The Office of the President (OP) has this week appointed with immediate effect former Acting Director of Tribal Administration, also former District Commissioner for North East District Council Loeto Porati as Private Secretary to former President Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Even though Porati has not yet resumed duty, Khama on Thursday said he will write back to OP to say they did not follow the due process of appointing a Private Secretary. “During my time in office, the general procedure has been that, you recommend a name and government as the appointing authority will dully appoint the person if they are available. In the event that the person is still holding public office they will either release them or tell you to recommend another name,” Khama told WeekendPost.
Khama said a Private Secretary is someone very close, someone you discuss personal things with so it cannot be a stranger but someone you trust. “I cannot say I know him (Porati), this is someone I once bumped into whilst I was still in office. What baffles me is why is he being imposed on me, why would the President insist on him, why? People have been telling me that he is being sent to spy on me,” said Khama. Khama said during former Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi’s tenure, they wrote to him to recommend the name of his choice of Private Secretary.
“Even though they rejected the name at least they had the decency to write to me and ask if I do recommend the name,” he said. Khama said this is the general practice which he had held in high esteem during his time in office. Khama was left without a Private Secretary in 2018 when Brigadier George Tlhalerwa decided to resign after government refused to allow him to continue serving on the same salary and package at the end of Khama’s tenure.
After the departure of Tlhalerwa in September 2018, Khama proposed the name of former intelligence chief, Colonel Isaac Kgosi but the then Permanent Secretary to President and Secretary to Cabinet Cater Morupisi refused to appoint him. Khama through his lawyers Toteng and Company, served government with a statutory notice demanding that Kgosi be appointed as his Senior Private Secretary within a reasonable time failing which he will institute review proceedings and seek an order declaring that President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s decision is unreasonable, irrational and unlawful and be set aside.
Government maintained its stance regarding the refusal to employ Kgosi, a move that left Khama without a Private Secretary for almost two years now. In the interim, one Mabedi Letsholo has been executing the duties on acting basis. The former President was quoted in one of the local newspapers when asked about Letsholo saying: “We worked together at the Office of the President and he has been doing so well to save the situation.”
At the time Khama said he badly wanted to continue with Tlhalerwa or his most trusted ally Kgosi because they come a long way and previously worked together. “You just do not pick anybody to be your Private Secretary. It has to be somebody you know and who knows you,” he emphasised. However, approximately two years without a Senior Private Secretary, government has this week appointed with immediate effect Loeto Porati to take the position at former President Khama’s Office. A source who spoke on anonymity said there is a suspicion that Porati is sent by Masisi to monitor Khama’s office and report to his masters.
The appointment taking effect immediately has been made without notice, consultation or any agreement with the former President or his office. The fallout between Khama and his successor President Masisi has profoundly deteriorated to a point where there is a reported continuous harassment of officers who have been working under Khama for many years, the latest being Tiggy Letswapong, Khama’s Executive Secretary, the two have worked together for 22 years.
Letswapong’s contract is coming to an end this month and government has taken a decision not to renew it. Again, Khama’s long-time medical officer who has also worked with him for more than 20 years was relieved of his duties at the former President’s office on Monday. It has not been established where the officer is currently stationed. Khama was also quoted saying, “Officers (are) removed from my office without consultation, without reasons. Why is my Senior Executive Secretary’s contract not being renewed while (the one) for former President Festus Mogae has been renewed”.
Impeccable sources told WeekendPost that all cabinet Ministers and former President Mogae are entitled to the services of Private Secretaries of their own choice and selection. “In this one President Masisi has instructed his PSP Elias Magosi that Khama’s Private Secretary must be appointed by him personally,” said a source close to OP. It is alleged that at the centre of controversy is Khama’s continued charity work which must be put to rest.
“A special team is reported to be working around the clock, to end Khama’s legacy more especially the Presidential Housing Appeal which continues to bring Khama some respect despite government’s continued effort in trying to tarnish his name. Khama continues to receive countless requests to assist charitable projects and activities across the country,” alleged the source.
Following the now dreaded standoff between Masisi and his predecessor, a few weeks back the Masisi led administration withdrew BX vehicle registration number plates, which were alleged to be for use by President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane respectively. Efforts to reach Permanent Secretary to the President Elias Magosi proved futile as his phones rang unanswered.
