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Botswana’s food security under threat

National grain reserves hit critical low levels

The country’s food grain reserves are dangerously low and the continued severe weather could trigger a major hunger crisis in the near future unless Botswana Marketing Board (BAMB) works up a better strategy very fast, an audit at the Parastatal organisation, BAMB)  has warned.

So severe is the situation that even the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) is failing to maintain the needed quantity due to the shortage of quantities produced nationwide.

According to the recent audit carried out at the SGR by Messrs Ernst and Young, the national stock holding levels for especially sorghum, maize and beans are not satisfactory and the minimum stock levels are not adhered to by the Board.

The contract between the central government and SGR stipulates that the expected quantities to be maintained should be produced locally, but the Board would not meet such targets because they claim they are not met at national level.

However the Auditors have discovered that there was no written evidence or formal communication between SGR and the Board on reasons for the quantities not having been maintained.

Messrs Ernst and Young who are certified Public Accountants further revealed to the Auditor General that the decline of grain stock problem is in part due to possible incompetence on the part of BAMB.

Information from the Auditor General suggests that the Board has not been giving the SGR enough money to restock. In fact the Auditors discovered that the Board owed SGR over P98 Million accumulated over a number of years. This has actually raised doubts on its recoverability.

The auditors noted when reviewing the records of the SGR, a potential lack of management oversight on the records. For instance, the board could not provide the auditors with documented evidence for invoicing SGR at P18.41 instead of P24.53 for sorghum in the silos.

“It seems the board was not paying mark-up of five percent for rotated stocks and the payments were not made within the stipulated 30 days of the statement in terms of the agreement,” revealed the audit report in part.

Nonetheless, the Board is said to have been reducing the debt to SGR albeit not at a rate that could clear it. According to the Auditors, the Board holds stocks and debtors that could be converted to cash to clear the debt.

With the bumper harvest being expected, BAMB has promised to ensure that the debt to SGR is cleared and stocks levels maintained as per the contract by 2015/16 financial year.

The Auditor General has however recommended that BAMB management review the contents of the agreement and comply with it.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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