Former Legislator, Robert Masitara has launched an unrelenting war on corruption. Lately he has been very active on social media organising likeminded Batswana, especially the youth, to help him tackle the corruption scourge.
This week he launched a scathing attack against cabinet ministers, permanent secretaries, procurement officers and some government officer whom he accused of corruption or knowingly concealing corrupt acts. Lashing out on facebook, Masitara said he “knows what I am talking about, I am coming.”
Masitara also hopes to push his agenda through his bid for the presidency of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Posting on facebook this week, Masitara jumped to the defence of President Dr Lt Gen Ian Khama:
“People accuse the President of condoning corruption. If he did he could have long expelled me from the BDP whilst I was still heading the two Committees of Parliament. I met HE on several occasions and he understands my position on Corruption. The best thing that had happened to this country is to have HE Khama as President,” Masitara wrote.
Masitara pointed out that Khama came at a time of economic downturn and managed to stir Botswana through the difficult times. “I respect all Presidents who led their countries during this testing times including Barack Obama. He introduced Initiatives that none of us ever thought. As a human being he has his owns faults and mistakes. Only God doesn't make mistakes. It is our Children in the future who will appreciate his work of uplifting the living standards of his people.”
The former Gaborone West legislator says Khama knows that oversight need to be strengthened in government including parastarals and agencies and that it is one area Botswana government must put greater attention to.
He says there is need to fight against social ills including corruption, fraud and money Laundering. “I am not surprised that he attends the Anti-corruption seminar conference in the UK. It is the people who claim to be his friends who are destroying his legacy by engaging on acts that flout systems and corrupt the whole system.”
Masitara said Khama spent the past 10 years as President reacting to problems that were not engineered by his administration but past administration.
He is of the view that a corruption court must be introduced immediately; if it is there it must be seen to be doing its job. “We must bring perpetrators of the insidious crime of corruption to book. All those who siphoned monies illegally from Botswana and built homes in South Africa and Europe must bring back those monies. I know what I'm talking about,” he wrote.
According to the former MP, “all those who were awarded tenders erroneously or fraudulently by flouting procedures and regulations and processes must be prosecuted and such funds returned or else we must go after their assets”.
He says all tender committees’ members who ought to have known that such tenders were awarded fraudulently by flouting procedures must be prosecuted and sent to jail. He further says all educational institutions that defrauded government by claiming against dummy students in the past 15 years must return the monies and owners must be prosecuted including employees of the Ministry of Education who ought to have checked the validity of such lists from the private institutions. He says former Ministers implicated must be prosecuted including their permanent secretaries.
“Let them enjoy the tenders whilst they still can, time is coming when they will be prosecuted and sent to prison. Parastarals tenders in past 15 years must be reviewed and those implicated prosecuted and sent to prison including management tender committees for flouting procedures. I am coming,” wrote Masitara.
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.