suitable candidate for the regional role. He has worked with governments, businesses, development partners and politicians and is comfortable navigating through all of them,” Leagajang concluded.

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Mzwinila’s P4.3 Billion gamble to keep water flowing

12th April 2021
orth-South-Carrier

The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila looked a politician set to shoot the moon as he laid bare his billions of pula development agenda recently in Parliament.

His Ministry’s combined Recurrent and Development Budget Proposals for the 2021/ 2022 Financial Year is pegged at Four Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty – Five Million, two Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P4, 365, 219, 560). This is a budget 38.3% more than the allocation for the 2020/2021 Financial Year.

Mzwinila preluded his request to parliament with a demonstration that his Ministry has no champagne taste on a beer budget – indicating that his ministry’s expenditure at the end of February 2021P2.111 Billion or 96% of development budget; and P910 million or 90% of the recurrent budget.

Notwithstanding the budget dust, the Minister justified this year’s increase in the Ministry’s total budget. He attributed the escalation to the commencement of major projects under the water sector. These include the implementation of the North South Carrier (NSC) 22.2 covering various sub projects. Mzwinila noted that these are all public value projects which are aimed at improving the lives of Batswana.

Mzwinila’s Ministry has projected that the sum of Nine Hundred and Sixty –Three Million, Nine Hundred and Forty – Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P963, 947, 560) be permitted for the Recurrent Budget and stand part of the 2021 / 2022 Appropriation Bill ( No. 1 of 2021).

“55% of the Recurrent Budget is geared towards the Revenue Support Grant for 12 Land Boards and their subordinate authorities while the sum of P5 Million is allocated to the Real Estate Advisory Council (REAC). The remaining 44% is proposed for the Ministry Departments.”

The sum of Three Billion, Four Hundred and One Million, Two hundred and Seventy –Two Thousand Pula (P3, 401, 272, 000), for the Development Budget was approved and stand part of the same schedule of the appropriation (2021/2022).

When breaking down the Development Budget, Minister Mzwinila noted that Water Supply and Sanitation projects will account for P1.098 Billion to finance the Maun Water and Sanitation project, Molepolole Sanitation projects and the Shakawe Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation.

With all the implementation bottlenecks troubling several projects in the country, Mzwinila had to satisfy the question of whether his Ministry demonstrated a dire need for the budget with reference to its execution of the budget for the financial year 2020/2021 and its delivery of strategic initiatives and projects?

Mzwinila’s pitch found favour with parliament and his ministry will get an aggregate budget of P3.198 Billion for the 2020/ 2021 Financial Year. Within this allocation, P2.188 Billion is for the Development Budget and P1.010 Billion will cover the Recurrent Budget.

The Minister revealed his strategic interventions for land management, water and sanitation services. Highlighting that efforts by Government to provide serviced residential land to citizens on the waiting list are being hampered by limited resources. He shared that his ministry needs P94 Billion to cover such costs which will directly link to water, sewage, roads, electricity, telecommunications and storm water drainage leading to the allocation of 4 587 plots on un-serviced land.

The minister projected that 22 952 un-serviced residential plots are planned to be allocated in the next financial year. However, there is a trend where allocated land remains fallow and undeveloped which raises misgivings that the requests could have been made on speculative plans.

Mzwinila noted that in the spirit of forging stronger International connections, the Ministry will in June 2021 sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Land matters between Namibia and Botswana with the aim of opening doors to the creation of Dry Ports in the country, facilitate international trade through Walvis Bay Sea Port.

Botswana is already challenged by scarcity of naturally occurring water resources due to the aridity of the country creating persistent water shortages. The type of infrastructure required to improve national water security is a true reflection of intensive investment needed in the water sector The Minister stressed.

“An emerging issue such as the COVID -19 pandemic poses serious challenges as the control of the virus requires reliable water supply. In an effort to mitigate the challenge, the Ministry has undertaken extensive bowsing throughout the country which included the provision of additional capacity for supplementary bowsing to areas with pervasive water shortages, plus an additional forty one (41) un-gazetted settlements.

Operational costs due to bowsing were at an average of P6 Million per month before the COVID-19 pandemic and increased to an unsustainable amount of the order of P13 Million per month, since the beginning of the State of Emergency in April 2020,” the minister shared.

