President Dr. Lt. Gen. Ian Khama’s name has been dragged into the power struggles of the Botswana Scouts Association (BSA). Khama is the patron of the association.
Khama is implicated together with Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi who is its Chief Scout.
According to papers before court, BSA has many stakeholders while the president of Botswana is its patron and Minister Molefhi the Chief Scout, “and it is improper to have their names used in murky circumstances,” argued seasoned Gaborone based lawyer Uyapo Ndadi representing BSA.
“For instance, two letterheads are in public circulation bearing different names of the Chief Scout and Chief Commissioner. It is an untidy situation and thus rendering the organization ungovernable,” BSA through their attorney contended.
The matter that rubs off on Khama and Molefi as Patron and Chief Scout, emanated from a court case in which BSA wanted Chief Commissioner, Morgan Letsholathebe removed after a vote of no confidence was made on him. Letsholathebe refused to step down and the matter subsequently landed in front of Gaborone High Court’s Justice Sadique Kebonang.
Having read the arguments from BSA Justice Kebonang on Thursday afternoon granted interim orders per the Draft Order in their favour until Thursday the 11th February 2016 at 2pm when the case returns to court.
The court had nonetheless pending final ruling ordered that BSA Chief Commissioner Letsholathebe be “interdicted and restrained” to act on the position until and unless he is elected as such by BSA members.
“Mr Letsholathebe is hereby interdicted and restraint from interfering with the work of BSA’s national Executive Committee,” it stated.
It was also ordered that he immediately returned to BSA any documentation, materials and reports he has in his possession by virtue of holding the office of Chief Commissioner prior to his removal from office on 21 November 2015.
“The interdicts referred to shall operate as an interim interdict pending the final determination of the matter,” Kebonang said in the judgement.
However Kebonang has advised Letsholathebe, who was representing himself at the time, to consult his attorney (if he has one) and that he is free to do a consent agreement with the applicants (BSA). He said a response is required from Letsholathebe by the 9th of February 2016 as the matter is an urgent application.
“So the matter is to be heard properly on Thursday either through arguments or consent agreement,” Justice Kebonang highlighted in his brief judgement.
According to the papers, Letsholathebe, who is employed at the Ministry of Education is refusing to vacate office after being duly removed from office by a vote of no confidence.
“He is now causing confusion and paralyzing the work of BSA,” BSA posits.
“Letsholathebe was in November 2014 elected into office as a Chief Commissioner. The appointment was in accordance with the constitution of the applicant (BSA), in particular, article 13.1 of the constitution. His term was for 3 years. The respondent’s term was to end in November 2017.
The papers further state that the members of BSA, Council passed a motion of no confidence on Letsholathebe and thus terminating his term.
The motion of no confidence “was triggered by views shared by the majority that the respondent was failing in his constitutional mandate to lead the BSA as provided for by article 4 of the constitution”.
It remains to be seen whether Khama and Molefhi may help calm the waters or crack the whip at the esteemed organization as their names, guilty by association, has been dragged into the mud by cloudy state of affairs.
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.