In an anticipated turn of events, the Botswana National Front (BNF) Vice President Reverend Dr. Prince Dibeela is challenging the incumbent party President Duma Boko at the coming elective congress scheduled for July.
The congress comes few months after the just ended 2019 General Elections in which the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) failed to win power in the contentious elections. An affiliate of UDC, Botswana National Front (BNF) is the nucleus of the Umbrella party, and has been leading it since its official formation in 2012, and therefore very central in the shape and form of UDC.
Following a humiliating loss at the polls, Dibeela confirmed his intention to challenge Boko in an exclusive interview with WeekendPost this week after keeping a low profile for some time. “I am challenging him, without a doubt,” he asserted to this publication. He would not be drawn into further details citing party regulations. However this comes at a time when UDC leader Boko has previously said in 2019 if the UDC does not perform well at the elections he will resign, the sentiment which he has defaulted on for unclear reasons.
“But if he resigns, that’s fine. It means I will automatically become the President until next elective congress,” Dibeela told this publication last year in preparation for this year’s congress, adding that Boko said so many other things that did not come to pass and therefore he can never trust his word. The former Mmathethe/Molapowabojang BNF of UDC candidate highlighted then that if the BNF leader who also doubles as the UDC President doesn’t resign as promised “I will challenge him and I am sure other people will as well because he has done too much damage.”
The BNF Vice President hinted ahead of last year’s elections, some in the party members threatened to leave the party to form a new party proposed as Social Democratic Party but, “I told them that Boko is a temporary irritant. And so we are not going anywhere. The system will spit him out.” The reverend contended then that BNF could have split long time ago but he protected it because he understood that “even though he (Boko) is like this, he has a massive following especially among people on social media who don’t know what is happening on the ground.”
He added: “I saw a possible split in the BNF if we overthrow him even though so many people making the majority in the Central Committee have long wanted to pass a motion of no confidence on him.” “At that time we were 18 in the Central Committee and those who supported me were 12. And so we had clear majority at the time. So we could have easily won. So that is what we wanted to do but the timing was never right.”
Dibeela continued: “you remember that joke which was said to be the UDC congress held at Fairgrounds, that thing was a mess. They wanted to pass a vote of no confidence on him after that but it was clear his stooges were aware of that and ready to fight and so there was going to be a split, I said to them that I don’t want to be part of that.” The renowned politician-cum-pastor predicted last year that Boko will probably lose his Bonnington North constituency ‘as his character did not resonate well with the constituents and ordinary people.’
“He thinks because of his name as a brand (well established lawyer and Advocate) he will win. But he demeans people and cares less. He is pompous,” he said. In Dibeela’s lobby list, he is deputised by Dr. Patrick Molutsi. The proposed Chairperson is Kagiso Tshekega while Secretary General is Noah Salakae. Nelson Ramaotwana is tipped for the position of Deputy Secretary General; Treasurer is Olebeng Watshipi and Organising is Tona Mooketsi.
A surprising feature is Kago Mokotedi standing in for Publicity. Mokotedi has been a staunch Boko supporter and a member of “fear fokol” cabal who defended Boko through thick and thin and bet their lives with his name. It is unclear when Mokotedi and Boko broke ranks. For Political and Labour is Shawn Ntlhaile and Eitlhopha Mokeresete and Calmon Mogalakwe is running for the International Affairs portfolio of the BNF. For Economic Affairs, Tlamelo Shadikong will stand together with Happy Bashe for Health. The pastor’s lobby list is themed “team restoration; returning the BNF to its revolutionary culture.”
Meanwhile incumbent leader Boko has themed his lobby list “organisational stability and integrity towards 2024 elections.” In the lobby, Micus Chimbombi assists the incumbent; and Dr Molutsi appears as a campaigner for chairpersonship. For Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa has thrown in his name in the ring while Kenneth Segokgo is contesting for the Treasure General of the party. Happy Bashe is contesting for Deputy Secretary General portfolio with Incumbent Publicity Secretary Justin Hunyepa trying to defend his position.
Andrew Motsamai is tipped to be Health Secretary and Victor Phologolo for Labour Secretary. For Organising Secretary and Economic Affairs the lobby will send Tabona Masole and Ontatlhile Selatlho. Motsumi Marobela is vying for Political Education.
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.