Fuel crisis looms as ministries fail to pay CTO bills
By Aubrey Lute
The Ministry of Transport and Communications has notified government ministries and departments that it will shut off fuel supply soon if bills running into millions of Pula are not paid.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Jimmy Opelo, expressed his frustrations in a savingram dated 9th November 2021 addressed to various ministries and government departments. In the savingram titled “urgent request for payment of outstanding fuel bills”, he warned that should ministries and departments fail to settle their outstanding bill totalling P18 million, he would have no option as “CTO will be authorised to deny ministries access to fuel supply across all its fuel points.”
Opelo reminded ministries and departments that CTO is charged with the responsibility of, amongst others, providing fuels and lubricants to the government fleet for ministries/departments. He added that at the same time, it is also charged with the responsibility to collect revenue for the fuel dispensed to the vehicles and plant. “Fuel bills are prepared and sent to Ministries for payment, but we are experiencing slow payments.
Kindly find attached to this savingram outstanding amounts of fuel bills yet to be honoured by respective ministries and independent departments for a period: April-August 2021,” said Opelo. According to Opelo, “Altogether, a total amount of P18, 929,975.48 is outstanding for that period alone. The respective Ministries are required to issue letters of Authority (LAs) to the CTO to procure fuel. The LAs should reach CTO within seven days (7) from the date of this savingram, failing which the CTO will be authorised to deny ministries access to fuel supply across all its fuel points.”
Opelo requested ministries and departments “to observe this timeframe and honour their fuel bills to avoid inconveniences to their operations as well as to facilitate CTO to service them.” It is understood that the CTO had written a letter to the parent Ministry (Ministry of Transport and Communications) informing it that other ministries and government departments are unwilling to settle their bills.
According to a revenue collection report that CTO filed with the Ministry, from April to August, Parliament owed P11 933.16. It had not paid any amount as its outstanding amount still stood at P11 933.16. The Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration’s bill from April to August was P1 088 416, 89, and it paid P560 359.45 and has an outstanding amount of P528 057.44, Finance and Economic Development, owed 290 910,10 and has since paid P65 835.61, and the deficit is P225 074.49.
The Ministry of National Immigration and Gender Affairs owed P606 647,21 and has paid nothing as the outstanding amount still stands at P606 647,21, while the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security owed P2 386 926, 06 and has since paid P967 570, 79 and the outstanding balance is P1 414 826,23. Basic Education Ministry owed P2 135 877,50 and has since paid P575 223, 12, and the outstanding amount is P1 560 654,38 and the Ministry of Investment Trade.
and Industry owed P171 8886,91 and has since paid P49 544,53 and now owes P122 342,38 while Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development owed P1 764 512, 07 and has since paid P642 003, 79 and now owes P1 122 508,26.
For its part, the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy owed P159, 239, 85 and has paid nothing as the outstanding amount still stands at P259 239,85, Health and Wellness Ministry owed P5 365 426,06 and has since paid P1 785 034, 83 and P3 580 391,23 is an outstanding balance.
The Administration of Justice owes P269 365 50 and has since paid nothing as its outstanding balance has not changed, Attorney General Chambers owed P255 901,88 and still owes the same amount as it has not paid anything, Auditor General owed P23 001,40 and has since paid P7 045,23 and now owes P15 956,17, Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation owed P6 959,29 and has since paid P206 712,60, and its outstanding balance is P-199 753,31, Independent Electoral Commission owed P91, 027,48 and has since paid P47 604,76 and now owes P43 422,72, Office of the Ombudsman owes P64 166 and still woes the same amount.
The Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services owes P553618,05 and still owes the same amount; Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Ministry owed P2 145 983, 76 and has since paid P50 524, 41 and the outstanding amount is P2 095 459,35, Industrial Court owed P22 550,80 and has paid P14 601,67 and now owes P7 949,13, Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development owed P477 682,65 and has since paid P2 321, 01 and now owes P475 361,50, Infrastructure and Housing P445 083,65 and paid P225 177,57 and now owes P219 906,08.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications itself owed P1 837 991,97 and has since paid P525 586,35, and the outstanding amount is P1 312 405,62, Defence Justice and Security Ministry owed P6 594 352,58 and has since paid P2 392 967, 89and now owes P4 201 384,69, Ministry of Labour and Skills Development owed P217 881,99 and has paid P76 000.00 and now owes P5 056,29 and Ministry of Tertiary Education Resources, Science and Technology owed P184 200,63 and paid P96 319,91 and now owes P87 880,72.
