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Ministry of Finance, Auditor General clash over BCL P1.2 billion liquidation expenditure

Last Friday Account General & Auditor General was at logger heads over P1.2advanced by Government to aid liquidation of BCL Mine.

Reporting before Parliament Public Accounts Committee sitting on performance and auditsAccountant General Mr Kealeboga Molelowatladi revealed that P900 million was “advanced” from the Public Debt Service Fund (PDSF), a fund only meant “loans” not advancesaccording to Auditor General

“Advances are made from cash accounts not this fund, that’s not how things are done in government said Ms Molefhi representing the Auditor General.According to Molefhi before even any explanation ” no government advances are made from the Public Debt Service Account ”

Accountant General Mr Kealeboga Molelowatladi explained that over P900 million was drawn from the PDSF and later over P211 million was advanced from the cash to aid liquidation of BCL Mine.This was a directive from the President and Cabinet that over P1.1 billion be advanced to BCL liquidator with a condition that once the liquidation process is complete the liquidator would refund government its money” Molelowatladi explained.

Ms Mompi, Special Advisor to the Public Accounts Committee rejected the Accountant General ‘s explanation demanding details on how Government’ s money will be paid back”There is no commitment on paper that we have seen on how and when would the liquidator pay Government ‘s money back”

Quizzed on whether there is any contract available to commit and ensure taxpayers money would be reimbursed Finance PS Dr Winfred Mandlebe said, ” We cant produce a contract per say but we can bring the directive that ordered that advance to your attention, the directive from Cabinet and Office of the President that said advance so much to the liquidator.”

Dr Mandlebe went on to explain that the liquidator will pay back the money, “we advanced the money to theliquidator not BCL Mine, soon as he/she is done with theprocess we expect that to be paid.”

PAC Committee Chairman, Dithapelo Keorapetse expressed concerns that government might never get its money back “What if the mine is bought at an amount less than what we advanced to the liquidator, where is the liquidator going to get money to pay taxpayerss money back?”

The Finance Permanent Secretary who was appearing as the Accounting officer further explained that government chose to fund the BCL liquidation in order to expedite the process and ultimately end up with a new BCL under new investors. Remember the liquidator had a choice to go and get a loan for liquidation expenses, government chose to advance so that no extra cost is incurred in terms of interest accruing credit facilities,” he said.

Rejecting Ministry of Finances explanation the Auditor Generals office labeled the transaction as inappropriate”. Youcannot advance from PDSF, because PDSF (public debt service fund) is for loans, you only advance from Cash, if you transact from this debt fund there should be clear terms and conditions on repayment guidelines because this is now a loan not and an advance.”

Accountant General Kealeboga Molelowatladi said theliquidator was acting on behalf of Government and PDSF was the only fund where the money could have come from.NoGovernment advances are taken from this account, this is very inappropriate and against public finance management ethics,” Mmopi further quashed Ministry of Finance.

For her part learned Counsel deployed by the Attorney General to the Public Accounts Committee said the gist of the matter is whether or not and how would government get its money. What was the measure put in place to ensure that government will be paid,Cabinet Directive is not enough, there must have been a legal document or framework in place,” she said.

Finance PS explained that government would be paid from sale of BCL assets, I believe there is an asset register of all BCL assets and government will be paid from sale of those.”

PAC Member and Mp for Francistown South Wynter Mmolotsi said it made no sense how Government would be reimbursed. I don’t understand what the Permanent Secretary mean by saying BCL assets could be sold to recover government money because this is a company in liquidation, all assets will be sold and the money will pay its creditor.”

Dr Mandlebe said Government is not an ordinary creditor Government is sitting on top, whatever the liquidator collects from sale of BCL assets he has to pay government first.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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