Thursday, May 6, 2021

Khama freezes BNYC accounts following claims of impropriety

President Khama has ordered a freeze on funds of the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) following the preliminary results of an internal audit and a compiled report by the Directorate on Intelligence Service (DIS) agents which revealed abuse of funds.

Sunday Standard has it on good authority that agents from DIS were deployed to gather and compile information relating to abuse of funds and resources at BNYC last year.

The DIS later handed the file to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) to institute criminal investigations.

Following numerous concerns and complaints by some youth affiliations and BNYC Board Members, President Khama also instructed former Permanent Secretary Ruth Maphorisa to authorize an internal audit at BNYC which revealed that P8 million could not be accounted for.

Informed by the preliminary results of the internal audit in which BNYC failed to account for P8 million, the Office of the President instructed the Ministry to freeze BNYC funds and institute further investigations into the financial transactions and status of the youth organisation.

Currently the BNYC has to request for funds from the Ministry for salaries, utility bills and office rentals because its accounts have been frozen.

Documents passed to the Sunday Standard in the form of minutes of a meeting between the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Lewis Malikongwa and BNYC Executive Director, Benjamin Raletsatsi detail how the government further probed the youth organisation.

According to the minutes of the meeting which are dated between 25 and 26 November 2014, Malikongwa instructed that BNYC should provide a list of all bank accounts, all bank balances and the balance sheet for the Council.

Executive Committee members were also instructed to stop signing for all financial transactions for BNYC and a resolution to be signed by the Executive Committee should be drafted.

The resolution should be submitted to banks and the Ministry should provide a name of the official to countersign for all BNYC transactions.

Raletsatsi should also furnish Malikongwa with a list of all BNYC vehicles and provide all registration books for all BNYC vehicles.

Raletsatsi was also instructed to write to all District Commissioners requesting their offices to take custody of BNYC fleet of vehicles at District level. The BNYC Executive Director was also instructed to provide a list of outstanding debts to be cleared and provide balance sheets for the Council.

It has since emerged that the Ministry recently ordered its officers to impound 17 top of the range vehicles that were purchased illegally late last year as they were bought using a loan that was not approved by the Ministry. The fleet is currently parked at Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Glen Valley Barracks. Malikongwa further instructed Raletsatsi to collect BNYC Chairman Louis Sibanda’s vehicle and cease the council’s fleet disposal.

DCEC spokesperson Lentswe Motshoganetsi said, “I can confirm that we received leads on matters of corruption at Botswana National Youth Council throughout the year 2014. Most of the cases are still under investigations. It must be noted that even before the year 2014 there has been corruption cases reported at BNYC and they are still under investigation,” he said.

Motshoganetsi added that “I cannot clearly state which cases are currently under investigation because I do not have the statistics here with me today but I am sure that at the moment there is no BNYC case that had reached the courts yet, they are still under investigation.”

Despite a concerted effort, Malikongwa’s phone rang unanswered.

In a previous interview, Raletsatsi denied that the Ministry has impounded BNYC’s new fleet of vehicles.

“The Ministry did not seize any vehicles; rather, the BNYC is currently going through a restructuring process led by the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture. As part of this process the majority of BNYC vehicles have been parked safely until this process is complete; a skeletal fleet of vehicles is still in use,” he said.

BNYC chairman, Louis Sibanda and Raletsatsi have been fingered in the poor corporate governance that rocks the Council. Sunday standard intercepted an email from one member of the BNYC board warning Sibanda and Raletsatsi “to stop running the BNYC as they wish and like.”

“Once more to the leadership, may you please understand that we are voted by youth to run this organisation with you, not to watch you do as you wish and like. We are now part of results of your decisions that you make without our knowledge or our input. The three of you guys undermine us and I think I must take this time to warn you,” the email reads in part. It is also understood that Sibanda fell out with Boniface Disho who queried involvement of some board members in the daily administration of the Council. This resulted in the Executive Committee slapping Disho with a suspension with no charges preferred against. He has since been reinstated by the Ministry.

Contacted for comment, Disho confirmed his suspension but declined to be drawn into details reffering further enquiries to Sibanda whose mobile phone rang unanswered.

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