Governments should consider consulting Botswana on its anti-poaching model rather than support ivory torching, Minister of Wildlife, Environment and Tourism Tshekedi Khama said earlier this week while addressing the media on the country’s stand with regards to the historic ivory burn event this weekend in Kenya.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to burn a 105 tonnes stockpile of ivory this weekend, including 1.5 tonnes of rhino horn-the ivory stockpile is regarded as the largest to be set to fire by one country. The move, is believed will protect elephants. Kenya said the burning, which will take place at the end of the Giants Summit in the city of Nanyuki, would send a message to poachers and ivory-trafficking syndicates that the ivory had no value.
However, Khama said, at the press conference, that while Botswana is attending the Giant’s Club Summit in Nanyuki to represent its commitment to finding lasting solutions to ensuring the longevity and sustainability of Africa’s wild elephant population, it would not attend the burning ceremony.
The minister does not believe in the burning of ivory because, he said, his government has told communities co-existing with elephants that the elephants have value.
“As a government we should practise what we preach. I don’t know how I demonstrate to future generations the value of something I burn. We burn rubbish, and ivory isn’t rubbish,” the outspoken minister told the media.
According to the minister, Botswana’s accomplishment stems from political will brought about through transparency coupled with successful programmes within communities and zero tolerance towards poaching and sustainable management of natural resources.
“Africa needs to lead and not allow others to lead them on how to handle such. A lot more countries are paying attention and want to have us lobby with them, particularly because of our anti-poaching model,” the minister asserted.
According to Minister Khama, the country has the least poaching cases because of the anti- poaching model it uses.
Botswana has adopted a controversial “shoot to kill” policy against poachers, which according to media reports has created tension between her and countries it shares borders with. The country has been accused of valuing wildlife more than it does human life.
He further said that the continent needed “meaningful help” and does not need outsiders to come and tell them how to “play the game on the field”.
The country’s stockpiles, he said, would be kept in case trading laws changed or bans were lifted in future. There has been an international ban on ivory trade since 1989 and Ivory sales are also illegal under the terms of CITES, the international convention on the trade in endangered species, to which Botswana is a signatory.
While the international ivory trade was banned in 1989 one-off sales of ivory stockpiles have since been permitted and trade in old ivory is also allowed, giving criminal smugglers cover for their illegal trade.
Furthermore, the minister lamented that the country, being a middle income country isn’t getting donations towards anti-poaching. He said while the MEWT was working with the Police Services and the Defence Force, the departments too had their own mandates they needed to tend to. He decried the lack of air cover to monitor endangered species.
The minister however said, the Tlhokomela Endangered Wildlife Trust, housed by his ministry and started late last year was well on track. He said the trust was making headway in raising funds towards anti-poaching initiatives in the country and it has remained accountable to its donors.
Ivory is sought out for jewellery and decorative objects and much of it is smuggled to China, where many increasingly wealthy shoppers are buying ivory trinkets as a sign of financial success.
It is estimated that more than 30,000 elephants are killed for their tusks every year.
Various Heads of States including Hollywood big shots are in attendance of the Giants Summit. President Khama however could not attend the summit and sent his brother, Minister Khama.
BOTSWANA HOME TO 40% OF WORLD’S ELEPHANTS
Botswana is home to at least 160 000 elephants, more than anywhere else in the world.
During the 2013 African Elephant Summit, urgent measures which needed to be implemented to combat elephant poaching and trafficking of ivory were agreed on.
Some of them included adopting a zero tolerance approach to elephant poaching and ivory trafficking and enhancing capacity of law enforcement and wildlife protection agencies.â€¨â€¨
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.