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Bathoen II Nature Management Trust mismanagement mystery unravels

A management committee assigned with overseeing the Bathoen II Dam Nature Sanctuary are trampling on its deed of trust and/or constitution, a classified audit report leaked to Weekend Post has revealed.  

The audit report came as a result of special investigations of the Trust Management books of accounts and operations.

The audit has painted a dire picture of operations by the trust management.  

Bathoen II trust is an initiation by Bangwaketse to manage the morafhe resources which were accumulated during the reign and inspiration of the ex- paramount Chief and visionary leader, the late Kgosikgolo Bathoen Gaseitsiwe II.

Bathoen is the grandfather to the current Kgosikgolo Malope. However the audit report has revealed that there are misappropriations in the trust albeit at the grandson’s watch.
No board elections held since 2001

According to the audit, there are no records to show that any elections were held since the establishment of the trust on the 18th December 2001.

Nevertheless, clause 5.3 of the deed of trust provides for a two year term of office for board members from the date of election.

Some board members have served the trust way beyond the 2 year term – and fall short of almost being life members.

“It is also observable that some board members may have been co-opted as there are no records to show participation of the general members in nominating candidates for election to the board at kgotla meetings,” the audit pointed out.

It has since been acclaimed that the board be dissolved and a new board be elected, adhering to the deed of trust.
Board treasurer still has not been appointed

Furthermore, the audit states that clause 5.12 of the trust’s deed provides that a board member should hold the position of treasurer. However, the records “show that the board has not appointed anyone to hold the position of treasurer.”

Consequently it was highlighted that the board should have a treasurer who has a financial background and, the importance of such position was also emphasised as it can enhance the management and utilization of the trust’s funds.

It was also suggested that the responsibilities of the board as shown in the deeds of trust should be to ensure that financial reports are maintained and audited each year.

No general meetings have been convened so far    

The audit also highlighted that the trust had never held any general meetings, according to minutes availed.

According to the deed of trust clause 11, the board committee members should hold a general meeting once every two months with the Bangwaketse public for consultation and reporting trust business to the general membership.

Clause 11.5 gives other stakeholders such as Kgosi Kgolo Malope Gasitsiwe II or his representative, Ngwaketse Land Board, Councillor, District Administration, Department of

Wildlife and National Parks, Agriculture, Department of Forestry and Range Resources the right to attend all general meetings.

General Meetings are to be held at Kanye main Kgotla and the board should extend the invitation to other stakeholders.  

The involvement of all stakeholders in all stages of management processes was stressed by the audit report.

Take-over of Kanye Brigade marred with contradictions

As it stands, the audit posits that there are neither minutes nor records which show when the trust took over Kanye Brigade Development Trust (KBDT). In addition, information gathered through interviews is not consistent.

“According to telephone conversations with Mr. E Thabeng on the 27/07/2015 at 15:20 hours he mentioned that the takeover was on August 2010,” and while another “conversation with Mr J. Nyarabi on the 27/07/2015 at 15:40 hours he mentioned that the takeover was on August 2011.”

It is understood that, after the takeover the deed of trust was never amended to change the mandate of the trust.

Kgosi Kgolo Malope’s role in the Trust

Kgosi Malope II is a patron to the Trust. Sources close to the Trust have told Weekend Post that he is too soft and too close to the life-long Trust board members and this raises more eyebrows.

“Some of the board members are old folks and also act like advisors to the Kgosi, consequently making it unlikely for him to call them to order – especially for accountability purposes and adherence to the constitution of the trust,” a source close to the developments highlighted.   

Meanwhile, during a lebatla (meeting) called by Kgosi Malope at Kanye main kgotla recently, in the course of questions and comments session, a tribesman cautioned about morafe’s various committees’ noncompliance of their established constitutions.

“There is the Agricultural show committee, museum committee, Mmakgodumo sanctuary committee and others. My only advice is that their constitutions should be strictly observed at all times, as it’s not the case now,” he stressed in a carefully worded warning to the fully packed tribe gathering.

Who are the Trust board members?

Some members who it is understood have associated, served and/or still serve in the Bathoen II Dam Nature Sanctuary Management Trust include the likes of its Chairperson Mr Basiamang Ramokone, Mr Leach Tlhomelang, Ms Lehela Sebonego, Ms Elizabeth Mabe, Mr Frank Ramantele, Mr Pontius Mokgosana, Mr Geoffrey Serebolo, and Stephen Sorinyana.

What valuable assets does Bathoen II Dam Nature Sanctuary oversee?

The infamous Trust owns ample land in the region of 275 139 hectares that encompasses good-looking forest landscape comprising Pharing caves and the famous Bathoen II Dam (also known as Mmakgodumo Dam).

The Sanctuary was to be used as a tourist attraction. Some of the activities that take place in the area include recreational activities, partying, fishing, camping, bird viewing, visitors can also explore the Pharing forestry, Gorge and Cave.

Of recent, the Trust has also acquired the Kanye Brigade Development Trust.

The trust, through some of its notable achievements originated by Bathoen II which make part of the Trust include Marapalalo Hall, the King George Hall, Kanye Library and Tomela Chambers. He also initiated annual agricultural shows, developed thriving co-operative societies, and spearheaded the development of Moshaneng and Kgakgwe mines.

In addition, more assets managed by Bathoen trust also include Mmakgodumo farm and ranch, shops at Kanye Central Business District (CBD) which has been leased out. 

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Government sitting on 4 400 vacant posts

14th September 2020
(DPSM) Director Goitseone Naledi Mosalakatane

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.

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FNBB projects deeper 50 basis point cut for Q4 2020

14th September 2020
Steven Bogatsu

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.

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Food suppliers give Gov’t headache – report

14th September 2020
Food suppliers give Gov’t headache

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.

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