The ruling party’s Secretary General, Mpho Balopi and his close associates in the Central Committee have been accused of introducing and applying dirty electoral tricks for the forthcoming National Congress to unsettle, silence and disarm those who wish to stand against their preferred candidates.
But the BDP secretary general has rubbished such thoughts and misguided.
Balopi last week issued two controversial press releases whose authenticity was questioned after the sacked Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Executive Secretary, Sechele Sechele who was a signatory to the other distanced himself from the literature.
WeekendPost has gathered that the National Congress candidates lobby commitees together with their candidates are intending to take up the matter with the party following their assessment of the press releases and ‘hidden intentions’ therein.
The first press release distanced President Lt Gen Ian Khama from supporting any candidate while the other informed the party that members who wished to stand for an elected position in the party at the forthcoming National Congress should inform the Party Secretary General in writing about their intentions by 5PM on June 1,2015’ and that the party primary elections code of conduct will guide all party internal elections including the 2015 BDP national Congress.
The lobby commitees argue that it is the first time in the history of the BDP that the primary elections rules are used in Central Committee Elections. They have gone on to question where the decision, calling it a mockery to the party, was taken and by whom.
They have brought to the fore that the same rules were not used in the previous Women’s Wing and Youth Wing elections.This, they conclude, is a witch-hunt by Balopi and his associates to unsettle, silence and disarm the candidates and purge those they deem offensive.
In defence of his Central Commitee,Balopi said the decisions were taken considering the circumstances and perculiarity of the forthcoming National Congress elections.
“We considered the influx of the candidates in these elections, we considered a series of media interviews granted by candidates which attacked and discredited not only the party but some candidates to some extent, among others,” he said.
Balopi said they did not just wake up the following morning to come up with such reforms, “We also sought guidance on the interpretations of a few constitutional clauses to see how far we can go as the Central Commitee,” he asserted.
Balopi said those who wished to stand for the lections had to go through his office ‘for planning and understanding purposes’. He further highlighted, “we also want to vet those who are not in good standing to avoid unnecessary confusions and this is also to check whether some of those are not the same people who some mebers have compalined about.”
Balopi said he doesn’t know why people hate him so much as he is only doing his job and advancing the interests of the party he has been elected to lead together with others. “I dont own the BDP,no,what we are sayin is that there are various platforms where reforms are discussed and approved not through the media,” he said.
He rubbished reports that he was targeting some progressive politicians like Botsalo Ntuane who is vying for the position he (Balopi) is holding to set up and engineeer a committee of his croonies so that he may rule from the grave. “I am not standing for the elections, and if anyone has got a personal issue against me let them come and I will respond accordingly,” he charged.
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.