Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri will work with Botsalo Ntuane after the former was appointed chairperson of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Political Education Committee (PEEC) this week.
Ntuane is the new secretary general of the ruling party. The two wrestled each other for the same position at the just ended BDP congress in Mmadinare.
President Lt Gen Ian Khama, through powers vested in him by the BDP constitution, brought back two former secretary generals in Mpho Balopi, the immediate past; and Thato Kwerepe, as appointed members of the central committee. Though Kwerepe represents the North West region, his institutional memory of the BDP office will still be tapped into.
But Balopi is expected to be very critical as an immediate past secretary general.
Though Ntuane finds himself sandwiched, some say this could be a plus for him as the party tries to establish a winning formula ahead of the 2019 general elections. But the main act in this matrix, Matlhabaphiri is expected to resuscitate the party’s ailing structures across the country.
Those who pushed for Matlhabaphiri’s failed bid to be voted secretary general sold his grassroots mastery of politics, they pointed to the known facts that he was instrumental in setting BDP choirs across the country, and that he has been there before, he knows where to find people who can make the party structures effective again. At some stage some proposed that Ntuane should pull out and deputise Matlhabaphiri, but at the time Ntuane was miles ahead in his campaign.
The naming of Matlhabaphiri as chairman of the PEEC committee is instructive that Ntuane will not have the office all to himself. He will be forced to only act on consensus decisions of the central committee. It is evident also that Ntuane’s campaign team members have not been included in the sub-committees.
Therefore, the reform agenda was a campaign gimmick and could have remained in Mmadinare. Matlhabaphiri takes over from Mephato Reatile whose tenure was not very fruitful for the BDP, and it is understood that he preferred that a different party member be assigned the portfolio this time around.
As the chairperson of the BDP’s political education and election committee, Reatile was a political kingpin within the ruling party. His most colourful moment was when he ensured victory for Ngaka Ngaka in a Takatokwane bye-election.
Thapelo Fish Pabalinga has been returned to the Publicity and International Relations Committee this time as its chairman. He takes over from Minister of Justice Defence and Security, Shaw Kgathi who is now the deputy secretary general.
Pabalinga, the Managing Director of Leapfrog has first-hand experience on issues of publicity and branding, though some may doubt his political grasp of the rural BDP, he may be what the doctor ordered to ensure that the BDP remains relevant to the young professionals and youth voters.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi will chair the party’s Labour Committee. This is a very critical committee in todays’ politics because it is playing an advisory role between the party and labour unions.
It is expected to hit the ground running as the party and by extension government may find itself dousing fires that would come as a result to the proposed amendment of the Trade Dispute Bill. Venson-Moitoi is seen a conciliatory candidate for the post and may be acceptable to most unions.
Meanwhile Matlhabaphiri is expected to complement both Ntuane and chairman, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Ntuane a well-respected administrator may find Matlhabaphiri helpful when it comes to spearheading the structures campaign.
Though the two politicians came head to head in the campaign for the position of secretary general, they have been political friends for most of the course. But pundits are adamant that Ntuane’s 22 points reform agenda will not find room under the current climate, because he is more of a loner on that note.
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.