Connect with us

2014: A Youthful Year

Jeff Ramsay

As we approach the Holiday Season it is both natural and customary for the newspapers to be full of reflections of the year that was, often accompanied by further reminders of some of the prominent people who will be missed having passed on to a hopefully better world.
Judging from the output seen so far there seems to be something of an ongoing consensus among the scribes that 2014 was an especially turbulent and unsettling year.
Some have gone further. From his “Linguist Chair” Thapelo Otlogetswe who this author would generally consider to be a positive guy, as well as positive example of an engaged intellectual, has stated: “I will look back as a dark year. It was a bad, bad year in all sorts of ways.”
Much of the evidence provided by the Professor for his dismal conclusion, starting with his citation of the national trauma caused by the untimely death of Gomolemo Motswaledi, will find general agreement. The past year has had its full share of doom and gloom instances and circumstance.
The number of young people this author encounters almost daily who are frustrated in their efforts to get ahead is, in particular, a constant reminder that we are living in what are challenging times.
And yet, this is not new. The story of Botswana has always been about overcoming challenges. Constant examples of this include, among others, our semi-arid environment, ever evolving society, uneven development and difficult neighbourhood.
Looking back by most measures 1966 can truly be described as having been a dark year. Already rated as one of the ten if not five least developed jurisdictions on earth, with an annual per capita income then amounting to less than one hundred rand, the year of Botswana’s restored sovereignty further coincided with severe drought and an upsurge of cross border military incursions. RraGaone has not been exaggerating in his recollection that outsiders thought that he and his colleagues were either ‘very brave or very foolish’ in bringing Mmamosadinyana’s overrule to an abrupt end.
Yet 1966 might be described as mild when compared to some of its predecessors, such as the entire mid-nineteenth century when the arrival of the ‘black and red ants’, i.e. Makololo, Matebele and Maburu, brought death and destruction to the entire region.
Anyone looking for the worst of times might also settle for the ecological disaster that was 1896, when severe drought was accompanied by rinderpest, which killed some 80% of the territory’s livestock and uncounted herds of hoofed wildlife. As people then struggled to avoid starvation, influenza kicked in reducing the population of some communities by up to a third in a few months. In this context the arrival of biblical swarms of locusts in the same year was actually seen as a blessing as they became a primary source of sustenance.
Few historians thus ever speak of the ‘good old days.’ Society as a whole, however, tends to best remember what was best in the past, while often wallowing in what is worst in the present. As this year closes let us rather consider our blessings as well as losses.
Whatever our politics we can all celebrate the fact that this year’s election was another big victory for our democracy. On the Election Day itself the mudslinging and fear mongering of the campaign once again gave way lines of citizens peacefully and freely exercising their right and responsibility to determine both the Government of the day and its elected opposition. This included an unprecedented number of first time voters.
Another highlight of 2014 was of course Gaborone’s successful hosting of the Africa Youth Games, accompanied by the good performance of our own athletes within it.
It was the beginning of a year of sporting achievement at both junior and senior level. While Nigel Amos and Isaac Makwala were the biggest stars, as was once more demonstrated by Team Botswana medal haul (32) at last week’s AUSC Region 5 Games, they are in increasingly good local company.
The growing success of our young athletes is part of the bigger story of a flowering of creativity and talent among many of our youth in general. In the arts and academia, among budding entrepreneurs and entertainers there were countless additional stories of achievement that did not always find their way in the headlines.
Where else can one find such examples? Like so much else the dynamism of our youth is, at its best and worst, being shared online.
Not without cause it has become fashionable to criticise social media as platforms for insulting and anti-social behaviour. In cyberspace one can certainly find a lot of rudeness and worse among the young and not so young alike.
But the ability to share images and ideas online is also an emerging catalyst for positive networking of all sorts. In this respect dare I say another good news story of 2014 was the significant expansion of domestic online activity as more and more Batswana joined in domestic and global conversations?
Achievement? Frustration? Either way 2014 was a year in which the youth set the agenda

Continue Reading


Economic Resurgence Options: Is Export-Led Growth Tenable For Botswana?

22nd September 2020

The world in which we live is a criminally unequal one. In his iconic 1945 allegorical novella,  Animal Farm, a satire on the facetiousness  of the then Soviet Empire’s crackbrained experiment with a command economy, the legendary George Orwell in my view hit the nail squarely on the head when he said all animals were equal but some animals were more equal than others.

That’s the never-ending dichotomy of the so-called First World and its polar opposite, the so-called Third World as Orwell’s cleverly-couched diatribe applies as much to the tread-of-the-mill laissez faire economics of our day as it did to Marxist-Leninist Russia a generation back.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

Continue Reading


Victory is Won

22nd September 2020

Israelites take Canaan under General Joshua

Even as the Nation of Israeli braced to militarily take possession of the Promised Land, General, its top three senior citizens, namely Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, were not destined to share in this god-conferred bequest. All three died before the lottery was won.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!


Continue Reading


Finance Bills: What are they about?

