100-bed treatment center in Liberia 60 ambulances, 100 motorcycles… 480 medical staff from the PLA US$ 6 m donation to UN Ebola Response
The Ebola epidemic has now become the most severe public health crisis to the international community in modern history, which not only threatens the lives and health of people in the epidemic-afflicted countries, but also poses a practical threat to world peace and stability.
In assisting Africa in the fight against Ebola, on October 24 in 2014, when meeting President Kikwete of Tanzania, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the forth round of assistance measures totaling 500 million RMB on behalf of the Chinese government, which includes:
A 100-bed treatment center in Liberia, which will be managed and operated by the elite squad of the People's Liberation Army of China (PLA) who has the experience of fighting SARS. The center, which will be the only treatment center in the three epidemic-stricken countries up to now that is constructed, staffed and operated by a foreign country is expected to be put into use within 30 days;
480 medical staff from the PLA will be dispatched to Liberia in three batches, each consisting 160 people, to treat local Ebola patients;
60 ambulances, 100 motorcycles, 10,000 health-care kits, 150,000 personal protection equipment and other materials such as hospital beds, pick-up trucks, and incinerators, etc.
6 million US$ cash donation to the UN Ebola Response Multi-partner Trust Fund;
Public health experts consultancy teams and more public health personnel will be sent to help with and participate in epidemic prevention and control.
As a matter of fact, China had already sent three batches of emergency assistance to Western African countries to fight Ebola in April, August and September worth of around 250 million RMB in total. Up to now, China's total assistance to Africa has reached 750 million RMB, covering 13 African countries as well as international and regional organizations such as the UN, the WHO and the AU.
There are nearly 200 medical staff in the region at present and with the addition of the fourth batch of assistance, the experts and medical staff sent by China to the region will surpass 700.
China took the lead of assisting the epidemic-stricken countries in their fight against the Ebola disease when the international community had not paid enough attention, and escalated its assistance as situation requires. And, as long as the Ebola epidemic is not eradicated in West Africa, China's assistance will not stop.
All these demonstrates that China is a responsible big power and the nature of China-Africa relations featuring "the sharing of weal and woe". It has also reflected China's concept on China-Africa cooperation featuring "sincerity, real results, affinity, and trust-worthiness" through its real action.
Currently, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is far from being under control and poses a real threat to the people of the epidemic stricken countries and the whole world. Thus, the fight against Ebola is not only the responsibility of those epidemic-hit countries, but also an obligation of the whole international community.
China strongly urges the international community, the developed countries in particular, to take urgent measures, to enhance communication and coordination, and to support the leading and coordinating role of the UN and the WHO to make the assistance more effective and targeted with greater synergy so that we can win the final victory in the joint fight against Ebola.
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.