Ntuane admits UDC inclusive of BCP may take power in 2019
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane has warned that indecisiveness by the party in moving towards political and electoral reforms will effectively hand over power to combined opposition parties in 2019.
With reforms having been pivotal to political discussion in BDP recently, there is a group of influential BDP members who are opposed to some of the reforms as proposed by Ntuane.
However, Ntuane has exclusively revealed that, BDP has reached a point where it has a decision to make in order to save itself from being defeated by the opposition parties in 2019. “We need to review the current electoral system because if we leave as it is, UDC and BCP will move ahead and form a coalition which will remove BDP from power,” contended Ntuane.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) have both committed to start cooperation talks in near future in an effort to dethrone BDP from power. Ntuane has observed that, if it was not the current electoral system (First Past the Post) the opposition parties would not have any incentive to cooperate.
The former Gaborone West South (now Gaborone Bonnington South) lawmaker is hoping that once the reforms are adopted by the party, BCP will back down on its plan to cooperate with UDC since there would be no vote splitting between the parties and any coalition will be determined by election results. PR as compared to FPT award seats to political parties based on popular vote rather than seats won.
In last year’s general elections BDP gained 47 percent, UDC 30 percent and BCP 20 percent, while the three parties garnered 37, 17 and 3 seats respectively. 12 of the 37 constituencies won by BDP came as a result of split votes, something which signals that BDP no longer have enough strongholds, therefore making BDP vulnerable to defeat by a combined opposition.
Ntuane is of the view that in the event that the elections result in a hung parliament, a situation where neither party has won majority, BDP would have an advantage of approaching BCP to form a coalition government.
Ntuane admits that BDP is certainly losing its grip as far as popular vote is concerned. The BDP SG noted that while some are worried that PR system will lend a hand to opposition parties, FPTP is worse since it will predetermine BDP’s fate as a result of opposition cooperation prior to the 2019 general elections.
There are fears that despite delegates at Mmadinare Congress sanctioning the exercise of exploring the feasibility of political and electoral reforms, some within the BDP have grown paranoid about the idea and would do everything to prevent them from seeing the light of the day.
Ntuane, who is prepared to get his way with the reforms, has called on everybody to critically analyze the situation that the party find itself in because clearly the party is in danger. Ntuane is of the view that those who oppose reforms should underscore the fact that the status quo has resulted in 47 percent popular vote, something which he said it’s an indication that the party has to reform.
Reached for comment on Ntuane’s ambitious plan, BCP spokesperson, Dithapelo Keorapetse laughed off the idea, and noted that it is not viable under the current scenario. “We do not share a vision with the BDP and we will never form a coalition government with them,” he said affirmatively. Keorapetse said the verity that BCP is working with UDC, with the possibility of joining is a precursor that it is the only party they can work with.
Keorapetse also expressed doubts on whether the proposed reforms could be adopted by the BDP owing to the fact that the same party rejected some of the initiatives some years ago. “I do not even think it is possible for BDP to adopt such reforms under President [Ian] Khama,” he said. “The BDP secretary general is a lone boy in these reforms."
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.