Former Botswana Defense Force (BDF) Commander Tebogo Masire has indicated that he hates politics and has no intention of standing for political office.
Masire became active in politics at the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) following his retirement in 2012 after being Commander ever since 2006.
Weekend Post this week established that a cluster of BDP foot soldiers at Masire’s home village, Kanye are covertly lobbying for him to stand for the 2019 General Elections at Kanye South.
In fact, it’s not the first time the activists have lobbied him, prior to the 2014 General Elections, less than 2 years into his retirement they approached him but he turned the offer down on grounds that he was “not ready to contest”.
“You will recall that he was influenced in 2014 but refused to stand on grounds that he was not prepared as he had just retired,” a BDP source in the area told this publication on Thursday.
“The problem was that he was not familiar with the constituency so he needed time to sell himself before the electorates,” the source further explained.
In 2014, Kanye South pitted Dr. Lemogang Kwape and the youthful Thato Baruti in the BDP primary election with soft spoken Kwape emerging victorious although he was later to be humiliated by the combative Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s Abram Kesupile who triumphed at the General Elections.
According to the BDP activist in the area probabilities are that Kanye South may be split in the BDP’s bid to expand the number of constituencies. He said a motion is expected to pass swiftly before next parliament session, and Masire may contest in one of the constituencies that will be riven at Kanye South.
Sparking debate that he may be enticing potential electorates, and through his THC (initials for his names Tebogo Horatious Carter) foundation, the 4th commander was spotted last year December at Moshaneng village during Christmas hosting orphans and old age destitutes, an event he confirmed to this publication.
At Moshaneng, he donated hampers, sweets, goodies, drinks and chocolates to more than 70 needy kids and provided 40 old aged folks with groceries which included sugar, bread flour, tea packs, sorghum meal and washing powder among others proving that he may be spending the rest of his life in community service as he says he enjoys making a difference to other people’s lives.
Some in the party believe that the Motebejana born is already positioning himself and gearing up for the upcoming elections.
On the contrary, Masire, who is a cousin to former president Sir Ketumile Masire, told Weekend Post this week in an interview that he detests the idea of running for political elections.
“I hate political elections, I hate running for public office,” he said before declaring that he is and remains a BDP activist – although he will not run for office.
According to Masire, who came after Matshwenyego Fisher, Ian Khama and Mompati Merafhe at the barracks, all who later joined active politics save for Fisher, he is “disturbed by the current trend of politics as it’s not appealing at all” hence his stance not to stand.
“The current trend of politics doesn’t excite me, it is not something I will get into,” he declared to this publication.
He has been seen in recent BDP events with his wife Orefitlhetse who holds the position of treasurer in the BDP Women’s Wing as they both grew in the party.
While still Commander at BDF, Masire irked some opposition politicians after uttering what they regarded as political insinuations in 2011 during the notorious public servants strike which prompted a joint statement from the then opposition leaders.
At that time, in 2010, his contract had just been extended by President Khama for another 2 years under controversial circumstances. He was to retire that year (2010) as he had reached the mandatory retirement age of 55.
According to the joint statement, penned by the then leader of opposition, representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Botsalo Ntuane, Botswana Congress Party (BCP)’s Dumelang Saleshando and Botswana National Front (BNF)’s Isaac Mabiletsa, Masire had crossed the line into partisanship while still holding public office.
“An examination of the remarks in question clearly demonstrates that by attacking opposition politicians and falsely accusing them of inciting BDF officers to stage a mutiny during the recent public sector strike, General Masire deliberately crossed the line into active partisan politics,” they stated.
The trio continued to point out that they do not recall any instance in the history of this country when a BDF Commander has ever assumed such a partisan political posture in favour of the ruling party.
“In conclusion, we challenge General Masire to retract his words and tender an apology to opposition politicians. Should he fail to do so, we extend an invitation to him to resign his post, discard the uniform which he wears with such great honour, and join active politics; his new found passion. We can assure a civilian Masire that we will be ready for him at the freedom squares,” the trio had said back then.
However, fresh information suggests that the retired Masire will not be contesting for any political position in the foreseeable future.
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.