DPP drops Kably threat to kill case
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Letlhakeng/Lephephe Liakat Kably has welcomed the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP)â€™s decision not to prosecute BDP councillor, Meshack Tshenyego who allegedly threatened to kill him. However, the legislator has warned that should anything happen to his life, the state and the courts will have to account.
In an interview with this publication, Kablay said he has heard that the DPP has declined to prosecute Tshenyego in a case in which he threatened to kill him adding that the reasons he received are that there was not enough evidence to prosecute. â€śI am fine and at peace with the decision not to prosecute over evidential deficits but I must warn that should anything happen to my life both the DPP and the Magistrate will have to account,â€ť Kablay said.
Connectedly, Kably said he has made peace with Tshenyego, â€śwe have made peace and he even called me where upon we agreed to work for the party and bury the hatchetâ€ť.
The DPP reportedly entered into a Nolle Prosequi in the matter, meaning that no action would be taken against the former Letlhakeng Sub-district council chairperson and currently councillor for Matshwabisi.
According to the charge sheet before the Court, councilor Tshenyego on July 8th, 2022 allegedly threatened MP Kably by indirectly uttering the following words to nominatedcouncilor Anderson Molebogi Mathibe, â€śMosadi wa ga Liakat le ban aba gagwe ba tsile go lela, Mosadi wame le banake le bone ba tsile go lela. E tla re re mo meeting, ka re tsena meeting mmogo, ke tla mo tlolela a bo ke mmolaya.â€ť
Loosely translated this means, Liakatâ€™s wife and children are going to shed tears and my wife and kids will shed tears too. I will jump on him and kill him during a meeting.
Mathibe is said to have recorded the meeting and forwarded it to Kably who reported the matter to the police.
In a notice to the Magistrate Court to have the case against Tshenyego, acting director of Public Prosecutions, Wesson ManchweÂ cited the nolle prosequi by the director of public prosecution in terms of section 51 A (30) of the Constitution and section 10 of the criminal procedure and evidence act (CAP 08:02) laws of Botswana as reasons for dropping the charges.
A nolle prosequi is a formal notice of abandonment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit or action.
â€śIn pursuance of my powers under section 51 A (300 of the Constitution and section 10 of the criminal procedure and evidence act (CAP 08:02) laws of Botswana, I do hereby stop and discontinue criminal proceedings against the accused Meshack Tshenyego in the Kweneng Administrative District, CR.No.1077/07/2022 being the case of the State vs Tshenyego,â€ť said Manchwe. The acting director had drafted the notice dropping the charges on 13th day of March 2023.
The case then resumed before the Molepolole Magistrate Solomon Setshedi on the 14th of March 2023. The Magistrate issued an order directing â€śthat matters be withdrawn with prejudice to the State, accused is acquitted and discharged.â€ť
DPP seizes prosecution duties from Police
Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) has finally taken over prosecution from the Botswana Police Service (BPS). The police have been prosecuting for years, but the takeover means that they will now only focus on investigations and then hand over to the DPP for prosecution.
Talks of complete takeover began as far back as 2008, but for years it seemed implementation was sluggish. However, the Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni, revealed that the complete takeover is expected to be completed soon.
During a presentation to the Committee of Supply by Shamukuni this week, it was revealed that the project has been implemented in 22 police stations nationwide, including Maun, Selebi-Phikwe, Palapye, Francistown, and Kasane. He further stated that the project has been allocated P3,000,000 for the 2023/2024 financial year to facilitate the opening of more satellite offices for the DPP.
Shamukuni said the Lobatse station is scheduled for a complete takeover by the end of May 2023, while the Kasane DPP satellite office has been established and became operational as of February 1, 2023.
