The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is contemplating taking legal action against the Minister of Lands and Housing, Prince Maele after he accused the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Duma Boko of plagiarism.
The accusations nearly sent Parliament into chaos and Members of Parliament from the opposition bloc demanded that Minister Maele retract his accusations. The Member of Parliament for Okavango, Bagalatia Arone was consequently thrown out of Parliament by the Speaker after he switched off Maele’s microphone and demanded that the minister take back his words albeit unsuccessfully.
The UDC spokesperson in Parliament, Dr Phenyo Butale confirmed that they are taking the matter further by engaging the courts. “We view the accusations very seriously and we will not allow Honourable Maele to soil the name of our leader with baseless accusations,” he stressed.
Dr Butale also informed that newspaper that by stretching the boundaries of diatribe to radio stations, “Minister Maele has literally thrown away the immunity of Parliament and we are weighing our legal options.”
Minister Maele took the matter to a private radio station where he argued that: “opposition Members of Parliament always display intolerance in parliament". He was unfazed by legal threats from the UDC. He stretched his accusations and repeated them, “These people never research, they always plagiarize. In Boko's speech (paragraph 9), he plagiarized paragraph 8 of the Land Policy, o e manolotse jaaka e ntse, saying what we are saying. He plagiarized 3 paragraphs," the Minister of Lands and Housing told Duma Fm.
Contacted for comment, Minister Maele said he is ready to fight the UDC in court, “as a Motswana and a Minister of Lands I have rights to express my views and defend the government.” He said if the UDC believes that they have a case against him, they must prove that his views are not correct, “I still stand by my views that they plagiarised, if they are going to court they must do so immediately,” he said.
Maele said no one from the opposition has produced evidence to indicate that his views are not correct. “I am ready to meet them in court, I am not shaken.”
The Land policy of the current government focuses on four key issues, that is, land tenure, access to land and protection of land rights, land management and administration and institutional and legal framework. The policy says that every Motswana be eligible for one plot in the country, that land be repossessed where there is evidence of mismanagement. The policy has also proposed the establishment of land authorities to transform and professionalization of land boards and other land administration authorities. It also advocates for measures to be put in place to access housing without necessarily owning a plot.
Therefore, the primary goal of this Land policy is to protect and promote land rights of all landholders and promote sustainable human settlements and improve land allocation through establishing an up to date land information management system.
In his response to the Budget speech, the UDC leader indicated that his party would significantly accelerate and expand efforts to provide serviced plots at reasonable price, especially for first time property owners.
“In particular, we would propose an additional P700 million to purchase more land and embark on Public Private Partnerships for the servicing of those land-parcels in-order to make more land available for the housing needs of a large number of Batswana. We would simplify process, through legislation, to secure land rights in communal areas,” he stated.
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.