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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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No end in sight for Nam, Botswana borderline feud

27th July 2021
Namibian-report

Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.

Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.

“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.

Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.

The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.

The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River.  They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).

His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.

The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.

Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.

37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far

Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.

“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.

It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.

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Masisi gives KBL the “middle finger”

27th July 2021
President Masisi

Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.

This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.

In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.

“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.

Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.

Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”

Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.

He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”

According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.

Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.

“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.

He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.

Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.

“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.

He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”

Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.

However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.

In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.

“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.

Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.

“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.

Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.

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Gov’t gives parallel statements on COVAX

27th July 2021
COVAX---lelatisitswe

In  an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.

The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.

“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.

According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.

“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more  money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.

Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.

“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.

“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.

COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.

Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).

On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.

Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.

President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.

“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.

On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.

In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.

Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.

Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.

As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.

This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.

The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.

As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.

“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.

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