Botswana National Front (BNF) President, Duma Boko is set to be unopposed for presidency at the party’s July congress to be held in Francistown.
The latest circulating lobby lists indicate that Boko has the support of both camps, and will be unchallenged for the second time since being elected in 2010. But his deputy Same Bathobakae does not command the same gravitas; she must fight off a determined hopeful in Dr Rev Prince Dibeela, the former Parliamentary candidate for Molabowabojang/Mmathethe.
The two lobby groups are said to be headed by the long serving BNF Publicity Secretary, Moeti Mohwasa and Shaun Nthaile who is an incumbent Member of Parliament.
Mohwasa’s lobby list is predominately made up of serving members of the central committee while Nthaile’s team is predominantly made of those who are hoping to make it for the first time into the central committee.
Mohwasa’s lobby list supports Bathobakae for Vice President while Nthaile’s lobbyist is rooting for Dr Rev Dibeela as the party’s number two.
Bathobakae first became BNF Vice President in 2012 following the resignation of Isaac Mabiletsa from the same position. Mabiletsa joined another opposition party, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).
In 2013 Bathobake defeated Dr Elmon Tafa to defend her position. She became the first female from opposition ranks to win a Parliamentary seat in a general election, and the second female to win Parliamentary seat after Habaudi Hubona won a 2013 by-election in Francistown.
Meanwhile, Dr Dibeela is credited for playing an instrumental role in the opposition cooperation talks which led to the formation of the UDC. He is a long time BNF member. Dr Dibeela has been one of the civic leaders involved in facilitating the cooperation of opposition parties since 2001. He was a member of the Committee for the Strengthening of Democracy which sought to bring unity to opposition parties.
In this role he acted as one of the facilitators of the PACT, he also worked closely with Cde Moupo, Cde Mpho and Cde Lepetu Setshwaelo, Cde Bernard Balikani as Mediator in cases where the PACT arrangement was faltering. As a recognized political player he was regularly invited as speaker to different political events. Dr Dibeela and Mr Mpotokwane were also co-conveners of the talks of Presidents in 2006, which collapsed after a short spell.
Dr Dibeela became Synod Secretary of the UCCSA at a very young age. He rose in the leadership of the Church and worked as a Mission Consultant in Leicester, England, served as UCCSA General Secretary for 8 years based in Johannesburg until 2013 overseeing mission work in 5 countries.
During that time he also served as a Moderator (President) of the Council for World Mission, a global organization of 15 million Congregational Christians across the world. In this role he was overseeing mission work of Congregational Churches in Africa, the Caribbean, East and South Asia, Europe and the Pacific. He is well respected in religious circles internationally including in the World Council of Churches.
KESUPILE WILL NOT DEFEND BNF CHAIRMANSHIP
Several candidates are lining up to take up the chairmanship position, currently held by Abram Kesupile. The Kanye South MP has indicated intention not to defend his seat.
BNF Secretary General, Tapiso Kgosikoma, who was elected at the 2013 congress will not be seeking re-election for the position but has shown interest in contesting for the vacant chairmanship position.
Former Gaborone City Council Mayor, Harry Mothei has also launched his bid for the position of party chairman. Other candidates for the position of chairman include; former BNF 2009 Parliamentary candidate for Gaborone West South (now Gaborone Bonnington South) Moses Bantsi, Kgagamatso Kebiditswe, and Abigail Mogalakwe.
Long serving member of the central committee and party spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa intends to challenge for the position of the Secretary General where he is expected to lock horns with Jwaneng/Mabutsane MP Shaun Ntlhaile.
The position of the Treasurer has not attracted many contestants with MP for Ghanzi North, Noah Salakae being the only candidate so far. Incumbent Treasurer Aubrey Lesaso has indicated his decision not to contest for the position again.
The position of the Deputy Secretary General will see a contest between Tona Mooketsi and incumbent, Shadikoo Shampoo.
Two candidates, Benjamin Kelepang and former unionist Justin Hunyepa have expressed interest to replace Mohwasa as party spokesperson. Hunyepa is currently UDC’s Labour Secretary.
Party ideologist Dr Elmon Tafa, who challenged for the position of Vice President at the last congress will now contest for Secretary for Political Education. Tafa has previously held the position of Secretary for Political Education.
The BNF Youth League which also goes for an elective congress in March is polarised along the two main lobby groups. This publication has established that the Richard Khumoekae team supports the lobby list lead by Nthaile while Kago Mokotedi’s team supports a team led by Mohwasa.
However both teams support Boko for Presidency. Boko who assumed the reins in 2010 has been credited with reviving the BNF.
Boko ascended to the party presidency after beating former party youth league President Gabriel Kanjabanga. Before the congress, the duo fought a protracted court battle, with Kanjabanga challenging Boko’s membership and his eligibility to contest the elections. The High Court however ruled in Boko’s favour.
Boko was again elected unopposed at the Gantsi 2013 Congress, despite efforts by a youthful Poloko Monang to put his name forward albeit failing to garner support for nomination from the regions.
The Gaborone Bonnington North legislator has also been helped by what is widely perceived as much improved electoral success, after he helped to co-found Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) which garnered a historic 17 seats in Parliament in the last general elections.
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.