Party will not participate in National Vision activities
The long time main opposition party Botswana National Front (BNF) has resolved to shun the country’s long term Vision 2016 and its activities.
Vision 2016 which is also known as the national development vision was established in 1996 by a Presidential Task Group – following thorough nationwide consultations.
However, BNF reiterated its position at the party conference held at Good-hope Senior Secondary School over the president’s holidays that they will still not be associated with it going forward. “One of the resolutions we took is, we reiterated the position of the party not to participate in Vision 2016 activities,” party spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa told the Weekend Post in an interview.
This publication has gathered that the need for the creation of a national vision was precipitated by the need for Botswana to intentionally define and manage its path to ‘Prosperity for All’, as well as how it adjusts to the rapidly changing global economy and social order.
According to Mohwasa the resolution was reached precisely because as a party they believe Vision 2016 is just a scam and BDP propaganda to shift people’s attention from real matters, while they (BDP) know it’s not attainable.
A Vision 2016 Council was put in place to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Vision and ensure stakeholder participation in its implementation by the Private, Public and Civil Society sectors; and as well as to advise accordingly.
“We honestly believe the vision is just a scam to make Batswana concentrate on it when they know that Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) won’t solve problems faced by Batswana. Let’s take the pillar of ‘an informed and educated nation’; people still don’t have access to education. They also aspire for full employment but still there are no jobs.”
The BNF Publicity Secretary also stated that the Vision belongs to the BDP and not necessarily Batswana at large. He said the vision was in the BDP 2004 manifesto and therefore was entirely for the BDP.
“We are not here to promote the policies of BDP. They are hypocrites. They say this and do the opposite. In fact they have failed to come up with policies that promote pillars of the vision,” the BNF mouthpiece highlighted.
Vision 2016 compresses the aspirations of Batswana into seven pillars that serve as a guiding framework for national development programmes and policies. The pillars include: an educated and informed nation; an open, democratic and accountable nation; a moral and tolerant nation; a united and proud nation; a safe and secure nation; a prosperous, productive and innovative nation; and a compassionate, just and caring nation. The pillars are also guided by the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s).
Mohwasa insisted to Weekend Post that Vision 2016 was only conceived following BNF’s launch of its Social Democratic Program as well as subsequent to the party’s historic performance in the 1994 elections. “BNF was gaining ground against BDP and they came up with Vision 2016, and as you know BDP performed badly also in the recent 2014 elections and we hear they are coming up with another Vision to brainwash Batswana.”
The BNF was founded in 1965 and it first took part in country elections in 1969 and has been the main opposition since then. The party achieved its greatest electoral success in the 1994 elections, when it won 37.1% of the vote and 13 of 40 parliamentary seats.
Although BNF is now party to newly formed Umbrella for Democratic Change, the decision was taken without other parties that make up the UDC, being Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) who undertook their congresses concurrently during the long weekend.
Party also resolved to review primary elections
In addition to shunning the Vision, the party took a resolution to set up a taskforce to look at the primary elections regulations. It is understood that there will be some consultations with structures for a way forward as members believe it could be done in a better way.
This comes at the backdrop of overwhelming protestations of primary election results that were said to be marred with irregularities in the build up to the 2014 General Elections.
“As a growing party, we need to, time and again, look at how we do things for the improvement of the party,” Mohwasa pointed out.
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.