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Bathoen II Trust: The devil is in the detail

Bangwaketse Kgosikgolo Malope

Bathoen II Dam Nature Sanctuary Management Trust (BDNSMT) which is entrusted with the Bangwaketse tribe resources, principally those accumulated during the reign of the late Kgosikgolo Bathoen Gaseitsiwe II is caught up in financial misappropriations scandals.

A legend, Kgosi Bathoen II ruled Bangwaketse from 1928 to 1960 – a period in which he amassed the prosperity in cahoots with his community (morafe).

The trust was founded subsequent to Bathoeng’s departure in 1990, almost 10 years later– in 2001. He had before then, accumulated resources for his morafe, including Mmakgodumo dam, ranch stretching in spans of land, and Kanye Central Business District (CBD) among several others including recently acquired Kanye Brigade Development Trust and its subsidiary Secondary School.

Accounts of the trust are tampered with

A look into the books of the Trust accounts and operations as captured in the classified audit report, a copy of which has been leaked to Weekend Post, reveals there are 8 bank accounts under the Trust that were fiddled with.
Account name
Account Number
Lesedi Electrical
57160025759
KBDT (Kanye Brigade Development Trust) 1
57160008755
Thuso Block yard
57160008185
KBDT 2
62069330076
BDNSMT (call)
62066921282
BDNSMT (fixed)
71273779061
BDNSMT (Current Admin)
62332290874
BDNSMT (current  secondary)
62332296062
Mmakgodumo Cultural Festival
1097729

According to the records, currently only 4 accounts (in bold in the table above) are active with available balances. Nonetheless “there are no documents to verify whether the rest were closed or are in use except that funds were transferred from those accounts on the 17/11/2011 to current active accounts”.  

The report which was prepared by the Southern District Council, states that some financial transactions have been noted between such accounts and mostly with “no requisitions or supporting documents to verify the use of funds,” the confidential report highlights.    

The other 9th account appears to be linked to the trust but under a team of individuals undersigned as Mmakgodumo Cultural Festival Committee.

The audit report states that there was a deposit of P201, 202.85 followed by another deposit of P80, 000.00 deposited into the BDNSMT (current secondary) account no 62332296062 on the 3rd December 2013. However, “there are no indication of sources and, these funds were deposited into an account that is used for (secondary) school funds hence the ‘assumption’ that the funds are somehow related to school administration.”

The audit report has therefore recommended that all inactive accounts; Lesedi Electrical, KBDT 1, Thuso Block yard and KBDT 2 should be closed and financial practices should be followed at all times to ensure informed and transparent transactions. The report also emphasized that adequate financial reports should be produced every quarter for Morafe’s briefing at the kgotla.

Bangwaketse relegated on Trust’s Agreements with third parties

According to information gathered during the audit process, the Trust has gotten into agreements with third parties which involved financial transactions. “The community was never consulted as required by Clause 11.5 (of the Deed of Trust) regarding some of these agreements. And there are no recorded Board Resolutions for such. For example, the car raffle and Mmakgodumo Heritage and Cultural Festival”

According to records availed, one gentleman (name withheld) has an outstanding agreement he made with Kanye Brigade Development Trust (KBDT) before its “takeover” by The Trust. The agreement shows that he was to develop plots 34, 35 and 38 at an agreed amount of P600 000.00 and the records show that part payment was made with a Cheque, for the sum of P200 000.00 on the 13th April 2011, that was three months before the takeover of KBDT by Trust.

The takeover meant that The Trust also took over the agreement yet there is no record that the trust ever discussed this issue after it took over KBDT.  There is no trace showing into which account this lump sum was deposited.

All bank accounts linked to KBDT were handed over to the Trust and “none of them had a balance of more than P200 000.00” indicating the development funds as deposited by the man known to this publication.

The auditors have therefore advised that the Trust board should consult with all relevant stakeholders before making resolutions on any proposal brought before the board. It was also suggested in the report that all resolutions should be clearly recorded and filed for future references.

