A recent survey by the Afrobarometer has revealed that Batswana disapprove of the nomination of Councilors by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
According to the survey, slightly more than five in ten, (51%) of Batswana, show dissatisfaction with the system of nominated councilors. This week Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Slumber Tsogwane was expected to nominate around 119 councilors nationwide, most of whom are Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) rejects of the just ended general elections.
The data of the survey was released prior to the recent nomination of the councilors. The nominations are expected to be subject of debate in the ongoing 11th Parliament which promises to produce heated debates between the opposition and the ruling party.
Parliament dominated by BDP MP’s has also moved swiftly this week to notice statutory instrument to increase the number of nominated councilors. The move is seen by observers as attempting to neutralise opposition controlled councils nationwide. Already opposition controls Gaborone City Council, Kgatleng District Council, South East District Council and Jwaneng Town Council.
Francistown South MP Wynter Mmolotsi was yesterday expected to table a motion calling for abolishment of the system of nominated councilors citing reasons that it is abused by the incumbent government – to prop-up their numbers at councils especially those that are controlled by the opposition parties.
Meanwhile the Afrobarometer survey states that, “the main criticism has been its lack of clear criteria and also for bringing back the losers against the wishes of the electorates. Some members of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) have also voiced concerns that the system tends to reward friends of the ministers even those coming outside the constituency, and they see this as abuse of the system and undermining their value in the party.”
“The system has always been a contentious issue with opposition political parties including some senior members of the ruling party,” survey further posits.
BDP rewards loyalists Already in the list the names of Mephato Reatile who lost Jwaneng-Mabule constituency to Shawn Ntlaile of the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Sylviah Muzilla who was defeated by Wynter Mmolotsi of UDC at Francistown South and Mpho Moruakgomo who was also defeated in the Mochudi East constituency by UDC’s Isaac Davids among others – have all made their way to council chambers through the minister’s nomination process.
Other BDP members who lost in the BDP primary elections last year such as Greg Losibe who lost to Jonny Sawrtz in Ghanzi North, are also said to be in the list. In addition BDP Publicity Committee Secretary Macdonald Peloetletse, Kagiso Ntime who joined the party after disapproving umbrella model of opposition parties and Andy Boatile who face stiff competition in the coming National Youth Executive Committee have also been nominated for Council.
Key Findings The survey found out that 53% of urban residents do not agree with the current system of specially nominated councilors whilst 45% say the system should be retained.
It states that there are no major differences between those in rural areas and semi-urban areas. 55% of those in rural areas do not support the system against 40% who agree with it.
It also revealed that “age plays an important role as slightly more than half (53%) of the elderly, those who are 65 and above think the system should be retained against 36% who do not support it.
There are mixed reactions regarding those who are 50 and below. 55% of the youth (18-29) are against the system whilst 40% are for it. Men, the survey says are more assertive about rejection of the system as 55% say so, compared to 50% of women who equally reject special nomination by the Minister.
The Afro barometer survey also highlighted that the system is most disliked by those close to the opposition political parties, as 65% either agree or agree strongly that the system should be abolished whilst 33% support its retention.
“Within those identifying with the ruling party, one in five (50%) believe the system works well whilst 44% say it should be done away with. This is not surprising to find that the system finds favour within the ruling party as it is used to reward its activists.”
Afrobarometer is an African-led, non-partisan research project that has measured countries’ social, political, and economic atmosphere since 1999.
Afrobarometer is funded by the UK Department of International Development (DFID), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and World Bank. In its sixth survey round (2014-15), it is covering 35 countries. In Botswana, the face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults were done by Star Awards (Pty) Ltd.
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.