At least one hundred cheques are reportedly missing from the account books of the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) and are yet to be accounted for, the union has confirmed.
The cheques whose amount has not been made public are said to have mysteriously disappeared during the reign of the former leader of the Union, Andrew Motsamai of the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU).
BOFEPUSU’s Treasurer General, Moses Monnatsie told a press conference this week that the Standard Chartered Bank’s serialised cheque book numbered in the order of 100-600 cheques has its serialised bank cheques starting from 200-300 missing. He also revealed that BOFEPUSU has requested Standard Chartered bank to assist in furnishing it with information regarding the missing cheques.
However a leaked copy of the final comments of the Auditor’s which this publication is in possession of suggests that the said missing cheques were not used.
“It was observed that the cheque books from the banks were not in serial number order. Cheques for years 2010 to 2015 ranges from 100-600. Of this 200-300 is not used,” the copy reads in part.
The leaked report further reveals that many cheque payment vouchers were not signed and authorised.
BOFEPUSU’s Treasurer General, Monnatsie did collaborate the revelation during the press conference when he said, “voucher payments whose movement cannot be traced because they might have not been signed for or authorised or have simply been siphoned also tainted the complexion of the audit.”
In addition to the missing cheques BOFEPUSU is said to have been characterised by three years of “management grounded in poor accounting principles’ from the years 2010 to 2012.
Monnatsie further said that the labour federation’s audited books from the years 2010 right through to 2012, a period the current BOPEU President Andrew Motsamai wheeled command of BOFEPUSU secretariat, have all been declared ‘not in good standing’.
Monnatsie also suggested that the lack of financial instruments used in institutional management such as a well demarcated budget as well as a finance policy further contributed to the audit, carried out by a local Audit firm rendering Motsamai’s leadership as “not in good standing”.
He further revealed that the financial audit of the said years declared, ‘not in good standing’ earned the categorisation because it has been found that there had been an improper management of ‘petty cash’ compounded by the unavailability of its summaries.
He however said that the financial audit for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015 after the departure of Motsamai from the BOFEPUSU secretariat, have all been declared to be ‘in good standing’.
Nonetheless, a leaked audit report titled “Audit of the annual financial statements for the years 2011-2015” dated 06 November 2015 by a local Auditing company runs contrary to the BOFEPUSU version of audit.
The report pokes holes into BOFEPUSU’s version of events, collectivising the pitfalls of its treasury without apportioning blame along the lines of regimes.
The report states that, “our year-end audit procedure revealed that the status of the accounting records were good. However during the course of audit we noted certain matters.”
Contrary to the BOFEPUSU timeline of events the audit states that,” it is observed that proper petty cash summary were not available from April 2015 onwards.”
The same audit that revealed that the alleged missing one hundred cheques were not used observed that, “there were other receipts amounting to P101 9000 during the year.
Confirmation is needed that these are donations for specific purposes and they are not a part of subscription advances.”
Also parallel to the account of BOFEPUSU the audit says, “it was observed that budgets were not available for the period under audit and for the subsequent period.”
The Auditors further recommended that BOFEPUSU provide them with, “reconciliation of the number of unions from 2010 to 2015 and the number of members for the said period”, so as to balance the numbers.
The audit added that, “it was observed that the title deed of the (BOFEPUSU) building was in the name of UNIGEM.”It continues to say that, “it is advised that BOFEPUSU should have a bond over the plot as the title deed is not vested in its name.”
Asked to comment Monnatsie could neither deny nor confirm if the leaked audit report is an authentic BOFEPUSU audit only saying, “I know the information you are talking about but I do not know if it is our audit report because I did not give it to you.”
Monnatsie said that when procuring its building BOFEPUSU channelled its UNIGEM dividends into buying BOFEPUSU house and when they could not raise the whole amount UNIGEM supplemented the figure hence the title deed being under the name of UNIGEM. He continued that if BOFEPUSU is to take the building under its name it has to buy out UNIGEM. He also countered that contrary to the leaked audit BOFEPUSU has its own budget policy. He said that no company runs without a budget, more so that “we have employees”.
BOFEPUSU General Secretary Tobokani Rari also said that the financial audit has been presented before the federation’s National Governing Council (NGC) in its Palapye retreat the past weekend.
The BOFEPUSU National Governing Council (NGC) comprises of BOFEPUSU executive council as well as the top 4 union czars of all BOFEPUSU affiliated trade unions. He also said that the NGC which is the federation’s second highest decision making body has reaffirmed the ideal of lending support to political parties that hold an attractive outlook for the livelihoods of the workers.
He continued that contrary to media reports, all BOFEPUSU affiliates remain members in good standing-contributing and playing part in all its activities except for BOPEU which the NGC officially accepted its disaffiliation late last year.
Meanwhile BOPEU’s President, Andrew Motsamai said that he has not yet seen the BOFEPUSU audit and therefore could not respond directly to it. He said that it would be nicer and courteous of BOFEPUSU to avail the audit report to them as they once were contributors to the federation.
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.