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New KDC chair calls for a better Kweneng

With the capital village of Kweneng District Council (KDC), Molepolole, being one the largest traditional villages in Africa with a population of over 70 000, the newly elected KDC chairman Motlhophi Leo has shared his fiver-year vision which is primarily focused on bringing basic services to the residents of the region with industrialisation as a secondary objective.

In an interview with WeekendPost this week, Leo is clear that he wants everything good for the district. He says this is achievable as his own Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) managed to take all the eight parliamentary seats in the area. “Out of 82 council seats only nine are for opposition, so this means as a party we should also work as there is no excuse. We have the numbers and we should push for motions that would be centric to the inhabitants of the district,” he said.

In his script to transform a district which is closer to the capital city, Leo has decided to call a leadership retreat in Manong Lodge next week where captains of various sectors will map the way forward for the district. Among the stakeholders expected to attend are all the eight legislators, councillors, traditional leadership, police and other interested parties who are advocating for the development in the region. As of 2011, the total population of the district was 304,549.

“We need developments in our area especially in our headquarters (Molepolole) which is also the third largest populated area in the country. For a long time the people have been crying about shortage of water and we thought that was over when the Ga-Mononyane mini station was erected unfortunately it has detoured its pipe. So this is one area that we need to priorities as the district leaders,” said Leo who was the KDC chairman from 2009 to 2014.

Another ambition that the chairman wishes to see it through during his five-year term is to ensure that big villages within the district have sewerage system. This he says is disappointing for a region as vast as KDC not to have the system despite being so populated and sophisticated.  “It is very disappointing to say the least,” he lamented before continuing. “This should be another priority that should be fought at all the structures including council and parliament so that it can be put in national development agenda.”

It has been long since the Molepolole storm water drainage was included in the national development grid but up to now nothing has materialised. Last year’s rainstorms which put the village to a standstill was a wake-up call for the leaders to draw a master plan of the storm water drainage infrastructure.

“We should show the government the need for this [storm water drainage] in our area. Imagine people who mostly commute from here [Molepolole] to Gaborone for work stranded on the other side because of a two hours rain,” Leo who is also a councillor for Loologa Ward in Molepolole South constituency expressed his dissatisfaction. Leo has also allocated roads in the district a chapter in his script. According to Leo, roads are not only easing movement of people and goods but poor roads also account to many mortalities in the region.

“It is an area of concern, if you can see how congested our roads (A10, A12) are in the mornings and evenings you would not like it. So all the concerned parties should speak for that in every fora available so that our people get the best. Look at Thamaga- Molepolole road, it is dilapidated, and Molepolole-Lentsweletau worse. But I have engaged the Minister of Transport and Communications about this and he has assured me that he will do all he can to remedy the situation,” said Leo.

He has also highlighted that he wants the internal roads prioritised to ease the movement of people within the villages. With the whole country under petty crime siege, the new chairman wants Molepolole Police Station to be upgraded. This, he says will help in curbing of crimes like smash and grab and burglary. However, interim interventions will be discussed at a retreat to be held next week.

EDUCATION CRISIS

Kweneng just like other districts has been recording unsatisfactory results across all levels. This is giving the new chair headache. Leo promises to fight with everything at his disposal to ensure that results improve during his tenure. This will include regular meetings with head-teachers, teachers to understand the root cause of this and come up with ideas to improve the education in the area especially in rural areas lying in the western side of the region.

 “In Molepolole alone we have 91 primary schools and you will find that some of these classes are taught outside and in these modern days that has been overtaken by events and we should advocate for more classes so that students are taught in a conducive environment, it could be the reason why we are recording poor results,” he said.

BUSINESSES SHOULD SET UP IN KDC

KDC chairman is on record conceding that it will be difficult to lure investors in the region while they are still grappling with challenges like poor roads network, sewerage, drainage and crime. He will however soon convene a meeting with some investors to get from the horse’s mouth why they are not expanding and to others why they are not setting up in the KDC despite its proximity to the capital city.

 “We have a lot of human resources that could do any job and our closeness to Gaborone should be an advantage because raw materials would take short time to arrive and operation start,” he advocated. He is also concerned about the business community in the area which he says is not giving back to the societies which they operate in. “Another thing is our investors are not giving back to the community as the government encourages. They can help us to achieve better results in education and other sectors. We will meet with them so that they can share with us why they are not giving back to the community,” Leo concluded.

DID YOU KNOW?

Kweneng is the only district without a foreign border. It borders Central District in northeast, Kgatleng District on the east, South-East District in southeast, Southern District in south, Kgalagadi District in the west, Ghanzi District in the north.

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Bangwato regent speaks ‘respect for Dikgosi’

23rd May 2022
Bangwato

Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.

Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.

Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.

One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution

Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.”  Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.

She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age.  Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.

Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.

Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.

For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.

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Parliament unveils major shake-up plans & reforms

23rd May 2022
Parliament

Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.

The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare.
Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.

According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned.  It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.

“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said.  Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.

The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.

The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.

The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.”  The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana.  It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.

“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.

Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.

“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversification of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly.  It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).

“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.

Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.

“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said.  The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.

The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.

“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

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Salbany, Bareetsi threaten to sue DIS

23rd May 2022
Salbany Bareetsi

Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.

After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.

They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.

“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.

They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”

They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.

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