The government of Botswana has reportedly approved the dream of hosting African Cup of Nations in 2027 with Namibia as co-host, following a proposal to cabinet by Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare.
WeekendSport learns that the organizing committee dreaming to host the tournament is preparing to hand their hefty book to Confederation of African Football (CAF) when bidding stage comes into open. Botswana Football Association (BFA) has, to this date, managed to win the confidence of the government, and all thoughts around the African football prestigious tournament are given serious attention with acceleration of construction of 10 mini stadia across the country, sources have said.
Furthermore, reports in Namibia state that the Botswana government has approached them with a proposal to co -host the 2027 edition of African tournament. “I can confirm that the minister of sport in Botswana has written to our minister but these are still early days and no decision has been made yet,” Audrin Mathe, an executive director in the Ministry of Sport was quoted by Namibia Sun this week. Meanwhile, Rakgare has said: “It is still an internal issues but yes, we are interested in hosting with Namibia.”
All the while, BFA president who also sits in CAF national executive committee is expected to embody a more emotive promise about the ability of African Cup in Botswana and how it can benefit the citizenry and by extension, the Southern region. With Zimbabwe having come out clean about their intentions to bid for 2034 World Cup, there has been a growing feeling that Botswana should try her luck, and therefore Botswana delegation will be hopeful to walk a fine line.
Although, the commercial potential of a Botswana AFCON Cup is a compelling factor in their favour, following the relative uncertainty of many African countries ( due to political instability, extent of corona virus ) and state of insecurity, BFA is minded not make that their thrust of the case. Hence the concentration on providing a home from home for all teams among Botswana’s diverse population and the opportunity to use the proceeds to advance legacy projects around Africa. The feeling on the ground is that the move might be bold, and some association influential players believe that it will be a matter of upgrading Maun stadium, Masunga and Serowe stadium.
An idea is also harbored that another stadium will be built in around Gaborone to boost the existing National Stadium with the Lobatse and Francistown stadia also expected to play pivotal role. All the while, a more than P20 million operational budget is said to be needed to travel the African countries in convincing them that Botswana is more suitable to host with its security and economy very much stable.
Botswana passes the mark when it comes to transportation, accommodation and hotel facilities. The fact that CAF normally want a country that has hosted youth tournaments before enables Botswana to score points in that it has hosted before. The only problem that might mark Botswana down is road infrastructure. BFA will consider roping in an experienced sport person and the high profile of former players like Diphetogo Selolwane is anticipated to appear for the thoughts building around the bid, and his name will be seen as watershed moment.
The southern region, however, might be dealt a devastating blow following the catastrophe that hit Angola when they hosted the 2010 edition. The Togo team was shot by rebels and panic erupted. However, the field is open and the ever shifting sands of CAF internal politics make the race hard to call and feed fears of horse trading and backroom deals.
Public Servants should brace themselves for some changes as the government is in an overdrive mode to overhaul the public sector. The government has also set the tone for the looming changes as it has added the public sector to its looming list of major and sweeping reforms.
This is contained in a savingram from the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Emmah Peloetletse’s office showing how the government intends to “take stock” of all reforms in the public sector through the establishment of an inventory. Peloetletse’s savingram addressed to various ministries and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) reveals that the government is working around the clock to implement some changes in the Public Service.
The savingram reminded Permanent Secretaries of various ministries and DPSM that the public sector reforms unit (PSRU) at the Office of the President is mandated with Coordinating Reforms across the Public Service. “This essentially entails providing the strategic guidance and facilitation in the implementation of reforms across the Public Service. In this endeavour the Unit has in the past with Technical Assistance from European Union developed a template for documenting Reforms in the Public Service and documented ten (10) major reforms across the Public Service,” reads the savingram in part. It added that “The Unit has lately rolled out the Change Management Framework in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient management of change in the Public Service.”
According to the savingram, it has been noted that for a variety of reasons the use of the template for documenting reforms has not been universally used across the Botswana Public Service. It further states that to facilitate the documentation of the reforms it is essential that an inventory of the various reforms across the Public Service (Central Government, Local Government and State Owned Entities) is established.
“By this correspondent we are seeking your assistance in populating the attached template to provide basic information on the various reforms. The PSRU will, through the various Coordination of focal Persons facilitate the full documentation of the reforms once the inventory is established,” the savingram further stated. The copy of the template among others calls on the focal persons to fill out them form under several headings; they include title of reform, start date, reform objectives, reform components, reform components, progress status.
