Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO) has recommended that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) be removed from Office of the president and be directly accountable to parliament.
Currently DCEC is directly accountable to the Office of the President.
A pronouncement by President Lt. Gen. Ian Khama in 2012 led to the transfer of both DCEC and Directorate of Intelligence Security Services (DISS) from the ambit of Minister of Defence, Justice and Security to the auspices of Office of the President under blurred circumstances.
“We should continue to debate that independence of directorates of corruption should be accountable to Parliament and not Ministries of Justice,” BOCONGO Executive Director Bagaisi Mabilo pointed out this week during a corruption workshop on “Civil Society’s role in combating corruption across commonwealth Africa.”
According to the umbrella body of NGO’s when the DCEC reports directly to parliament, they would provide for an environment of vigorous monitoring through independent reviews.
Meanwhile, BOCONGO stated that the reality that we must also acknowledge is that given all of the institutional, operational/administrative and governance issues, Botswana continues to experience levels of corruption big and small.
“While recognizing the significant efforts of the Government of Botswana to diversify Corruption Prevention through DCEC, reporting administrative inefficiencies through Ombudsman, and project monitoring through NSO, we must acknowledge and embrace our situation where we have increasing number of corruption reports, and a general lack of understanding and organized community role and action against corruption.”
Furthermore the BOCONGO Executive Secretary highlighted that even though the world wide ranking of the government’s ability to provide sound policies and regulations and Botswana is commended for having an exemplary policy framework and good policies, they are concerned as civil society that implementation of these policies falls short of their expectations as Batswana.
She added that: “and to site these without pin pointing the actual case studies we have delays in implementing law changes, we have on paper good policies that look like they could work and in practice are implemented in counterproductive manner.”
She said Botswana has a project oriented Monitoring & Evaluation approach to development projects adding that there was limited periodic documented ministerial monitoring information published and placed in the public domain, and this in turn led to challenges with updated data availability to enable them to populate performance indicators and inform policy.
In addition she pointed out that there was no Freedom of Information Act that allows for ease of access to information leading to a limited access to public sector, Civil Society Organisations and private sector institutional strategies to mainstream corruption prevention.
Mabilo also noted that, most critically they have a civil society in Botswana that does not have adequate resources and expertise to play its primary role in Corruption Prevention.
“We have a CSO that does not have the capacity to review and contribute to the UNCAC National Reports due to lack of capacity in this area; and we do not have a CSO that is producing shadow reports on the UNCAC,” she decried.
She further bemoaned that that the country lacked a civil society that has fully appreciated the SADC Protocol Against Corruption (SPAC) nor tracking government performance on implementation of SPAC.
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.