Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane
An Assistant District Commissioner in the Central District has filed a chilling letter detailing what she describes as ‘maladministration’ in the Central District at the District Commissioner’s office. The letter is currently making life very uncomfortable in the office of the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane.
“Firstly there are several issues which I am alive to which border on maladministration that I have stood against, which without doubt contributed to this transfer; therefore transferring me is a desperate attempt to silence me. This maladministration practices will be elaborated at a later stage,” writes Mphoyaone Seokamo, an Assistant District Commissioner based in Palapye.
After stating her case against a forced transfer, Seokamo goes on to elaborate on a number of instances where she was instructed to make unprocedural payments and refused. “I was requested by my supervisor (names withheld) to write a letter to Supplies Office to request for direct appointment of a company (name withheld) to clear the District Commissioner’s official residence contrary to financial instruction. I did not accede to the instruction as I was not comfortable with being involved in malpractices and this did not sit well with my boss,” she wrote.
Despite Seokamo’s defiance, on the 25th September 2014, a gentleman who identified himself as coming from the company that was directly appointed by Seokamo’s boss came to drop a quotation at the instruction of the DC indicating that he carried out some work.
Seokamo and the Supplies office refused to authorise any payment to the company. On the 26th September 2014 the said Supervisor drafted a sample letter and instructed Seokamo to type it and sign it, but she refused to the displeasure of the DC.
She in fact avoided signing the letter for a whole month until the boss took the initiative to sign after the company threatened to ‘spill the beans’ on the deal. The Assistant District Commissioner was made to sign the GPO (Government Purchase Order) despite being warned by colleagues and payment was effected to the company.
At a later date Seokamo’s Supervisor once again requested the office to seek a quotation for an alarm to be installed at her residence. She was however informed by the Supplies Office that there is no provision for installation of alarms for the DC, “We even requested the ADC to inquire with the Ministry before making any decision. According to ADC her supervisor indicated that she will pay for herself. I notified them that we are still going to have a serious audit query concerning for the relocation of the DC residence and advised them that other senior officials had installed alarms without the involvement of the office but the Assistant District Commissioner insisted that we do as the Supervisor requested and gave the Supplies office a go ahead. After installation we were forced to prepare a GPO to pay for the alarm, exactly what I anticipated would happen. I was not comfortable singing the GPO and this again did not sit well with my boss. However the GPO was signed by another officer and I signed the payment at the instruction of my boss,” wrote Seokamo.
According to Seokamo, her supervisor once forced them to buy her office furniture from Mandarin Furniture shop without evaluating quotations. “We went to Gaborone with her to choose the furniture and three of us were sleeping in a hotel for three days sourcing quotations. Despite the fact that we sourced quotations, direct procurement was made at the insistence of my Supervisor which is contrary to supplies and financial regulations. The DC also instructed supplies office to buy her bulbs (16) from KEBO Electrical Gaborone for her house.”
In another startling allegation Seokamo states in the letter that her Supervisor is supposed to pay monthly house rentals amounting to P1800 but she is paying P800 for the house, “an investigation can be instituted to validate this information,” she wrote.
On the 16-17th April 2014 she booked accommodation at Mondior Hotel claiming to have a meeting with the permanent secretary of Local Government, to our dismay we discovered that the permanent secretary was not in Gaborone then, instead she had no meeting with the permanent secretary yet she used government funds. “An investigation can be instituted to validate this information,” she stresses in her letter.
“It is worth noting that my boss is not leading by example as she comes late to work around 10 am, she spends most of her time outside the office doing her own things, sometimes she does not come to work completely and usually no one in the office knows her whereabouts. She only comes to the office when there is a pressing issue that needs to be attended to or when she knows His Excellency the President is touring the District…” states Seokamo.
The detailed letter by Seokamo to the Minister also details reasons why she should not be transferred. Furthermore she alleges nepotism in the office, she states that junior officers have been promoted to positions they do not qualify for. According to Seokamo the education and health of her child has been overlooked when her forced transfer was plotted, “the transfer is not justified, they just want to silence me because I speak out against maladministration,” she wrote.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane confirmed receiving the letter but will not discuss its contents. The concerned supervisor refused to discuss the matter with WeekendPost indicating that government general orders do not allow her to talk to the press.
She had initially granted this publication a response through which she categorically denied most of the allegations made against her. She had indicated that at the time she arrived in the central district the concerned officer was already transferred, hence her allegations against her are only an attempt to divert attention from her pending transfer.
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.