President Lt. Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi
President Lt. Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama may release Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi for the Chairmanship of African Union Commission.
WeekendPost has established that Khama has given the move thumbs up as, given her credentials, Venson-Moitoi will represent the country well and in particular the AU as the highest decision making organ of the continent.
The Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) has unanimously endorsed the Botswana candidate – Moitoi – for the position, and stakes are high for other regions, as it is widely believed that the continent may opt for another Southerner in the coming election following Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini -Zuma’s remarkable performance at the African body.
After having served in the AU for four years now, Dlamini-Zuma’s chairmanship ends in June this year. She is said to be a leading candidate earmarked to succeed embattled President Jacob Zuma whose term maybe cut short following the constitutional court ruling on Thursday that found him guilty of flouting the constitution in using public funds to upgrade his Nkandla private residence.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation released a statement yesterday confirming Moitoi’s candidature, citing that as the candidate for the Southern African region, Venson-Moitoi, will compete for the position with candidates’ from other regions of Africa.
The decision by President Khama to release Venson-Moitoi and the possible subsequent victory in the contestation will leave Serowe South constituency vacant – which will naturally warrant a bye election and a ministerial vacancy.
Serowe South is a well-known stronghold of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with Venson-Moitoi having safely won the seat with a margin of more than 7 000 votes against Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s Brigadier Iphemele Kgokgothwane in 2014.
The Minister of MoFAIC is expected to consult with a possibility of bidding farewell to the constituents next week after she returns from a long leave. She was first elected to Parliament in 1999 and ever since then she has been enjoying landslide victories.
Former Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) Chairperson Louis Sibanda, a close ally of Venson-Moitoi, is seen as a strong contender to succeed her – should she win the AU chairperson bid. Another hopeful, Sefane Phuthego may have dented his chances by contesting against her in the previous 2014 BDP primary election.
Indications suggest that the incumbent Serowe South legislator will further consult with President Khama on the contestation as they might differ somewhere while at AU – hence the dialogue is necessary. While at AU, the duo may differ in ratifying some treaties notwithstanding that they have worked under the same government.
It is expected that the elections for the position will be held during the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU, which will take place from 17 to 18 June in Kigali, Rwanda.
It is understood that the decision to endorse Minister Venson-Moitoi as candidate for the AU Chairperson-ship “was taken at the meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Southern Africa Region held in Gaborone on the 23rd March 2016”.
This publication has established that 10 SADC countries have endorsed Venson-Moitoi including their rival Zimbabwe with whom they have had differences in the past over Robert Mugabe’s legitimacy as a President following disputed elections.
Botswana has ruffled a few feathers through her roof-top diplomacy pinned on its constitutional obligations and shrewd principles based on human rights, rule of law and effective democracy. They have almost not spared any country in denouncing against flouting and inconsistency in the said principles.
In the past, Botswana has broken ranks with fellow African countries with regards to affiliation to the International Criminal Court (ICC). When others in the continent denounced the Court for its double standards saying it targeted African leaders and turned a blind eye to western countries, Botswana rooted for it.
The country still uses the death penalty which is entrenched in its constitution and this has rubbed other countries the wrong way including neighbouring South Africa. Botswana is also known for her abhorrence to gay rights, which is against most western countries agenda however, recently the CoA ruled in favour of a homosexual organization, LEGABIBO and ordered it was free to register.
It remains to be seen whether this rooftop diplomacy will affect Botswana (represented by Venson-Moitoi)’s performance for the AU top post in the next 3 months when African countries look for a replacement for exiting Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who made history as the first woman AU chair in 50 years. Moitoi will be the second, should she win.
WeekendPost has also gathered that AU Chairmanship rotates amongst the African regions, but a lot of people felt that the SADC region may continue, and it is still unclear if they (other regions) will field candidates in the contestation.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission is the Chief Executive Officer, legal representative of the AU and the Commission’s Accounting Officer. The Chairperson also exercises executive functions in the running of the AU affairs and is responsible for the delivery of the agenda of the Organisation aimed at advancing greater continental integration for a more prosperous Africa.
The AU Commission comprises of the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and eight (8) Commissioners of peace and security; political affairs; trade and industry; infrastructure and energy; social affairs; rural economy and agriculture; human resources, science and technology; and economic 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.