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P1 billion is unaccounted for at MoESD


Financial affairs of the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) are giving auditors a headache and an audit attempt by the Auditor General to validate the balances of the accounts controlling the payment of allowances to government sponsored students in tertiary institutes in Botswana had proven futile.

In the process it had become evident that these payments which were made through the agency of a local commercial bank were not monitored by periodic and regular reconciliations of the accounts to ensure that the monthly cash disbursements to the bank for this purpose were properly and comprehensively accounted for. As a result the status of the year-ending balances appearing in the Annual statements of Accounts could not be explained or clarified.

Due to the weaknesses and shortcomings in the MoESD management of these affairs, the Auditor General (AG) have not been able to satisfy himself regarding the debits totalling over P1 billion, that is, P1 077 543 072 in the advance account used for the disbursement to the commercial bank. In his latest report on the government Accounts, the AG could not even tell whether or not it truly represented the amounts payable to students in the year under review and that it had all been accounted for accordingly.

“In view of the foregoing, I am concerned that despite the matter having been raised in the previous reports and at the level of PAC, the large sums of money at the disposal of the Ministry for the payment of students allowances are still not given the attention that the situation demands. As suggested last year, urgent steps need to be taken to bring matters under proper control,” the AG explained.

Still under the students allowances account, the AG could not make out whether the year-end balance totalling over P74 Million in the same advance account represented the current undisbursed amounts due to students and yet to be accounted for or is just a cumulative balance which could not be attributed to identifiable beneficiaries.

The auditors also failed to understand the credit balance of P44 588 470 under the deposit suspense account controlling the disbursement to students as it was not clear that it was consistent with the true status of the transactions.

The MoESD further demonstrated management failure in terms of salary payment of its teachers. An audit examination in a test check basis of salary and allowances paid to teachers during the last financial year, revealed instances in almost all cases sampled of rampant overpayments of these benefits totalling over P4 Million, the AG has also revealed.

From sample selected, according to the AG, the overpayments were calculated to a total of P4 177 065, “implying that the actual figure is substantially much more than this. Ideally one would have liked to have given a definite figure on the overpayments but this was not possible because of time constraint and the enormity of numbers of teachers involved.

Teachers who were mostly overpaid were on long-term training. Instead of getting a half salary after a year of training, they were given full salaries, some continued to be paid training allowances after completion or termination of training and those who were not resident on campus were paid both off campus and living allowances.

The AG has therefore called on the Ministry to strengthen its administrative procedures to ensure that its financial affairs are in order.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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