Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Eric Molale, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing ministries and to disclose to Parliament the best performing Ministries for the last two years including the main reasons for underperformance.
Sensing that Member of Parliament for Gabane-Mmankgodi, Major Gen Pius Mokgware, was trying to ensnare him into a move that will shame his failing colleagues, Molale told Parliament that the purpose of Performance Monitoring is not to identify the best or worst performers in public service, but rather to help President Lt Gen Ian Khama to closely monitor performance of Ministries and Departments.
He asserted that performance monitoring is common approach in any setting where leadership has to ensure delivery as per the agreed terms.
“This performance monitoring is based mainly on the Committee of Supply deliverables which culminate with His Excellency [President Khama] giving the State of the Nation on what Government has achieved,” he said.
Molale also, could not reveal how many scores each ministry had gotten in the last two years.
Despite opposition MPs harping on the matter and coercing Molale to reveal how the ministries are doing, Molale said ministries could not be compared since they are different in what they do.
Mokgware had posed to Molale to appraise Parliament on the best and worst performing Ministries for the last two years, main reasons for under-performance and what action had been taken by government to improve the performance.
The issue of minister score cards and performance appraisal came into light in 2011 when Khama unceremoniously sacked then Minister of Transport and Communications and former MP for Maun East, Frank Ramsden. Ramsden had scored 52 percent in the appraisal, while the trio of Nonofho Molefi (Lands and Housing), Lebonaamang Mokalake (Local Government) and Peter Siele (Labour and Home Affairs) who had scored 72, 74 and 77 respectively were ranked as best performing Ministers.
In 2014, ahead of the general elections, Khama reshuffled his cabinet which resulted with then Minister of Education and Skills Development, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, being given a special task amid reports that she was fired.
Venson-Moitoi never returned to the Ministry of Education and Skills Development after being deployed to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation following the 2014 general election. Dr Unity Dow has since been appointed substantive Minister of Education, taking over from Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi who served in the Ministry for a short spell.
Opposition legislators were not impressed by Molale’s answer as they suspected that he was covering up for those who are failing their ministerial duties.
Major Gen Mokgware said by not answering a question asked in Parliament, Molale was undermining the role of Parliament which is to provide oversight over the executive to fulfil the duty of checks and balances.
MP for Gaborone Central, Phenyo Butale said, by deliberately withholding information which they had on good authority that it is available, Molale was making mockery of the country’s Parliamentary process.
Butale also expressed his concern that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe, was allowing the Minister to get away with it which he said has a negative impact on the purpose of MPs asking questions in Parliament.
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.