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BDP MPs opposed Skelemani choice

A score of newly elected Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) had planned to lobby for the appointment of former Gaborone South Member of Parliament as the Speaker of the National Assembly, but developed cold feet when President Mokgweetsi Masisi put forward the name of former Attorney General, Phandu Skelemani.

While the ruling party MPs were aware that Masisi had decided on Skelemani for speakership, they were determined to convince Masisi to instead deploy Skelamani to lead their envisaged Drafting Office under the ambit of Parliament, with Molatlhegi taking over the reins as the Speaker of the National Assembly. Despite this is a view which is enjoying support from a considerable number of MPs, including those in the opposition. MPs went quiet when Masisi tabled the name of the former Cabinet Minister for election.

Skelemani was elected by all the 38 ruling party members. “MPs were of the view that Skelemani could be resourceful, given his career in law, in the Drafting Office, a post which could have been more lucrative and paying even better than the Speakership,” a source told this publication. “For speakership we wanted Molatlhegi. We believed he was the right person to drive the reforms that we seek, and also of the opinion that this position would be demanding for someone of Skelemani’s age.”

The legislators had thought that under the new administration things would pan out differently and their proposals will be considered but after Masisi prevailed with his choice, they fear reforms may not even take place. If legislators had their way, this Parliament was to have its own vast secretariat made of different departments that were to make the legislature very efficient.

MPs agree that they need the guidance of experts such as economists, lawyers, technologist and others. This is because MP elected officials are expected to regulate highly specialised areas of which they have little understanding. Legislators should have people in their staff who understand other areas, MPs contend. It is from this point that Skelemani was tipped to head the law drafting office and not speakership.  “The idea was he is wise, he has been in the law fraternity for long and his experience was going to come in handy. He is old and obviously does not have the energy that comes with the role he is given,” said the source.

The MPs want take a leaf from United States, which has various units created specifically for helping the Congress [US law making body] to legislate effectively. The US has agencies like; Congressional Budget Office (CBO); Congressional Research Service (CRS) and The Office of Legislative Counsel, which are all non-partisan.  The units have a staff of approximately 600 employees amongst them lawyers, economists, reference librarians, and social, natural, and physical scientists. The units aid the congress in bill drafting, research and budget analysis. 

These units are credited with making the US congress more efficient and it is the arrangement which MPs want for Botswana’s parliament. Speaking at the just ended MPs orientation workshop in Kasane, the new Leader of Opposition and also Maun West MP Dumelang Saleshando, said more than a decade has passed since the issue was first discussed but to this day nothing has changed. “I will be engaging the Speaker and hope he will also understand that as the head of the legislature the buck stops with him,” he said.

“We want Parliament to have its own staff and budget. It is a pity that Parliament budget is drafted under the Ministry of Presidential Affairs,” MP Mephato Reatile was quoted saying. The Botswana Parliament is created by Section 57 of the Constitution and it is composed of the President and the National Assembly.  The role of Parliament is to make laws as stipulated in Section 86 of the Constitution, which states that: ‘Parliament shall have the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Botswana.’ In this way it means Parliament exercises legislative powers as one of its core mandates. In addition, Parliament performs functions such as representation, and oversight.

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

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 reaching WeekendPost 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 publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as 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,” 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.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

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.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

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.

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