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Inside the confidential Matsha students accident report

A confidential report on the horrific truck accident that killed seven form 5 students of Matsha College and left over one Hundred others injured last month was presented before the Kweneng District’s full Council meeting this week.

The report which is said to have been destined to the Office of the President suggests that the accident came about as a result of gross negligence of disgruntled Council staff.

“The welfare officers seem demotivated and mostly have a negative attitude towards their work. It is observed that of those who are supposed to provide care to orphans and the needy are sick in spirits, those meant to benefit from them are thus at risk,” reads part of the report’s preliminary investigation findings.

According to the report, when the Council sent a truck to collect Matsha students, a 65-seater Letlhakeng Sub District bus was in good running condition and could have been used to ferry the students, but was instead diverted to pick Moeding College students.

“The department (Social Welfare) indicated that they only had one bus with 65 seats available at the time of making arrangement for the trip to collect students, this is the bus they set aside to transport Moeding College Students contrary to Letlhakeng Sub Council committee resolution. The mini bus was said to have been at the garage for service,” further revealed the report.

Although the truck was carrying at least 118 students at the time of the accident on the 13th November 2015, the students who were supposed to have been inside the truck were the 74 disadvantaged students who are cared for by the Council’s social welfare department. However since the truck driver maintained that he did not have a list of the students that he was to collect and there was no teacher in sight to supervise the boarding, he had to improvise and carry a load of 123 students together with their belongings in a single truck.

“On the 13th November 2015, the driver was by the school premises of Matsha around 9 o’clock to collect the students. When the driver went to collect the students it is unfortunate that he did not have a list or number of the students that he was to collect. The students boarded the truck and there was no teacher around when they boarded. Upon realising that the students who were boarding the truck were many, the driver attempted to call the office to alert them but could not get hold of the caretaker who was responsible for coordinating the trip. But nonetheless, he states that he left a message with some officer that he got hold of to relay to the Caretaker and advise her that another truck was needed,” further narrated the report.

It further indicated that, the driver then decided to drive slowly with a view and hope that he would meet the other truck along the way to carry some of the students and reduce the load because student were “overcrowded and standing.”

“The truck reached Tshwaane still without any relief vehicle on site. The truck delivered about four students in Tshwaane and proceeded to Letlhakeng. Unfortunately two kilometres before Dutlwe the truck had a tyre burst and overturned injuring 111 students and as a result about 7 students died,” the report explained further.

According to the report, the four students who were left at Tshwaane corroborated the driver’s story that it was him and the lorry attendant who supervised the boarding in the absence of teachers.

However the school head teacher’s defence is that the driver and the lorry driver never presented themselves to the school administration that morning.

The investigators found that there is also too much undue pressure exerted on the Council by Schools to collect students the same day that they close schools as if they are being chased away.

“There is no cordial relations that recognise that students are both the school and the Council’s responsibility,” the investigators observed.

Further, it is revealed that there is poor planning or no planning at all, in that the social welfare department did not have a plan nor had they made any arrangement on time on how to collect the students.

“The S and CD (Social welfare) office did not know that their form 5 students were due to close on the 13th November 2015. The S and CD department only reacted to a letter from Gantsi Senior Secondary School on the 12th November 2015 when the students were due to close on the 13 November 2015,” the report further reveals.

In fact the report states that the coordination of the trips for collection of students has been relegated to a junior officer, a caretaker on B scale, whose assessment of risk and problem solving of situations seems wanting.

“Form 5 RADs students trips was not planned for in advance and was coordinated by a very junior officer at B scale who does not have a voice of authority in line with levels of responsibility,” the report suggests.

On the 5th of March 2015, Letlhakeng Sub Committee resolved that Matsha College and Kang Students be collected by bus while other students are given bus fares. However it was found that this resolution was not communicated to all Council staff.

“Decisions of committee and Council are not communicated to all officers. It is noted specifically that there was a decision by Letlhakeng Sub Committee of the 5th March 2015 which resolved that Matsha students be transported by bus while others be given bus fares. This was not implemented at all and everything done ran contrary to this decision because same was not adequately cascaded,” further states the report.

Nonetheless, the same report further contends that difficult terrains in that part of the country informed the use of trucks to collect students from Matsha College. It states that when the current buses were purchased, due attention was not given to the existing terrains and therefore buses not adapted for such difficult terrains were not purchased.

The report recommended that students should be collected by buses from now onwards and that Councils should purchase and convert trucks into trucking buses in order to access difficult terrains.

“Luggage should never be put together with students in the same vehicle where an assessment indicates that it would pose a risk factor,” the report recommended.

At the time of going to print, at least one student was still under intensive care (ICU) at the Princess Marina hospital in Gaborone when two had been flown to the neighbouring South Africa hospital for further intensive medical procedures.

The Ministry of Health stated this week that in all, seven students were still hospitalised. As of this week according to the Ministry, twenty-nine students have been discharged from Princess Marina hospital.

Initially the hospital is said to have admitted thirty-one (31) students and received seven more from Bokamoso and Gaborone private hospitals. The students were admitted with various injuries including bruises, head injuries, laceration, fractures and others. Over the past few weeks, some have been discharged from hospital.

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Bangwato regent speaks ‘respect for Dikgosi’

23rd May 2022
Bangwato

Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.

Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.

Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.

One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution

Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.”  Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.

She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age.  Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.

Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.

Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.

For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.

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Parliament unveils major shake-up plans & reforms

23rd May 2022
Parliament

Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.

The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare.
Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.

According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned.  It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.

“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said.  Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.

The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.

The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.

The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.”  The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana.  It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.

“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.

Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.

“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversification of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly.  It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).

“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.

Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.

“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said.  The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.

The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.

“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

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Salbany, Bareetsi threaten to sue DIS

23rd May 2022
Salbany Bareetsi

Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.

After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.

They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.

“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.

They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”

They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.

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