Member of Parliament (MP) for Gabane-Mankgodi, Major General Pius Mokgware has told government that the escalating number of unemployed youth and angry soldiers at the barracks pose a great threat to the security and economy of the country.
Debating the budget for Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture presented by Thapelo Olopeng in Parliament this week, Mokgware said that the youth are slowly becoming frustrated and disgruntled as the government is failing to create decent jobs for them.
“Madam Speaker, I am really concerned about our young people who continue to loiter around the streets with nothing to do. This is a testimony that the interventions by the government to tackle unemployment have proved futile,” he said.
General Mokgware told Parliament that educated and jobless youth can be an easy target for terrorists. “We have IT graduates who lead the pack of unemployed graduates.
These people can be recruited by terrorists to develop software and viruses in order to hack our computers, destabilise water and electricity systems and destroy this country in the blink of an eye,” he cautioned. Mokgware reiterated that if the mounting problem of youth unemployment is not taken care of, young people may divert their energies to cyber warfare and use their expertise to the advantage of terrorist organisations like Boko Haram, al Queda and al Shabaab.
“We invest a lot in our education sector but I am disappointed that we cannot create decent jobs for these graduates. Majority of them are underemployed and exploited through programmes like internship and graduate volunteer scheme. Our country is in danger because these people can use their vast knowledge and skills to shut down the traffic lights and railway system as it once happened in London about eleven years ago,” he added.
Mokgware, the retired commander of the BDF ground forces observed that many young people across the country are becoming militant and radicalised, a development he said may spell doom for the country. He said violent youth who continue to terrorise people in Palapye, Thamaga, Molepolole and Kanye were just a tip of the iceberg.
He further told Parliament that Botswana should be warry of cyber spying and espionage saying that in many countries it was the idle youth who were at the helm of such activities. In addition, he said, drug lords and mafias can end up using the youth to distribute their harmful products in schools and in the end this could impact on the country’s health system as the country will have to build many rehabilitation centres.
“Rural-urban migration is on the rise and the skyrocketing unemployment could trigger riots and increase crime statistics,” he further remarked.
Mokgware suggested that the government should engage the private sector in creating employment for the youth instead of “starving the private sector as it even decided not to engage it in the Economic Stimulus Program.”
He called on the government to provide full time employment for special constables and temporary teachers.
He also blasted Botswana Qualification Authority (BQA) doubting the accreditation capacity of the institution as it was not affiliated to any international body. He said the country has the capability to export its graduates to other developing countries like South Sudan but that was impossible as the local universities were producing half-baked graduates.
Contributing to the budget of Ministry of Security, Defence and Security, Mokgware alleged that members of disciplined forces were not happy with their welfare.
“An angry soldier is a threat to the country as he is capable of doing anything,” he debated in Parliament.
Mokgware implored the government to improve the welfare of soldiers, police officers and prison warders including providing them with decent housing and regular reviews of their salaries.
Meanwhile, the second meeting of the second session of the 11th Parliament ended this week with members debating and approving the national budget which was presented by Minister of Finance and Development planning, Kenneth Mathambo last month.
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.