Sunday, September 27, 2020

National Disaster Relief fund looted to set up DISS

The Office of the President of Botswana has been slammed for diverting close to P12.4 million in the accounts of the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) from its intended use to the formation of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), sometime before the inauguration of the incumbent President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama in April last year.

This was revealed by the report of the Auditor-General on the Accounts of the Botswana Government for the Financial Year ended 31st March 2008, which was released end of last week.

Even though, no mention is made of the legality or otherwise of the Directorate at the time, startling revelations are made of how the hasty inception of that country’s secret service, on the eve of Khama’s ascension to the highest office, led to the use of unauthorized funds as there was no accounting code for an otherwise non existent department.

It is on record that the initial funds, which were required for the start up of the DISS, totalled P24 321 275.

“However, the actual DISS expenditure charged to the Fund amounted to P36 695 455, which resulted in undervaluing the NDRF by P12 374 180,” stated part of the Report.

A further P3000 000 was subverted to the Botswana Red Cross Society (BRCS) to meet part of the society’s operational expenses.

Titus Makosha, Deputy Executive Secretary of the BRCS, told the Sunday Standard that the P3 million received from the Fund was used to tackle some administrative challenges the society faced such as payment of staff and clearance of some outstanding debts. Besides, the BRCS official pointed out that for all the more than P250 000 00, that they incurred in dealing with natural disasters they depended on goodwill contributions.

He said that the bulk of the money came from the International Federation of the Red Cross.
Makosha, however, expressed concern that in the face of calamities in the form of floods and disrupted sanitation systems that befell the people of Gweta, Zoroga, Nata and encashment areas, more could have been done, but for a shortage of funds.

Moreover, he stated that the P3 000 000 was a once off assistance they had asked for because of the special circumstances they were in.

To drive the point home, he said, “In our own interpretation of disaster relief, it is insufficient to just provide food and clothing for the victims of such humanitarian crisis. But it is also considered imperative that the victims’ resilience be boosted and a sustainable mode of living beyond the crisis be assured,” he concluded.

On account of the BRCS perspective, it remains a matter of guesswork as to what extent has the capacity of the Disaster Relief Fund may have been affected by the excesses of the DISS.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.