The circumstances surrounding opposition cooperation continue to play themselves out. While the 2014 general elections may have exposed the dangers of going solo for the opposition, it appears, from the impending election re-runs party preparations that the opposition parties are fine with learning the hard way.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development recently issued a writ of elections for election re-runs in Moshupa West, Ngware and Goodhope Council wards. The nominations were held yesterday for the 31st January, 2015 and all the parties will be participating.
The re-runs have been occasioned by ties in the same wards in the October, 2014 General Elections. In Moshupa West, the tie was between Botswana Congress Party and Botswana Democratic Party and in the other two wards namely Ngware and Goodhope the tie was between Umbrella for Democratic Change and the BDP.
Interestingly, the opposition parties appear to be singing from different hymnbooks, once again. The different views they held over the modalities of cooperation prior to 2014 general elections are and will still be evident in the impending re-runs to be held end of this month. The UDC wanted the BCP to come under the Umbrella while the BCP advocated for a pact type of model.
The Botswana Congress Party which has been heavily criticised for shunning opposition unity prior to the 2014 elections has maintained that it stands by its well known principle of supporting other opposition parties where it feels that its chances are minimal.
Speaking over the impending elections, the BCP spokesperson, Taolo Lucas says the BCP leadership has consulted with its cadres in the affected areas and have taken a deliberate decision to contest Moshupa West Ward and not contest Goodhope and Ngware Wards in support of the UDC.
“We shall therefore encourage our members to support the UDC in those two wards. Our decision is informed by 1) our desire to maximize chances of opposition victory in the contested areas 2) our assessment of realistic chances of winning, given that the same voters roll as was used in October 2014 will obtain and 3) to promote the spirit of cooperation that was demonstrated by the opposition in Parliament, Kgatleng Distict Council, South East District Council and Central District in the aftermath of the General Elections,” he said.
The UDC however says it will not be compromising and will contest all the wards, even those that they feel they were numerically disadvantaged. The Botswana National front Secretary General, Ferdinand Kgosikoma said they will not be cooperating with anyone because no such cooperation agreement exists between the two parties.
“We have not met and we do not have such an agreement with the BCP or anyone else, so we will be contesting all the three wards. We however do not oppose anyone’s support to anyone who may deem it necessary and helpful,” said Kgosikoma. Political commentators argue that the opposition antics are a clear testimony that opposition unity is nothing but a pie in the sky. The BDP, they add, might as well emerge the victor in all the contested wards at the bye elections, due to their (opposition) political bickering.
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.