22nd September 2020

Financial Reporting (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and Accountants (Amendment) Bill, 2020 were expeditiously passed by parliament on Thursday.

What are these two Bills really about?  The Bills are essentially about professional values that are applicable to auditors and accountants in their practice. The Bills seeks to basically enhance existing laws to ensure more uprightness, fairness, professional proficiency, due care, expertise and or professional technical standards.

The Financial Reporting Act, 2010 (FRA) establishes the Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA), as the country’s independent regulator of the accounting and auditing profession. BAOA is responsible for the oversight and registration of audit firms and certified auditors of public interest entities.

In the same vein, there is the Accountants Act, 2010 establishing the Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) which is responsible for the registration and regulation of the accounting and auditing profession. This consequently infers that some auditors have to register first with BICA as certified auditors, and also with BAOA as certified auditors of public bodies. So, the Bills sought to avert the duplication.

According to Minister Matsheka, the duplication of efforts in the regulation of auditors, which is done by both BICA and BAOA, creates a substantial gap on oversight of certified auditors in Botswana, as the two entities have different review procedures. He contends that the enforcement of sanctions becomes problematic and, thus, leads to offenders going Scot-Free, and audit quality standards also continue to plunge.

The Financial Reporting (Amendment) Bill, 2020, in the view of the Minister, brings the oversight and regulation of all auditors in Botswana under the jurisdiction of the Accountancy Oversight Authority and that Bringing all auditors within one roof, under the supervision of BAOA would therefore reinforce their oversight and significantly enhance accountability.

He also pointed that the Bill broadens the current mandate of the Authority by redefining public interest entities to include public bodies, defined as boards, tribunals, commissions, councils, committees, other body corporate or unincorporated established under any enactment.

This covers any company in which government has an equity shareholding. In order to enable the process of instituting fitting sanctions against violation of its provisions, the Bill clearly lays down acts and lapses that constitute professional misconduct.

This Bill further strengthens the sanctions for breach of the Act by public interest entities, officers, firms, and certified auditors. Reinforcing the law with respect to such sanctions will act as an effective deterrent for breach of the Act.

The Accountants Bill also strengthens the current mandate of the Institute by making it obligatory for those who provide accountancy services in Botswana to register with the Institute, and for all employers to hire accountants who are registered with the Institute.

The Minister reasons that in line with the spirit of citizen empowerment, this Bill proposes reservation of at least 50% of the Council membership for citizens. This, he says, is to empower citizens and ensure that citizenries play an active role in the affairs of the Institute, and ultimately in the development of the accounting profession in Botswana.

The Bills come at a point when Botswana’s financial sector is in a quagmire. The country has been blacklisted by the European Union. Its international rankings on Corruption Perception Index have slightly reduced.  According to recent reports by Afro Barometer survey, perceptions of corruption in the public service have soured and so is mistrust in public institutions.

Rating agencies, Standard Poor’s and Moody’s have downgraded Botswana, albeit slightly. The reasons are that there continues to be corruption, fiscal and revenue crimes such as money laundering and general unethical governance in the country. There are still loopholes in many laws despite the enactments and amendments of more than thirty laws in the last two years.

One of the most critical aspect of enhancing transparency and accountability and general good governance, is to have a strong auditing and accounting systems. Therefore, such professions must be properly regulated to ensure that public monies are protected against white color crime. It is well known that some audit firms are highly unprincipled.

They are responsible for tax avoidance and tax evasions of some major companies. Some are responsible for fraud that has been committed. They are more loyal to money paid by clients than to ethical professional standards. They shield clients against accountability. Some companies and parastatals have collapsed or have been ruined financially despite complementary reports by auditors.

In some cases, we have seen audit firms auditing parastatals several times to almost becoming resident auditors. This is bad practice which is undesirable. Some auditors who were appointed liquidators of big companies have committee heinous crimes of corruption, imprudent management, fraud and outright recklessness without serious consequences.

There is also a need to protect whistleblowers as they have been victimized for blowing the whistle on impropriety. In fact, in some cases, audit firms have exonerated culprits who are usually corrupt corporate executives.

The accounting and auditing professions have been dominated by foreigners for a very long time. Most major auditing firms used by state entities and big private sector companies are owned by foreigners. There has to be a deliberate plan to have Batswana in this profession.

While there are many Batswana who are accountants, less are chartered accountants. There must be deliberate steps to wrestle the profession from foreigners by making citizens to be chartered.  It is also important to strengthen the Auditor General. The office is created by the constitution.

The security of tenure is clearly secured in the constitution. However, this security of tenure was undermined by the appointing authority in many instances whereby the Auditor General was appointed on a short-term contract. The office is part of the civil service and is not independent at all.

The Auditor General is placed, in terms of scale, at Permanent Secretary level and is looked at as a peer by others who think they can’t be instructed by their equivalent to comply. Some have failed to submit books of accounts for audits, e.g. for special funds without fear or respect of the office. There is need to relook this office by making it more independent and place it higher than Permanent Secretaries.

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!