A Vision 2016 commissioned study sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) is doing ‘very little or nothing to correct its battered image’.
The study however praises transparency, accountability and information sharing by the DISS hierarchy.
The Vision 2016’s new report on household opinion survey was conducted by LOGICA consultancy during the months of July and September 2015 and was published at the end of last month.
It notes that since its formation in 2008, DISS has unearthed and exposed organised crime syndicates threatening national interests. These organised groups are involved in an array of illegal activities such as terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud, human smuggling and trafficking, and official corruption, the study acknowledges.
However, the study continues that “Although the DISS was established for a good reason, the agency’s work is not appreciated by some citizens as they believe that it is not doing what they expect it to do. There is a problem of credibility as some people believe that it was created to spy on them while others believe that its leaders are accountable unto themselves,” reads the study in part.
In addition the study points out that there is a perception that there is no transparency in the way national resources are handled by the agency.
“The role played by the DISS must be clearly defined so that citizens can appreciate its relevance to the modern society. Lessons can be drawn from countries such as the USA where intelligence agencies have been in existence for many years and still have the trust and confidence of the citizens,” reads an extract from the study.
The authors of the Vision 2016 count down study conclude by indicating that a concerted effort must be made to improve the image of the DISS.
“Its achievements must be shared with members of the public. Furthermore the leaders of the urgency must be transparent in terms of how national resources allocated to them are utilised,” says the study.
VISION 2016 SURVEY BLOWS HOT AND COLD
Meanwhile, the same Vision 2016’s report on household opinion survey conducted by LOGICA consultancy has been characterized as not being representative of the citizens’ response to the Vision as a whole.
Stakeholders lambasted the Vision 2016 household survey that had applied among other things a statistical survey method which had 1 777 respondents. The stakeholders lampooned the 1 777 figure of respondents as not being representative of the opinion of the entire populace.
They also shot down the ‘trivial survey’ as it failed to mention the baseline of improvements from the previous period to the current times.
The Vision 2016 household survey has revealed that the majority of respondents across all the administrative districts as well as five cities and towns have heard of the vision. It has also revealed that the vision 2016 meaning has still not effectively trickled down to the far flung countryside areas as only 70.7 percent of Batswana dwelling in the cattle posts and lands have heard of the vision.
The report also states that in the rural villages 80.6% have said they have not heard of the vision, also showing that there are still Batswana in metropolitan areas who still have not heard of vision 2016 despite it being in its last months as a national vision. In terms of Vision 2016’s first pillar on education the survey states that Batswana believe that progress has been made in improving quality as reflected by the number of qualified teachers employed, introduction to technology in schools and a reduction in the teacher pupil ratio has substantially been reduced in public schools.
The report also says that 60 percent of Batswana felt that living conditions such as housing, health, clothing conditions and food consumption have improved. It also says that unemployment is on the decline, still unacceptably high at 19 percent for a country of Botswana’s economic standing while living standards in the lands and cattle post areas have improved marginally with 39.2 percent of respondents reporting improvement in their living standards compared to the last 5 years while Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita has been increasing steadily.
Concerning the pillar of ‘A safe and secure nation’ the report states that in the past female soldiers were not allowed in to the army while in current times they have since been allowed and there has been a 16% reduction rate in serious, violent and intrusive crime while there has also been as an increase in road safety. However it also says that Batswana are dissatisfied with the country’s shoot to kill policy that concerns poaching as it might harm the country’s diplomatic relations with neighbouring states and eventually the safety of its citizens.
It also goes on to mention that 55.7% of the respondents were satisfied with the services provided by health care facilities and that 16.3% of Batswana live below the poverty datum line.
On the pillar of ‘An Open, Democratic and Accountable Nation’ the survey states that about 60 percent of respondents confirmed various international agencies reports that Botswana is one of the best governed and least corrupt countries in Africa.
The report also lists broadcast as the most medium that has the farthest reach in disseminating the Vision 2016 message at 60 percent followed by Broadcast television at 35 percent while private newspapers hover at 10 percent.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.