Long time serving Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Marcus Chimbombi has been dismissed from office, allegedly due to incompetence.
Chimbombi was forced out of office this week and he confirmed his “separation,” with the employer during a brief phone interview on Friday morning.
“It is true that I am no longer working for the Ministry of Agriculture. We had a mutual agreement that we should separate,” Chimbombi explained.
He however denied that he was fired but chose to use the word “separation” to describe how his work of many decades ended at the Ministry of Agriculture.
“In my case I cannot say I was fired or I resigned. It is separation that we agreed on with the employer,” Chimbombi stated.
He says he left the Ministry following a Month long discussion on the matter with his employer. He further stated that his plan is to pursue his other personal businesses.
At the time of interview, Chimbombi was driving back to his home village, Makopong in the Kgalagadi District.
It is alleged that some of the personal businesses he wants to pursue includes politics. He is said to be most likely to contest in the Gantsi North constituency if the ailing Legislator of the said constituency, Christian De Graaf is to step down as alleged. Chimbombi has however refuted the allegations.
“Just like any other Motswana, I vote and I never missed voting during general elections, but it has not occurred to me that I should contest for elections. Politics is not what is in my mind right now. I am far from participating in active politics!” Chimbobi pointed out.
He however could not disclose whether he would turn down an opportunity to contest for election if he was to be approached in future.
Chimbombi was replaced by Boipolelo Khumomatlhare. Other redeployments saw Neil Fitt redeployed as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Communications; John Patshwe appointed to the office of Coordinator, Government Implementation Coordinating Office in the Office of the President; Goitsemang Morekisi transferred to the National Strategy Office as Deputy Director General – Special Assignments (Employment Creation); Dr. Kolaatamo Malefho transferred to the National Strategy Office as Deputy Director General – Projects; Dr. Raphael Dingalo is transferred to the National Assembly as Deputy Clerk; and Ms Rose Sennanyana is transferred to the Ministry of Transport and Communications as Deputy Permanent Secretary, Corporate Services.
During his tenure as the P.S in the Ministry of Agriculture Chimbombi was not sitting on a bed of roses especially where the running of the Botswana Meat Commission was concerned. It was during his tenure that the BMC bosses were said to have milked cattle farmers of Millions of Pula through expenses claims.
The then Directors are said to have dried the BMC coffers for generous fees and allowances and spent the rest of money on business class air tickets, five star hotels and entertainment while holding business meetings in exotic destinations.
With an estimated 13 BMC subsidiaries all over the world, a former BMC Executive and his board including Chimbombi are said to have been literally living in their suitcases and making a lot of money in director’s fees and travel allowances which were paid in foreign currency, British Pounds to be exact.
Before he separated with the employer, Chimbombi was always grilled for his failure to collect the P1 Million debt owed by the Zimbabwean government over the live cattle they bought from BMC five years ago.
In fact in the last Public Accounts Committee, the Attorney General’s office raised a concern that the country risked losing the debt if Zimbabwe was to raise a prescription defence. The prescription Act, according to the Attorney General’s office directs that a debt that has not been collected for as long as three years be written off.
Chimbombi had then said they were being lenient with Zimbabwe as they still wanted to do business with them.
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.