Former Gaborone Bonnington South Member of Parliament Botsalo Ntuane, has down played reports that he will be contesting for the Secretary General position at the upcoming Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress billed for July.
Ntuane, who was elected the Chairman of Gaborone region recently, has chosen not to comment on his perceived interest to run for the secretary general position currently held by Mpho Balopi. This publication has established that the former legislator, who was at some point, the Leader of Opposition while he was with the Botswana Movement for Democracy, is studying the situation with keen interest before actively lobbying for support. “For now, I will not comment on it,” he said.
It is expected that a number of heavyweights within the party are being cajoled to contest for various positions with the party chairpersonship having attracted a lot of interest. WeekendPost have been reliably informed that among the people being lobbied to contest for chairmanship is the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and President’s brother, Tshekedi Khama, who is the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism.
Former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Tebelelo Seretse has already made her ambitions for the chairpersonship clear, having started lobbying for support. Seretse contested and lost the chairmanship to Daniel Kwelagobe at the infamous Kanye congress in 2009.
Ntuane, understood not to be under any lobby list for now, has started calling for reforms within the party ahead of the crucial congress. Ntuane wants the party to adopt major reforms to ensure that the party rejuvenates itself in order to stay in power beyond 2019. BDP had its worst performance in the history of its existence winning 37 seats and registering 46.7 percent in popular vote.
In the process opposition garnered a historic 20 seats in parliament, 17 seats belonging to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), a newly formed coalition of opposition parties, while 3 seats were won by Botswana Congress Party (BCP). Ntuane was among the victims, losing his seat to his former colleague, Ndaba Gaolatlhe.
The 2014 general elections also saw BDP losing some its traditional strong holds to UDC, most important constituencies which it never lost in history. BDP surrendered for the first time, Molepolole North, Molepolole South, Ghanzi North and Good Hope-Mabule (formerly Borolong).
It is against this devastating development that Ntuane believes making changes including considering adopting a new electoral system, will help the party. Ntuane is of the view that the current First Past the Post (FPTP) system has been overtaken by time, therefore calling for a hybrid system. Ntuane wants Botswana to adopt an electoral system of a hybrid of proportional representation (PR) with the current first past the post system.
Ntuane who rejoined the BDP in 2012 following his resignation from Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), a party he helped to found, says BDP must look for inspiration within the region. Ntuane contends that countries like Namibia and South Africa have been using the system for some time now. “Every democracy is a work in progress and must be reformed as and when conditions call for such,” he contends.
As the chairperson of Gaborone Region, the most influential region in BDP, Ntuane may use his position to cajole the congress into considering reforms. However, Ntuane says his views, which were recently circulated and published in local media were personal and did not have anything to do with him being Gaborone region chairperson.
“The article I wrote is just a personal contribution to the post electoral period which is awash with debates on various subjects and many commentators; partisan and non-partisan people are busy debating the 2014 elections and what it means for the future of politics and governance in our country,” he told this publication. “I cannot prejudge internal BDP discussions because it is up to democrats to decide what is worthy for debate and what isn’t, but it’s great for a nation to debate issues and we should encourage that.”
Many will recall that ahead of the 2009 Kanye Congress, which eventually led to the party’s split, Ntuane and other stalwarts sympathetic to the Daniel Kwelagobe lobby, called for reforms within the party as well as a constitutional review. Ntuane says he has always supported and called for reforms within the BDP and even before the party split.
There is a view that many conservative BDP members will be averse to such reforms, especially when they seem to favor the opposition at the current moment. With an electoral system like proportional representation in place BDP, would have lost the past election, and therefore leading to a coalition government as neither party won a simple majority.
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.