Incumbent Leader of Opposition (LOO) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando has not consulted with the party President Duma Gideon Boko on the opposition reaction to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), Weekend Post has learned.
It is not clear whether Boko, as the then LOO engaged and consulted with his Vice President and President of Botswana Congress party (BCP), an affiliate of UDC – who was then not in Parliament – on the party reaction towards the SONA and other equally critical matters at Parliament. However some independent pundits believe that, Saleshando as Boko’s Vice President, should from time to time consult with him on matters of national interest, especially to solicit his comments on important national matters like SONA.
When approached by this publication, Saleshando only confirmed consulting with other party colleagues in Parliament and not Boko per se. “Yes, on Tuesday I met UDC Parliamentarians to solicit their comments on SONA. I met those I was seeking help from – meaning the resource persons inside the party. So, Tuesdays and Thursdays I was going through the script,” he told Weekend Post on Thursday. When pressed on UDC President, he continued: “there was limited time to prepare to respond. In fact there was no time at all. I made the script in a short period of time, and had to respond timely.”
However, Saleshando could not be drawn on specific discussion on why he snubbed Boko on his reaction, insisting that he is not at liberty to comment on it. “I have no comment on that one,” he insisted. In terms of his response nonetheless, the Leader of Opposition said to this publication that he believes he spoke contents, and spoke to realities in the country, issues and concerns in the build up to the elections, economics of Botswana and all the problems bedeviling the country including and most importantly unemployment.
He dismissed Masisi’s SONA address saying it lacked the aspect of human condition in Botswana. “Your SONA should in the first instance be about the human condition in Botswana, i.e. how Batswana are doing? Put a human face to development management by prioritising issues of unemployment, poverty and, inequality.” He therefore stressed that Masisi’s SONA was deficient of statistics that matter about the state of human well-being in Botswana, which could have taken the core of his address.
UDC to review DCEC, DISS Act; bring Freedom of Information Act
In the speech, Saleshando relayed to the nation, UDC Parliamentary Plan for the coming 12 Months. He stated: “high on our priority, will be to amend the DCEC Act, to make it more independent and efficient in its mandate to combat corruption. We will also be presenting the Freedom of Information Act, which is a critical tool in combating corruption. We will also propose changes to the DISS Act to allow for accountability. These will be done within the next 12 months.”
‘We have also,’ he added, ‘decided to prioritise 3 of our election pledges over the coming 12 months and these are job creation, a shift to a living wage of P 3,000.00 in the formal sector within 3 financial years as well as increasing the Old Age Pension to P 1,500.00.’’ According to Saleshando, the starting point with job creation will be to insist on an annual target for the number of jobs to be created. ‘We owe it to our people to make the bold commitments on job creation. We remain convinced that 100,000 in 12 months is possible. If you find this target unattainable, please come forward and state the BDP target.”
He told the BDP Government that they will support them in the target they set for themselves, but not having a target is not acceptable and demonstrates lack of commitment to job creation. In the UDC held constituencies, he promised that the Constituency Development Funds will be strategically used to focus on labour intensive projects.
The Maun West MP continued: “there is also a need to have an annual target of repatriating the jobs that Botswana has exported. Our raw materials have been used to create jobs in foreign countries whilst our people remain unemployed. We need to move up the value chain and process our raw materials.”
We will demonstrate through parliamentary questions and motions that a living wage of P 3,000.00 a month is possible within the coming 3 financial years, the former Gaborone Central law maker highlighted, adding that an upper middle-income country should not be anchored on an impoverished workforce. “Likewise, the Old Age Pension of P 1,500.00 will be fully justified to all within the coming 12 months. Failure to increase the Old Age Pension should not be understood to be due to lack of financial capacity.
We will be demanding for government expenditure to be refocused on assisting citizen owned small and medium sized businesses,’’ he also highlighted. The UDC Vice President also expressed their support for the decision to review the constitution and declaring that they will actively participate in the process. “Chief among our proposals will be a non- discriminatory constitution, a constitution that protects socio-economic rights and oversight institutions,” he pointed out in his response to SONA.
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.