A decision by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to drop Bogolo Kenewendo from politics and cabinet late last year especially from Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) has left government with devastating repercussions which could see the electric car dream fading away, WeekendPost has learnt.
This publication is reliably told that after Masisi brainstormed the idea to assemble the electric car, the first person he thought of to deliver the project without blemish was Kenewendo. The reasons were plain and simple according to those in the know, her Ministry was tasked with luring investors locally and already she had connections with relevant parties for the job.
The idea to build an electric car was further strengthened by the commitment made to President Masisi after he asked Kenewendo in one of Ministry’s Economic Review sessions what the Ministry was doing to position Botswana in the digital economy and whether they could build an electric car. “He asked me and my team… can you build a car? And without any hesitation I said ‘yes sir, we mostly certainly can’, and we have been working tirelessly to find the right partners so that we can realize this dream” Kenewendo said last year.
“One of the sectors we have decided to focus on in the development of Botswana, is the auto sector and what we have been saying as we go around the world is that we are not necessarily asking for a body shop but focusing on the auto parts; on the supply side of the motor industry,” added the then youthful Minister, when launching Smart Green Botswana Makeathon. A Makeathon idea was to mix passionate designers, creators and developers from different fields to provide an environment such as innovation labs, where they can transform their ideas into functioning prototypes to eventually create a tangible product for the market.
Following this, former Assistant Minister of Youth Empowerment Sports and Culture Development Philip Makgelemele also wrote. “The good news is that Dr. Rainer Stetter, the highly rated German Engineer and designer of solar an electric vehicles and his team have landed in Gaborone to design an electric car.” The dream looked even brighter, until the day when Masisi overlooked Kenewendo to continue with the responsibility given. She was then replaced by her former Permanent Secretary Peggy Serame.
The German expert who came to Gaborone to start the design were roped in by Kenewendo. “She had everything for the development of that car. She understood that blueprint like no one within the Ministry and the Government, she was also the one who was at the forefront of looking for partners and the contacts were in her notepad. This has now made it difficult for anyone to continue with the project because the handing over process was not done accordingly,” shared an informant who even revealed that the dream has faded away.
Kenewendo has since departed to work in Ghana, where she was before she was recruited into politics by former President Ian Khama. Those in the know tell this publication that after that snub, Kenewendo has travelled with all the information leaving Masisi and the Ministry with nothing to continue pushing for the development of the electric car.
“All the European contacts that she had to pursue the project are nowhere to be found and she is not giving any help when contacted. It seems she was not happy when she was not included in the cabinet and she will use this to retaliate. Government took her from her job to join politics then dumped her like that, she has every reason to be livid,” added the informant.
This has now frustrated government’s intention of transforming this country as an industrial hub. The matter is so serious that the government has also been advised not to continue with the project as it will be another tedious process, more-so the person who was at the fore-front has gone with all data. Kenewendo did not respond to this publication’s enquiries on the matter.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.