A proposal by leading BCP members requesting for a resolution on joining the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has sown a rift at that party’s ongoing congress. Party leaders have backed the proposal, which calls on congress delegates to resolve on joining opposition coalition UDC in efforts to topple the ruling Botswana Democratic Party in the 2019 general elections.
BCP’s stability and unity will be put to test as the two warring factions vying for the control of the party’s governing organ differ greatly on which direction to pursue with regards to opposition cooperation in particularly.
With President Dumelang Saleshando enjoying the endorsement of both groups, the opposition cooperation issue will be a matter of a team which wins the support of the delegates in the ongoing congress.
The two factions are led by the outgoing party spokesperson Taolo Lucas and outgoing Secretary General Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang who are both vying for the position of Vice Presidency. Lucas, backed by the party youth league is not supportive of the cooperation model that would see BCP become part of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) while Gobotswang’s team with strong backing from Kentse Rammidi want BCP to resolve on joining UDC after the congress.
If Dr Gobotswang’s team wins the support of the delegates in Kanye, BCP may resolve to join UDC, while Lucas team’s victory would result in the party remaining solo as it did in the 2014 general elections. BCP could be faced with the most trying phase of its existence. It is the only party that has maintained unity and stability since its formation in 1999. In the last elections, the party suffered immensely, managing only three seats out of the 29 they had set as their target.
BCP’s dismissal performance has been attributed to the party’s snubbing the UDC, a coalition made up of three opposition parties; Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). UDC managed to win an unprecedented 17 seats in the process, taking the total number of opposition seats to 20.
Rammidi, who will be contesting for the position of Secretary General, has issued an ultimatum to withdraw from the race if the party does not resolve to join UDC during the ongoing party congress. “It will be a difficult task for me to defend the party in the event that the congress has resolved not to join UDC,” he said.
The former BDP Secretary General said the 2014 general elections should serve as a lesson and the situation should not be allowed to transpire again. “A combined opposition could have won 33 constituencies, which is enough to win power under the current electoral system,” he said.
Rammidi who defected to BCP in May 2012, barely a few months after joining BNF from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) was the victim of split votes himself coming third in the parliamentary race for Kanye North, a constituency which he was defending. Rammidi garnered 4030 votes, while Kwenantle Gaseitiswe of UDC got 5654, and the eventually winner, Patrick Ralotsia of BDP was voted by 5726 constituents.
Political analyst Lawrence Ookeditse has however stated that a decision on whether the congress resolves to join UDC or not will result in some being disgruntled. “You will always have individuals whose ambitions and delusions of grandeur make them think they are bigger than the party,” he stated. “Those you have in the BCP post congress will exist and possibly seek sympathy and the danger will however be in party ordinary members who may be discouraged to continue being active in politics as a result of whatever the decision of the congress.”
Ookeditse said BCP is a party which has managed over the years to be able to rally behind the decision of the leadership. “Whatever the congress pronounces will carry the day,” he contended. “BCP should come out with a decision because a vague statement on always wanting to work with others will not do, it will be nothing different from the status quo.”
Former party Vice President and outgoing Secretary General Dr Gobotswang has publicly endorsed Rammidi for the position of Secretary General. Dr Gobotswang also endorsed MP for Selebi Phikwe West and former youth league President Dithapelo Keorapetse for the position of Secretary for Information and Publicity. Other members of Dr Gobotswang’s lobby list include former party parliamentary candidate for Gaborone North Motsei Rapelana (Chairperson), Tshegofatso Raditlhokwa (Deputy Secretary General) and Dennis Alexander (Treasurer).
Meanwhile Lucas lobby list include him as Vice President, Dr Philip Mbulawa (Chairperson), Philip Monowe (Secretary General)Tshegofatso Raditlhokwa (Deputy Secretary General), Dr Ditiro Majadibodu (Publicity Secretary) and Dennis Alexander (Treasurer).
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.