Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Former BMC auditor dragged on hot coal for “incompetence”

The Parliamentary Select Committee investigating the decline of beef industry and irregularities at Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) on Monday angrily accused the former Commission’s Audit Manager of “fumbling and not being helpful” to the investigations.┬á

It was a tense morning as Acting Parliamentary Committee Chairman, Frank Ramsden, and Committee members interrupted Dobald Ndlovu on a couple of occasions, as they showed signs of impatience with his vague explanations. 

The Committee unanimously agreed to postpone the hearing as Ramsden sent a clear warning to Ndlovu that “next time when you come back we don’t want you to fumble”.┬á He also advised Ndlovu that he should not cut his line of communication as “you did last time”.

┬á“A professional and an educated man like you does not come empty handed. We were trying to establish facts; maybe you found the problems at BMC, perhaps you had constraints, but you didn’t say anything,” said a visibly disappointed and frustrated Ramsden.

In his defence, Ndlovu said he had earlier called the National Assembly Secretariat informing it that in order for him to give the Committee adequate responses, he should have been given adequate time to look at his former documents which included, among others,  audited reports  that he undertook while he was still the Audit Manager at BMC.

But the Committee members’ frustration boiled over several times during the two hours of questioning, as Ndlovu repeatedly failed to give satisfactory responses on matters that he said he could only be in a position to answer if the committee had seen his audited reports and if they were also placed before him. ┬á

Committee member Gilson Saleshando accused Ndlovu of being “unhelpful.”

“You are being unhelpful because you claim we have not seen what you had? What did you do when the problems started at BMC; what you audited and what you did? We are firing questions from all directions and it’s not systematic,” said Saleshando.

Another Committee member, Moeng Pheto, also interjected and said, “I have frustrations as everybody else. Did you have access to BMC’s 19 accounts locally and 21 outside Botswana and did you audit them.”┬á┬á

Pheto also accused Ndlovu of refusing to answer his questions and those of other Committee members.

Ndlovu had earlier told the committee that he was aware of three BMC accounts in Botswana and two from outside the country. ┬á“I was restricted by the number of staff I had. It’s not like we had resources to audit every account at BMC,” said Ndlovu.

Committee member,, Prince Maele, also expressed irritation when Ndlovu repeated that for the committee to make informed opinions, they should have seen his audited reports.

“I don’t think we will go anywhere with Ndlovu. I have painfully looked at management letters and I want to know how he responded to these letters as they are critical. I can’t also see your audit of the livestock department. As the pulse of the organisation, you should have been the first person to blow the whistle ‘that we are sinking,’” said Maele.

Ndlovu said he took all his audited reports to the Audit Committee on quarterly basis.

“We did our audit for the livestock department and reported our findings. It must be noted that we reported to the audit committee and not the main board or the management,” said Ndlovu.

He added that he attempted to blow the whistle where it was necessary; but as a BMC employee he was restricted by the confidentiality clause.

On the budget, Ndlovu said the management would come up with the budget but the board would also come up with amendments and overrule their decisions.  

Falling short of describing Ndlovu as an incompetent auditor, Maele said; “I’m frustrated, I can’t see what you were doing there; there were no controls in place and that’s what honourable members are concerned about. You should have asked why people are paid outside BMC salary structures.”

The committee was to later convene a closed session and decided that the hearing should be adjourned because they were not extracting enough information they sought from Ndlovu.  

“He has literature which he needs to look into, to assist our investigations. We were just going in circles with no outcome. We have given Ndlovu the liberty to bring what he needs. The committee needs the following from him: minutes of the audit committee, response to management letters, audit of other sections and livestock,” said Ramsden.

The committee also want external audits and major findings of the audits at BMC.

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