The savingram echoes President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s announcement last year during his state of the nation address that as a nation Botswana has set itself a lofty goal of becoming a high income country by 2036 and has come up with a list of reforms among them digitisation of government infrastructure. He said the path to achieving this goal dictates that, Botswana takes deliberate steps that will transform its institutions; the way Batswana think and the way they act.
“It is with this in mind, that I presented a Reset Agenda in May 2021, with the following priorities: Save Botswana‘s population from COVID-19, by implementing a series of life saving measures that include a successful and timely vaccination programme, Adherence to COVID-19 health protocols remains key and align Botswana Government’s machinery to the Presidential Agenda, to ensure that the national transformation agenda will be embodied in the public service of the day,” said Masisi. He added that, “this will come with significant Government reforms in all public institutions. We need greater agility and responsiveness like never before in the delivery of public services.”
The Presidential COVID-19 Task Force reportedly meddled in the awarding of tenders for COVID-19, a new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has revealed.
The Committee expressed concern that it has noted that there are two centres for covid procurement being the Ministry of Health and the Covid Task team in the Office of the President. The report says the Committee questioned the Accounting Officer on why the COVID 19 task team is usurping the powers of the Ministry of Health by engaging in covid procurement when the Ministry of Health is the one which has the experience and mandate of dealing with the pandemic. The report says clarification was also sought on why direct appointment is the preferred method for covid procurement.
“In her response the Accounting Officer stated that the task team was mainly engaged in the procuring of quarantine facilities and was assisting the Ministry of Health due to the heavy workload brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic,” the report says. The report says the Accounting Officer further stated that direct procurement was used because COVID 19 was treated as an emergency and that procurement was mainly from companies that have been traditionally used by the Ministry of Health.
“This however, is not the case as there has been report of new companies being awarded COVID -19 contracts. The use of direct procurement method should only be used in exceptional cases as it’s a non-competitive method which increases the risk of inflated pricing and close relations with particular suppliers to the detriment of others,” the report says.
It says since most covid procurement fell under emergency, there is need for openness and transparency regarding the procurement. The PAC recommended that in order to ensure transparency and accountability all COVID 19 related procurement should be periodically published in the PPADB website giving full details of the companies receiving procurement contracts and the beneficial owners of the companies.
It says with the passage of time the impact of covid is no longer unexpected so direct awards should gradually be abandoned as the medium and long-term needs of the pandemic can now be predicted. “Judgement should be used even during direct awards to ensure that prices are not higher than the market prices,” the report says.
In a related matter, the report says the Central Medical Stores (CMS) was unable to cater for the required quantities of medical supplies with order fulfilments of about 35% resulting in shortages and insufficient drugs to Athlone Hospital and the surrounding clinics. “In his submission the Accounting Officer had indicated that CMS was unable to supply the exact quantities required by the hospital and surrounding clinics due to the fact that supplies from CMS have to be rationed in order to cover other facilities around the country,” says the report.
The committee expressed concern about the inadequate supply of drugs to government facilities which puts the lives of patients at risk due to non- availability of essential supplies. It recommended that the Ministry identifies and prioritise measures that need to be taken to ensure that there is adequate supply of essential medicines which are needed in the public health system.
Meanwhile the report says the Ministry of Health and Wellness coordinates the operations and functions of some institutions which receive government subventions and secondment of staff from the government. These institutions include 10 NGO’s, two mission Hospitals, three mission clinics and two schools of Nursing.
It says in its endeavour to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of government support to NGOs the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development developed some Policy Guidelines for Financial Support to Non- Governmental Organisations. According to the PAC report, the guidelines were meant to ensure that there is consistency, accountability and transparency in administering public funding to NGOs. However, the Ministry of Health did not comply with the very important guidelines.
“The main areas of non-compliance were the following: (i) There was no Evaluation Committee to vet proposals from NGOs, in some instances NGOs had formed part of the evaluation forum when their requests were being considered,” the report says. It says there was continued funding of NGOs even when they failed to submit narrative and financial progress reports; and (iv) Continued funding of NGOs that failed to submit audited financial statements and management letters as required. The Committee expressed concern at the lapses in the administration of grants by the Ministry despite the large sums of public money awarded to these NGOs.