Mmakgodumo Cultural Festival lacks financial accountability

The Audit has uncovered that there was an amount of P30, 000.00 which was given to the Chairperson of Makgodumo Cultural Festival to conduct a Cultural Day event as per minutes dated 05/07/2014. The records show that the above mentioned funds were a grant from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture to Bathoen Trust.

It is notable that the cultural day committee also received funding and donations from individuals and organizations e.g (National Food Technology research Centre (NFTRC) pledged the sum of P1000.00 as per letter dated 2nd September 2014 but no other information from donors  was availed.

“There was no report or source documentation showing how the funds were utilized or disbursed. As a result it has been difficult to Audit to ascertain how the funds more especially the P30, 000.00 was utilized,” report points out.

Still with the Festival, the report posits that during an interview with the Secretary of Trust she mentioned that more than 400 letterheads have been given to the festival committee Chairperson so as to write to companies and individuals seeking financial assistance.

A recommendation was made that the Trust needs to account to the donor, the Government of Botswana on how the grant of P30, 000.00 was used and a consolidated report on the festival be availed.

“There were no records showing the accountability of issuing those letterheads. There is no proper record on who have been written to or who responded. The Trust is not able to account for all these letterheads,” it states.

A car ruffle omit financial specifics

According to Board minutes submitted for auditing, The Trust had an agreement with a certain lecturer at the brigade to facilitate a car raffle to raise money on behalf of the Trust.

Although tickets were sold country-wide the raffle never took place and some of the tickets are not yet accounted for. The trust does not have any records with regards to all the logistics of the aforesaid raffle. Only the said lecturer has records although not sufficient enough.

“The Trust is not able to confirm whether all those who bought tickets have been refunded and whether all those who were selling have accounted for all the tickets they were given,” the audit states.

A recommendation was therefore made that the Trust also needs to account for all the tickets that were produced for selling and collect those not sold. “A consolidation report must be availed for public consumption.”

Auction sales payments done by Trust board members

The audit report findings indicate that there were two auction sales conducted in the year 2012.

“For the first auction sale only receipts of payments have been availed for auditing and what is strange is that most payments were made by members of the Trust Board. Corporate governance principles do not allow for board members of organizations to participate in auction sales to ensure transparency and fairness of the auction.”

The report says the auction sale that was held on the 2nd November 2012 has proper files. Most of the items which were listed for auction have been accounted for including the disc harrow which was not sold through the auctioned but was later sold in 2013 at a value of P4,000.00 less than the reserve price of P6,000.00. “There is no documentation which shows why it was not sold through the auction which is the principle,” the report continues.

It further suggested that “the trust should produce consolidated detailed reports for all the auction sales conducted since January 2011 to December 2014.”

Trust has no Salary structure, Human Resources policy

The report further suggested that corporate governance policies be developed and implemented (Finance, HR, Procurement, Tender and Auction policies) along with a clear and justifiable resolution on sitting allowances which it stated was needed.

Sometimes Meetings are held with no quorum

According to the audit report meeting schedules are rarely adhered to. According to the Deed of Trust, board meetings are to be held quarterly, this means that full board meetings should be held 4 times per year while 6 executive meetings should be held per year.

Sitting allowances have to be paid for scheduled meetings; “however it was noted that in 2011 in a period of two months from the 7/9/2011 to 28/10/2011 five meetings were held and a total amount of P9, 569.00 was paid as sitting allowance for six members.”

The report further discovered that in 2013 a whooping P 40,866.00 was used to pay sitting allowances for board members during meetings which sometimes did not form a quorum. “For instance on the 25/02/2013 the sum of P1, 911.00 was paid as sitting allowance for meeting of three members,” the audit has un-earthed.

Furthermore, according to the audit report, the Board resolved to claim sitting allowances similar to those claimed by Adjudication; Trade and Licensing Committees of the Local Government, yet employees in the Trust are paid differently.

It highlights that on several occasions members of the board claim even for external meetings which are not in any way related to issues of the Trust.

The report also states that board members claim for un-scheduled meetings and there are no records justifying whether such meetings were emergency meetings or not.

