The newly appointed Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) Eric Molale is currently the most sought after Cabinet Minister. The reason is plain and simple; he is by law and purpose expected to announce the final list of nominated councilors, usually the last hope of redemption for election losers and political enthusiasts.
The Minister is expected to announce appointment of at least 133 specially nominated councillors. It is expected that an overwhelming majority of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members who lost in the recent General Elections will make the cut. This week, WeekendPost has established that the issue of the councillors’ nomination was discussed at length by the ruling party, in their weekly meeting. There were concerns from various members including Minister Molale. The Minister’s peers demanded to know why it has taken this long for the Minister to have released the final list for the nominations.
It is said Molale, who enjoys power, kept calm and even raised his own queries. According to informants the Minister decried the fact that the Permanent Secretary (PS) from the same Ministry invited the interested players to submit their names for special nomination consideration. It is said the Minister wanted this to have been done after he was appointed to head the Ministry and suspected it was done to undermine him.
“There was confusion as to who directed the PS to do that because it should have been a directive from the Minister. So he was just raising that concern. This was after fellow legislators asked him what could be delaying the list of nominations and the confusion caused thereof as some interested parties were told a new saving-gram will circulate replacing the initial one,” an informant told this publication.
Molale’s concerns converge with that of Leader of Opposition (LOO) Dumelang Saleshando, who has questioned the decision to have specially nominated councillors applying for the post before the relevant Minister was appointed. Subsequent to the confusion, Molale issued a directive suspending the orientation of all councillors across the country. The orientations of almost 500 councillors were scheduled for this past week and it was stopped mid-way on Monday.
“Molale feels undermined. All along elected councillors do their orientation first then the specially elected do theirs later. But after the directive, both elected and nominated councillors will do the orientation at the same time. He just wants to wield the power he has,” one Councillor shared with WeekendPost. Molale could not comment on the matter, saying: “Please talk to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry.” The enquiries directed to the acting PS Col Duke Masilo, were also not efficiently responded to.
“The deadline for submission to the Minister was on the 20th of this month. The Minister then has to submit to his Principal, whereupon a final decision will be taken on nominations.” On the directive which cancelled orientation, Col Masilo said: “I am not fully aware of the stopped orientations but I will enquire and revert.”
The councillors however are crying foul that the current development has stalled progress, as they prepare to take on their duties. The councils have the responsibility of electing Council chairpersons, Mayors as well as Constituting Committees, a task which councillors want to deal with without delay.
BDP to reward party loyalists and activists
Special nomination of councillors has been a debatable matter over the years, with opposition politicians questioning its purpose and fairness. In the General Elections of 2014, of the 133 councilors nominated by the then Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane, only seven belonged to the opposition while the rest were BDP members and predominately preceding election losers.
There are reports that the trio of President Mokgweetsi Masisi, his Vice-Slumber Tsogwane and Molale want to short circuit the process and mostly reward the party veterans who were assisting in the campaigns of the just ended elections. Secret meetings are said to be held even at the State House, to decide who will make the cut. This is another factor that has irked the MPs, who as per norm, are given the opportunity to pitch a name or two for nominations.
“But it seems like this time around the decision will be taken by these three, leaving key stakeholders [MPs] out,” highlighted a source on Thursday morning. As per the practice, each party represented in a council has the right to suggest names for the positions of nominated councillors which are routed through the District Commissioners for consideration by the Minister. Each constituency is entitled to two nominations which the Minister could decline or accept.
WeekendPost has it on good authority who those party activists are; those who worked hard during the campaigns and those who lost in the past General Elections. BDP is also said to be working on a plan that will ensure that nomination of councillors will be used to neutralize opposition in councils were BDP numbers fell short. Nominated Councillors have in the past helped the ruling party to balance power in Local Authorities. There are areas where the BDP was out-numbered by a small fraction and it used the dispensation to manipulate the scales.
After the October 23rd election, the ruling party has control of, Francistown City Council, Sowa Town, North East District Council, Chobe District Council, Southern District Council, and Lobatse Town Council, Jwaneng Town Council, South East, Kweneng, Kgatleng and Kgalagadi it however shares Ghanzi with UDC. The UDC is expected to control North West, Central District Council, and Selibe Phikwe.
Among the nominated names which raised eyebrows, was Alec Seametso who lost in the previous General Elections of 2014. Also nominated in 2014, was Oliphant Mfa, Andy Boatile and Shabir Kablay. This time around the names of Lotty Manyapedza and Mpho Kooreme are already hinted for nominations. The system has always been condemned by opposition MPs as they see it as a way of bringing back individuals who were rejected by voters, therefore going against the wishes of the electorates.
Even in the past BDP heavy weights like former Vice President, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe have spoken against the practice. During the 9th Parliament, Kedikilwe tabled a motion in Parliament calling for the system to be scrapped, as it had diverted from its intended purpose and instead has been turned into a patronage exercise aimed at rewarding BDP activists.
The immediate past leader of opposition, Duma Boko has in the past revealed that his party planned to overhaul the legislation surrounding specially elected MPs and councilors. “I must record the indignant rage felt by us in the opposition and indeed the scornful resentment all reasonable citizens feel at this disgraceful conduct. There is nothing honorable about the conduct of the executive in this regard.”
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.