Connect with us
Advertisement

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.

Continue Reading

News

Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

Continue Reading

News

Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

Continue Reading

News

Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!