Trust Receipt books manipulated

Moreover Weekend Post has gathered that during the inspection of receipt books, auditors came across two identical receipt books no 1801 – 2100 both with identical inputs. “It appears that information was copied from one receipt book to the other. The original receipts were removed from other receipt book and stapled to the latter to make it look like they originate in that receipt book.”

The audit clearly states that the receipts do not belong there due to the fact that the handwritings, although belonging to one person, the signatures in receipt no 1801 and 1802 original and copy are not identical. A signature mistake is also found on duplicate receipt number 1801 and 1802 of the older book. It is not identical to the original receipt stapled on top of it.

“Receipts no 2056 – 2058, 2065 – 2067, 2083 – 2085, 2095 – 2097 are not stapled in the older book. No clarification has been availed regarding the abnormality.”

There is no inventory of assets both movable and immoveable

It was recommended that the trust must keep an updated inventory of assets at all time.

No Rental register of Trust assets

Audit has discovered that there are properties that generate income under the custody of Trust, Residential houses (On and Off-Campus), Tirisanyo Shops, Auto workshop and Farm.

“Therefore, due to unavailability of a rent register, audit has not been able to compile and assess all rentals. This information would have helped to analyze the detailed cash flow of the trust and thus make relevant recommendations.”

Trust Patron, Kgosikgolo Malope II defends it (the Trust)

When reached for comment recently, Kgosi Malope told WeekendPost that the controversial issues pertaining to the Bathoen Trust was discussed prior at one of his lebatla (meetings) at the kgotla kgolo in Kanye and a consensus and/or compromise was reached but he denied to divulge it to this publication.

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Details emerge in suspected Batswana poachers in Namibia

28th June 2022
suspected Motswana poacher arrested

New details about a suspected Motswana poacher arrested in Namibian and his accomplice who is on the run were revealed when the suspect appeared in court this week.

The Motswana Citizen who was shot and wounded by Namibia’s anti poaching unit is facing criminal charges under criminal case number (CR NO 10/06/2022) which was registered at the Divundu Police Station in the Mukwe constituency of the Kavango East Region on 10 June 2022.

It is alleged that a patrol team laid an ambush after discovering a giraffe’s fresh carcass in a snare wire and hanging biltong.  According to the Charge Sheet, the suspect Djeke Dihutu, aged 40 years, is charged with contravening and transgressions of Nature Conservation Ordinance andcontravening Immigration Act 07 in Mahango Wildlife Core Area, Bwabwata National Park. Dihutu’s first court appearance was on the 17th of June 2022, Rundu and it was postponed to the 07 July 2022. He is currently hospitalized in hospital under Police Guards.

Commenting on this latest development, the Namibian Lives Matter Movement National Chairperson Sinvula Mudabeti applauded the Namibian Anti Poaching Unit for its compliance with what it called the universal instrument on the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/169.

“We are aware that the duties of the police carry a great deal of risk, but our police has shown that they have a moral calling and obligation to protect even foreigners suspected of serious crimes on Namibian soil,” said Mudabeti.

According to him, whereas the Botswana Police Service, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS) have “very low moral ethics, integrity, accountability and honesty, the Namibian security agencies has shown very high levels of ethical leadership in the discharge of their duties even under duress.”

He said Namibian’s anti poaching unit has exercised one very important value, that is, the use of force only when it is reasonable and necessary. Mudabeti said this is in harmony with international best practices as enshrined in Article 2 of the UN instrument on law enforcement conduct, “In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.

Our police have protected the life of a Botswana poacher and accorded him dignity, which is very foreign to our Botswana counterparts,” he said. He said article 3 of the same instrument above, calls for Law enforcement officials to use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.

“This provision emphasizes that the use of force by law enforcement officials should be exceptional; while it implies that law enforcement officials may be authorized to use force as is reasonably necessary under the circumstances for the prevention of crime or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of suspected offenders, no force going beyond that was used by our Police,” he said.

Furthermore, Mudabeti said, whereas the universally accepted norm of the law of proportionality ordinarily permits the use of force by law enforcement, it is to be understood that such principles of proportionality in no case should be interpreted to authorize the use of force which is disproportionate to the legitimate objective to be achieved.