Through the support of a World Bank Loan, the Ministry is implementing several initiatives under the Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency (BEWSE) project. Through BEWSE the Raw Water Pricing and Abstraction Strategy will assess the pricing of water in a manner that enables the provision of water to support new economic development, the strategy is planned to be completed in June 2021.

The Ministry has commenced the development of a long term National Water Security Strategy to improve resilience to climate change impacts. The strategy development entails prioritization of the proposed future mega water transfers such as the Chobe – Zambezi water transfer, the Atlantic Ocean water transfer to Botswana through Namibia and Lesotho – Botswana water transfer.

Following the signing of the tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa in November 2017 for the Lesotho –Botswana Water Transfer project, a 24 months contract for a combined prefeasibility and feasibility study for the development of a bankable Lesotho – Botswana Water Transfer project feasibility study was signed and is to be completed in 2022.

One of the Ministry’s famous major water supply projects such as the North South Carrier (NSC) 2.2 has experienced hiccups; having tenders for contract 1 (Masama to Mmamashia Pipeline) and Contract 2 (Mahalapye to Masama Pipeline) cancelled due to budgetary constraints.

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Will Botswana’s Climate Change policy climax?

12th April 2021
Botswana Climate

The Botswana Climate Change policy draft of 2021 was tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Philda Kereng for consideration and adoption.

The policy attempts to indicate the country’s environmentally conscious development agenda as Substantial resources are being dedicated to research and policy efforts to mitigate climate change and support adaptation to the current and future impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.

Kereng indicated that Botswana is not immune to the impacts of climate change and it continues to delay the country’s national development efforts and that the key economic development sectors dependent on the climate system have recorded declines over the years due to the variability of the rainfall and other climatic conditions. Experts elsewhere have pointed out that lack of consideration of population dynamics hampers the development of stronger, more effective solutions to the challenges climate change poses – hopefully this policy if effectively implemented could partly answer this question.

Kereng underscored that sectors such as agriculture, water, bio diversity, health and tourism have suffered the most and the consequences of these have contributed significantly to the decline of livelihoods in Botswana especially in rural areas.

To respond to the changing climate, Botswana has embarked on sectoral reform such as climate smart agriculture, poverty alleviation initiatives, building resilience on the economic productive sectors, diversification of tourism for the improvement of livelihoods and income generation, local economic development and sustainable environment.

The efforts require a coordinated mechanism that will provide an enabling environment for an integrated approach to the formulation and implantation of development plans and socio economic related policies in Botswana that are responsive to the changing climatic conditions.

Minister Kereng explained the draft policy is characterized by an inclusive and integrated approach to social, economic development and governance modalities that would enable the country to achieve a sustainable development pathway. It provides opportunities for improved livelihoods through creation of green jobs, development and transfer of relevant technologies as well as creation and ease of access to both local and international markets. It also commits the government, private sector and non-state actors to adopt adaptation and mitigation measures that would facilitate sustainability and building of resilience of all sectors.

While Members of Parliament were trying to comprehend the policy, this publication got in touch with Green Botswana to solicit their views on the policy draft. Ms. Sela Motshwane, the Founder of the Trust highlighted that “the Climate Change policy was meant to be read in August 2019. It is long overdue, and we all need to see it and understand it in full.

I understand the current budget does not allow for a full implementation- but I could be wrong. More funds could have been allocated since. I think generally, Batswana need to understand fully what this means to our daily lives. I believe the true understanding is by policy drafters and the Ministry of Environment only.”

In the same vein, Green Botswana Trust took to the streets to provide a community solution to climate change on World Health Day (Wednesday). Green Botswana held a “Free Trees for Babies” at Extension 2 Clinic where fruit trees were gifted to parents, expectant mothers, 25 health workers, police officers and the prison officers who had accompanied prisoners to the clinic.

Motshwane said: “The decision to do the “Free Trees for Babies” by gifting fruit trees was to raise awareness to our imminent food security issue as stated by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr. Thabang Botshoma and encourage the general public to plant a tree so that we can reach our SGD Goal 13 : Climate Action. The trees gifted are to be named after the baby recipient”.

Green Botswana is calling for the urgent action from government and members of the public to create a culture of community accountability and collegiality in moving Botswana towards climate action and sustainability. To achieve the 2030 Paris Agreement Pledge, it will take all citizens and not just the government to reach goals.

Parliament resolved to adopt the Botswana Climate Change Policy, 2021.

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