“As reported previously, preparations are at an advanced stage to open a satellite office in Tsabong to curtail expenses, as well as frequent long-distance trips to these areas, as it is currently serviced by the Lobatse DPP office,” Shamukuni said.
Shamukuni said that the takeover strategy is to enable a seamless and gradual takeover of prosecution from the BPS without overwhelming and overstretching the thin resources at its disposal.
According to Shamukuni, the implementation of the prosecution takeover project has increased the workload of the 211 prosecutors in the DPP establishment.
Furthermore, the Justice Minister said DPP statistics show that the DPP has a total of 11,903 cases and dockets as of January 2023. He indicated that this is a significant increase in the number of cases being handled by the DPP, considering that in November 2021, the DPP had just over 8,471 files.
â€śOut of the total case load, 8 382 are cases pending before various courts while 3521 are dockets received from law enforcement agencies of which 1 325 are awaiting service of summons while the rest are being assessed for suitability of prosecution or otherwiseâ€ť said Shamukuni.
He further stated that The DPP has consistently maintained an 80% success rate in matters completed at court.
â€śAs at the end of January 2023, the success rate stood at 82.3% against a target of 90% whilst the average performance in respect of turnaround time for conclusion of cases at court stood at 17.5 months against a target of 18 months,â€ť he said.
BACKLOG OF CASES â€“ LAND TRIBUNAL
Meanwhile, Minister Shamukuni has revealed that Gaborone land Tribunal is experiencing a backlog of cases. Before parliament this week, Shamukuni revealed that a total 230 appeals were completed for the period of April 2022- December 2022 and only 76.5% of them were completed within set time frame.
The minister said that the Gaborone division has experiencing a backlog of cases due to manpower constraints and he further indicated that presiding officers from other divisions have been brought in to expedite case disposal.
He further indicated that the land tribunal is a specialized court that has been empowered to resolve appeals arising from land boards. â€śIt has been mandated to determine appeals from the decisions of Physical planning committees of Districts Councilsâ€ť said Shamukuni.
Land Tribunal relocated to the Ministry of Justice from Ministry of Land and Water Affairs in November 2022.
â€śAn amount of P37, 842,670 is requested to cover salaries, allowance and other operational expenses for the Department of the land Tribunal,â€ť alluded Shamukuni
BCP, AP stalemate in 7 constituencies
When the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Alliance for Progressives, Botswana Labour Party (BLP), and conveners reconvene next week, the controversial issue of allocation of the seven constituencies will be the main topic of discussion, WeekendPost can reveal.
Not only that, but the additional four constituencies will also dominate the talks. The idea is to finally close the “constituency allocation phase,” which has proven to be the most difficult part of the ongoing negotiations.
Earlier this year, the two parties announced that the marathon talks would be concluded by February. Even at a media briefing last month, BCP Secretary General Goretetse Kekgonegile and Publicity Secretary Dr. Mpho Pheko were optimistic that the negotiations would be concluded before the end of February.
However, it is now mid-March and the talks have yet to be concluded. What could be the reasons for the delay? This is a question that both Kekgonegile and Pheko have not responded to, as they have ignored the reporters’ inquiries. However, a senior figure within the party has confided to this publication as to what is delaying the highly anticipated negotiations.
“We are reconvening next week to finalize constituency allocations, taking into account the additional four new ones plus the outstanding seven,” he explained. It later surfaced that Gaborone Central, Gaborone North, Mogoditshane, Tswapong North, Francistown West, Tati West, and Nata Gweta are all contested by both BCP and AP. This is because the other 50 constituencies were allocated by December of last year.
The three parties have failed to find common ground for the Bosele Ward by-elections. Are these constituencies not a deal breaker for the talks? “None of the constituencies is a deal breaker,” responded a very calm BCP official.
In Bosele Ward, AP has yielded to BCP, despite most of its members disapproving the decision. On the other hand, BLP has refused, and it will face off with BCP together with Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
The decision by BLP to face off with BCP has been labelled as a false start for the talks by political observers.