“Our police have used force proportional to the situation at hand. Great work indeed! Article 6 urges law enforcement officials to ensure the full protection of the health of persons in their custody and, in particular, shall take immediate action to secure medical attention whenever required,” he said.

Mudabeti said the Botswana poacher was immediately taken to hospital whereas the Nchindo brothers who were captured on Namibian soil, beaten, tortured and executed while pleading to be taken to the hospital we left to die.

“The Namibian Doctor gave evidence in court that Sinvula Munyeme’s lungs showed signs of life (during the autopsy) and that he could have survived if he was accorded immediate medical assistance in time but was left to die while BDF soldiers looked and possibly ignored his cry for help,” he said.

Mudabeti said unlike in Botswana where there are no clear separation of powers between the BDF, Botswana Police Service, Department of Intelligence and their Directorate of Public Prosecutions,” we have a system that allows for checks and balances and allows our people and foreigners who are found on the wrong side of the law to be accorded the right to a fair trial.”

He said Botswana citizens are treated with dignity when apprehended in Namibia and not assaulted, tortured and executed. “We are a civilized country that respects international law in dealing with non-Namibian criminals. The Namibian Police have not mistreated the Botswana poacher but have given him the benefit of the doubt by allowing due processes of the law to be followed,” he said.

He added that, “We are a peace loving nation that has not repaid Botswana by the evil that Botswana has done to Namibia by killing more than 37 innocent and unarmed Namibians by the trigger happy BDF.” He concluded that, “Our acts of mercy in arresting Botswana citizens should never be mistaken for cowardice.”

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Gov’t, Unions clash over accommodation

28th June 2022
accomodation

The government has reportedly taken a decision to terminate provision of pool housing and subsidy for civil servants as it attempts to trim the public service wage bill.

This emerges in a dispute that is currently before the Labour Office headquarters lodged by unions representing thousands of civil servants across the country. This publication understands that the decision to cease providing pool housing and rental subsidy for public officers is part of proposals that government put on the table during its negotiations with public service unions in order for it to adjust salaries.

A letter from Labour Office addressed to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) shows that the directorate is cited as the First Respondent. The letter is titled, “Dispute lodged: Cessation of provision of pool housing and subsidy for pubic officers.”

“This serves as a notification and requirement to a mediation hearing,” the letter informed DPSM. According to the letter, the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Unions (BOSETU) Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) and Botswana Land Board &Local Authorities &Health workers Union (BLLAHW) who lodged the complaint are cited as the Applicant.

“Please come for mediation hearing. The hearing will be conducted by Mr Lebang. The hearing is scheduled for date/time 29th June 2022, 09: 00HOURS at Block 8 District Labour Office, Gaborone. Please bring all relevant documents,” reads the letter in part.

According to a document described as a proposal paper on the negotiations on salaries and other conditions of employment of public officers by the employer (government), the government did not only propose to stop providing accommodation to civil servants but also put a number of proposals on the table.

The proposal papers states that the negotiations (which have since been concluded) cover three government financial years; 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25. The government proposed an across the board salary adjustments as follows; 3% for the financial year 2022/23 effective 1st April 2022, across the board salary adjustment of 3.5% for the financial year 2023/24 effective 1st April 2023 subject to performance of the economy and across the board salary adjustment of 4% for the financial year 2024/25 effective 1st April 2024 subject to performance of the economy.

The government also proposed phasing out of retention and attractive (Scarce Skills) Allowance with a view to migration towards clean pay, renegotiate and set new timelines for all outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement, executed by the employer and trade unions on the 27th August 2019, to ensure proper sequencing, alignment and proper implementation.
The government also proposed to freeze public service recruitment for the 2022/23 financial year and withdraw the financial equivalence of P500 million attached to vacancies from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).

Another proposal included phasing out of commuted overtime allowance and payment of overtime in accordance with the law and review human resource policies during the financial year 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The government argued that its proposals were premised on affordability and sustainability adding that it was important to underscore that the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers was taking place at a time when there were uncertainties both in the global and domestic economies.

