Ntuane will declare business interests, undertake in writing to Khama
There seems to be a strong difference of opinion among the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leadership incumbents and hopefuls, over who can and cannot be eligible to do business with the party.
This hot potato subject came to life following a vow made by Botsalo Ntuane, a candidate for the position of secretary general, that he will not do any business with the BDP once elected to the party’s high position. The party’s elective congress is scheduled for Mmadinare in July.
Ntuane has set tongues wagging with his 22 points BDP reform agenda which is essentially a response to BDP’s longstanding problems. Ntuane’s reform agenda is a careful, strategic and well thought out plan to counter the cancer that is eating away the BDP.
Foremost among his election promises is that once elected, he will not do any business with the party as has been the case with the past holders of the postion who earned the infamous tag name, ‘BDP tenderpreneurs.’ When the reigning party central committee was voted in, many commentators observed that the party had fallen into to hands of money men.
This was not helped by comments attributted to the party Secretary General Mpho Balopi, that: “It was our turn to eat”, a remark that angered many BDP diehards. There was widespread acrimony about the direction which the party would take under such a leadership of personal interests and the party’s dismal perfomance at the 2014 general elections proved the complainants right.
Ntuane’s decision comes in response to a discussion document his campaign team has circulated to party members where he outlines 22 issues which they think should form part of the BDP’s reform agenda if the ruling party is to reverse the gains made by the main opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the last general elections.
The BDP is expected to face stiff competition in the 2019 elections with the opposition confident that the increasingly unpopular BDP which delivered its worst perfomance since its formation, will finally bite the dust and lose power.
In the Team Botsalo Ntuane discussion document, party members are invited to give feedback and other suggestions for inclusion in the document which is Ntuane’s vehicle for the BDP congress. Part of the feedback is that Ntuane should be an ethical and fair Secretary general.
A handler confirmed to this publication that it is for this reason that Ntuane has undertaken to “not to do any business with the BDP but rather facilitate opportunities for other party members, especially the youth and women, who seriously need empowerment.”
A Team Botsalo Ntuane member has confirmed that although it is not a requirement, their candidate will upon election, voluntarily register his business interests with the Secretariat and make and undertaking in writing to the president, that he will not transact business or compete for tenders with other democrats.
It is believed that this move is meant to demonstrate that Ntuane is going into office to serve and help the party and not to enrich himself through its resources. Ntuane is facing competition from a Gaborone based activist, Olebeng Ngwakwena, and his former campaign manager, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, who ditched his principal a few weeks ago.
It was recently reported that the BDP spent multi millions in the last general elections with most of the money going into the pockets of a few selected democrats for providing services and goods. Some democrats have complained that certain officials serving in key positions in the Central Committee lined their pockets during the elections by monopolising party tenders and closing out other party members.
WeekendPost sought the views of the party secretary general, Mpho Balopi, regarding this matter, who said: “Our view is that as long as everything is done in a transparent manner, anybody can benefit from the party’s tenders, irrespective of his position in the party,” he said.
Balopi who won a few tenders from the party, says, “We are Batswana first and we are equally eligible to benefit from the party.” “I cannot be excluded or discriminated on because of my priviledge to have been elected to the party’s leadership positions. If all processes and prcedures have been followed, I think we all have to qualify,” he said.
Former cabinet Minister, Ramadeluka Seretse, who is vying for the Chairmanship of the party, however differs, saying the BDP should as a party in power, align its guiding documents to societal ethics as well as the cardinal principles espoused in various national legislations. However, his contender for the chairmanship, Tebelopele Seretse sits on the fence, on this particular matter.
“I have not been around and I am still learning about what has been happening within the party. But I have obviously heard a lot of things pertaining to that. My view is that such should be open to all BDP members. But transparency and strict measures should be put in place to guard against any form of abuse of office or cases of conflict of interest that may arise,” she said.
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.