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BOCONGO is bankrupt

BOCONGO board members, affi liates, friends and donours at organisation Biennial conference last year.


The future of the non-governmental organisations’ umbrella body, the Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisation (BOCONGO) looks bleak – the organisation could run out of funds before the end of this year.


As things stand, a number of international donors have pulled out and more are expected to follow suit, WeekendPost can reveal.


A sizable number of BOCONGO staff members lost jobs as a result of lack of funding of projects and programmes within BOCONGO. As a member driven organisation, BOCONGO which was formed in 1995 – to create an enabling environment for NGO’s in Botswana, boasts of more than 100 affiliates.


WeekendPost has established that most funders for the various programmes at BOCONGO have already pulled out. Some of the programmes that are no longer available at the organisation include Local Governance Capacity Development Support Project which was funded by the Institute of Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) – which later expanded throughout Africa.


The programme focused on improving the quality of local governance in Botswana by deepening democratic processes at the local level and as well as improving local government service delivery. IDASA partnered with BOCONGO, Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) in implementing the project. The project contract reached its completion in 2012/13 and was not extended.


Another collapsed BOCONGO project which was funded by the Ministry of Health through the proceeds of the notorious Alcohol levy, known as the Alcohol project was also terminated during 2013/14 financial year. The project was aimed at empowering and educating communities on responsible drinking and the dangers of alcohol abuse across the country. It is not clear why the project was removed from BOCONGO as the national Alcohol levy continues to rake in millions of Pula from alcohol consumers.


However there were earlier reports of unsatisfactory annotations by affiliates of the umbrella body who claimed the project could have been implemented elsewhere and not by the mother body. Botswana Substance Abuse Support Network (BOSASNet) and other NGO’s focused on alcohol abuse were said to have been the rightful beneficiaries of the project and vigorously advocated for the project take over.


WeekendPost could not however establish whether the members were subsequently given the project as a result of the development.


Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) has also thrown in the towel after sponsoring BOCONGO since 2006 to implement a National Budget Analysis project which basically brought Civil Society actors together to analyse and comment on the national budget speech as presented before parliament by the minister of Finance and Development Planning.

Through the programme, CSO’s assessed its responsiveness to the needs of the majority of the people of Botswana – especially the marginalized and vulnerable members of the community. It was funded by African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) which pulled off midway and later FES followed suit in 2011/12.


In combating HIV/AIDS scourge, BOCONGO was also funded by Southern African AIDS Trust (SAT) which has long ceased their two year partnership. The project was aimed at contributing to efforts of mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS in the workplace. The project enhanced the ability of NGO’s and staff to anticipate, minimize and cope with the effects of HIV/AIDS. Like others, the project’s funding was never renewed years back when it ended.


This publication has established that the only project currently running at BOCONGO is the Family Health International (FHI) 360 which partnered with the umbrella body under ‘Maatla – Botswana Civil Society Strengthening Program.’ FHI 360 programs help build the capacity of local civil society organizations to respond to HIV and AIDS in Botswana.

It is understood that previous programs have enhanced the quality of voluntary counseling and testing centers, increased services that prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and improved knowledge of HIV prevention among youth ages 10–17.


According to sources who spoke to the Weekend Post on condition of anonymity, “FHI 360 partnership with BOCONGO is also expected to come to a close before end of the year”.


All the projects and programmes at BOCONGO had and/or have a battalion of employees including Project Coordinators as well as complementing staff members whom if projects collapse – would lose jobs instantly as well. Many have lost jobs at BOCONGO and others are tipped to be cut later this year as well.


The Alcohol Project, for example had a Project Coordinator, 2 Assistant Project coordinators and close to 100 Peer Educators and Counsellors who all lost their jobs following the closure of the project. With the Local Government’s IDASA project, the Coordinator too suffered a job loss following the ceasing of funds for the project.


Information reaching WeekendPost suggests that going forward, the FHI 360 project could also lay off some few staff members left at the organization including Accounts Assistant, and formerly HIV/AIDS project Coordinator and Administration Assistant.

Only skeletal staff is expected to remain, including Executive Secretary and Office Assistant – whose salaries are funded by government through the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs (MLHA). By the time of going to print, BOCONGO Executive Secretary, Bagaisi Mabilo had not responded to Weekend Post email inquiries on the matter.


However MLHA funds are said to be diverted from BOCONGO as previously has been the case to newly established NGO Council. There is a growing division between the two bodies especially with relation to NGO funds as some say NGO Council’s role is virtually a duplicate of BOCONGO.


An immaculate source at BOCONGO confirmed that they have not yet received NGO funds and it is not clear whether they will get funding from government as the money now goes to the NGO Council. “It is still difficult here, we are not sure whether MLHA will still fund us this year and the only funder who has been with us, being FHI 360 is pulling out end of September, go thata (It’s a challenging time)!” a source at BOCONGO offices told this publication.  


BOCONGO may face the fate encountered by many other NGO’s which had to close down as result of donors pulling out, especially after categorization of Botswana as a middle income country.

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