“Furthermore there is need to ensure that any collective labour agreement that is concluded does not breach the fiscal deficit target of 4% of GDP,” the proposal paper stated. The proposal paper further indicated that beyond salary adjustments, the Government of Botswana is of the view that a more comprehensive consideration “must be taken on the issue of remuneration in the public service by embracing principles such as total rewards compensation which involves taking a fully comprehensive and holistic approach to how our organization compensates employees for the work.”

The proposal paper also noted that, “Clearly, the increase in salaries and changes to other conditions of service which have monetary consequences will further increase the proportion of the budget taken by salaries, allowances and other monetary based conditions of services.”

“The consequential effect would be a reduction of the portion that can be used for other recurrent budget needs (e.g. maintenance of assets, consumable supplies such as medicines and books) and for development projects,” the proposal states.

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BPF NEC probes Serowe squabbles

28th June 2022
BPF

Opposition Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) National Executive Committee will in no time investigate charges party members worked with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) membership to tip the scales in favour of the latter for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship in exchange for deputy seat in a dramatic 11th hour gentleman’s deal, leaving the ruling party splinter under the political microscope.

In a spectacular Sub-council election membership last Thursday, the ruling BDP’s Lesedi Phuthego beat Atamelang Thaga with 14 votes to 12 for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship coveted seat and subsequently the ruling party’s councilor Bernard Kenosi withdrew his candidacy in the final hour for the equally admired deputy chair paving the way for Solomon Dikgang of BPF, seen as long sealed ‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’ gentleman’s agreement between the contenders.

Both parties entered the race with a tie of votes torn between 12 councillors each, translating for election race that will go down to the wire definitely. But that will not be the case as two BPF councilors shifted their allegiance to the ruling party during the first race for Chairmanship held in a secret ballot and no sooner was the election concluded then the ruling party answered back by withdrawing its candidacy for the deputy chair position to give BPF’s Dikgang the post on a silver platter unopposed.

BPF councilor Vuyo Notha confirmed the incident in an interview on Wednesday, insisting the party NEC was determined to “investigate the matter soon”. “During the race for the Chairmanship, two more BPF voted for alongside the ruling party membership. It was clear Dikgang voted alongside the BDP as immediately after the vote for Chairmanship was concluded, Kenosi withdraw his candidacy to render Dikgang unopposed as a payback,” Notha added.

As for the other vote, Makolo ward councilor will not be drawn for the identity preferring instead to say: “BPF NEC will convene all the councilors to investigate the matter soon and we will take from there.” Notha will also not be drawn to conclude may be the culprit councilors could have defected to the ruling party silently.

“If they are no longer part of us they should say so and a by-election be called,” was all he could say. As it stands now, the law forbids sitting Councilors and Parliamentarians from crossing the floor to another party as to do so will immediately invite for a new election as dictated by the law. Incumbent politicians will therefore dare not venture for the unknown with a by-election that could definitely cost their political life and certainly their full benefits.

Notha could also not be dragged to link the culprit councilors actions to BPF Serowe region Chairperson Tebo Thokweng who has silently defected to the ruling party and currently employed by the party businessman and former candidate for Serowe West Moemedi Dijeng as PRO for the highly anticipated cattle abattoir project in Serowe.

“As for Thokweng he has not resigned from the party but from the region’s chairmanship,” he said. WeekendPost investigations suggest Thokweng is the secret snipper behind the recruitment drive of the votes for the elections and is determined to tear the party dominance in Serowe and the neighbouring villages asunder including in Palapye going forward.

This publication’s investigations also show BPF’s Radisele and UDC’s Mokgware/Mogome councilors are under the radar of investigations for the votes-themselves associated with the workings and operations of Thokweng.

“NEC will definitely leave no stone unturned with their investigations to get into the bottom of the matter. Disciplinary actions will follow certainly,” Notha concluded, underscoring the need to toe the party line to set a good precedent. For the youthful councilor, the actions of his peers has set a wrong precedent which has to be dealt with seriously to deter future culprits.

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