Connect with us
Friday, 19 April 2024

PAC exposes problems at OP, Basic Education


The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report released last month has uncovered general lapses of governance relating to operations within government ministries.

The Committee held its 58th meeting from the 7th June to the 5th July 2021 to examine the accounts of the Government for the Financial Year ended 31st March 2019 and on the 26th July to the 4th August to examine Performance Audit reports submitted by the Auditor General, as required by Standing Order 105.3 of the National Assembly of Botswana.
[ihc-hide-content ihc_mb_type=”show” ihc_mb_who=”1,2,3″ ihc_mb_template=”1″ ]
In the scrutiny of various ministries, the committee chaired by Selibe Phikwe West MP, Dithapelo Keorapetse noticed that enrolment in primary school is about 337 655 on average but the number declines to an average of 180 925 at secondary school which is 54% of the enrolment at primary school. Whilst the NER is higher for primary school, it is significantly lower for secondary school.

“The committee is concerned at the number of learners that drop out of the education system and its effect on the country’s goal of having an inclusive and accessible quality education for all. On average from primary to secondary school, the system loses 54% of the learners along the way. The factors affecting enrolment and transition rates needs to be investigated including what happens to the learners that drop out given that not having a secondary education affects the employability and wellbeing of the youth,” reads the report.

As a result of this, the committee has recommended that a tracer study should be done to find out what happens to the learners that drop out and the reasons for the low progression and completion rates in secondary school. School fees is another issue that emanated from the report as most students are said to be reluctant to pay the fee.

“Out of the estimated revenue of P18 387 200.00 for the current year, only P12 874 365 was collected leaving an under collection of P5 512 836. The arrears from previous years totaled P 91 449 686.79 for which there was no recoveries during the year,” highlighted the report.

The 10 member committee is of the view that although means testing is carried out to exempt the poor, collection continues to be a problem for the Ministry. The committee is of the view that discussions need to be done on whether cost sharing through the collection of fees has achieved desirable results given that only a fraction of parents are paying.

“Consultation needs to be done on whether school fees should continue to be paid looking at the original rational for the paying of school fees and the reluctance of parents to pay,” Bridget John who is the accounting officer of the Ministry has been advised by the committee.


The direct appointment of Steve Harvey Global for the provision of content and technical advice to the Broadcasting Services to the exclusion of Batswana and other companies is another matter that the committee discussed. In fact the committee believes that open competitive bidding would have informed on whether Batswana can do the job or not. The committee contends that it is possible that Batswana bidders would have sought partnership with any specialist in the world when making the bid.

They were responding to the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Pearl Ramokoka’s submissions that that “the Ministry requested for a direct appointment because Steve Harvey Global offers a whole lot of experience in the Entertainment Industry and that the Department of Broadcasting Services has a relationship with local companies and does not know any local company that could match with Steve Harvey Global.”

PAC, which is currently the only lively committee even recommended that, the offer to Steve Harvey Global should be rescinded. Competitive processes should be used to allow equal opportunity to local bidders; and before direct procurement is used there should be justification as why the services can only be obtained from one source including the action taken to identify additional suppliers, the report said.


While examining the books, the committee found out that there are two centres of power in Covid-19 response related procurement; being the Ministry of Health and the Covid-19 Task Team in the Office of the President.

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-19 response related procurement when the Ministry of Health is the one which has the experience and mandate of dealing with the pandemic.

It was, however, 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 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.

Since most Covid procurement fell under emergency, there is need for openness and transparency regarding the procurement,” the committee has advised. The committee even 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.

Besides, the committee argued, 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.  According to the committee, judgement should be used even during direct awards to ensure that prices are not higher than the market prices.


An enquiry was also made by the committee regarding the status of the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) and when the process will conclude. It came out that there have been delays due to disagreements on certain aspects such as how decisions of the PSBC would be made (i.e. consensus or majority vote) and representation (whether members can belong to more than one union).

He indicated that there was no set deadline regarding the matter. The committee is nonetheless concerned at the slow pace of the resuscitation of the PSBC and the lack of commitment to bring this matter to finality. “The matter of the resuscitation of the PSBC should be treated with the urgency it deserves as it is an important tool which enables tripartite cooperation and promotes harmonious Labour relations,” recommended the committee.


The submission made by the accounting officer indicated that in 2018/19 the wage bill was 46.6 % of the recurrent budget, the report said.  “Although there has been talk of the wage bill for a number of years it does not look like the DPSM as the employer has given serious thought to the issue or made any preparation to address the wage bill,” noted the report.

It was recommended by the committee that there has to be discussion and engagement on the wage bill to ensure that decisions on the wage bill are informed by a holistic analysis of all the underlying factors that affect the wage bill and its composition.  In addition, critical shortage of staff in some sectors like Health, Education should not be exacerbated by the desire to reduce the wage bill.


The current practice regarding appointments of officers within the DCEC is the same with the rest of the civil service where officers from E2 are appointed by the PSP and those from D1 and below by the Permanent Secretary, the committee has said. The organisation has had three director Generals within a spate of three years and five other senior officers had been transferred.

In his response the accounting officer for DCEC, Tymon Katholo (Director) indicated that to his understanding section 4.2 of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act gives the Director Operational Independence. The report, however, says Katholo concurs that the transfer of officers has the potential to undermine the independence of the DCEC if it is not done within the ambits of section 4.2.

He reiterated that the DCEC is a depository of a lot of sensitive information therefore, indiscriminate transfer and appointment of officers into the directorate may lead to persons who are conflicted being brought into the organisation.  The transfers also have an effect of weakening the organization when experienced investigators are transferred which undermines the fight against corruption.

The committee on the other hand argues that the independence of the DCEC needs to be enhanced by ensuring that the appointment of officers and organizational decision making is not influenced by the executive or any other person. The current arrangement creates the perception that the DCEC is an organ of the state rather than an independent entity that has the freedom to exercise its mandate without fear or favour.[/ihc-hide-content]


Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”










Continue Reading


Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

Continue Reading


Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.


Continue Reading