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Masisi lifts BDP

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has won the country’s 12th general election with a resounding margin. The party has ruled the country since its independence in 1966. The win gives President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi a five year term to implement the BDP’s manifesto which promises among other things, growing the economy to create jobs, and effect a constitutional review.

The BDP won 38 seats out of a possible 57 seats, giving it 66.66% of the vote. The main opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), led by Advocate Duma Boko, only managed to garner 15 seats, while the former president Dr Ian Khama-backed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), led by Biggie Butale gained 3 seats, and Ndaba Gaolathe’s Alliance of Progressives (AP) won one seat. In 2014 the BDP won 37 seats and the popular vote stood at about 47%, it has certainly gone up this year.

The BDP white washed the opposition in southern constituencies which include all the five in Gaborone, two Mochudi constituencies, Ramotswa, Tlokweng, two Kanye constituencies, Mogoditshane, two Molepolole constituencies, Goodhope-Mabule, Mathethe-Molapowabojang, Lobatse, Gabane-Mankgodi, Moshupa-Manyana, Lentsweletau-Mmopane, Jwaneng-Mabutsane and Thamaga. The BDP dominance also stretched to the Western part of the country where it won both Kgalagadi constituencies, as well as Takatokwane and Letlhakeng-Lephephe.

The wave of red in the south was influenced by President Masisi who took over the leadership of the ruling party 18 months ago. Many observers are of the view that the victory demonstrates the confidence the voters have on President Masisi to turn around the fortunes of the country after reports of widespread corruption and a non-responsive government. Masisi has vowed to deal with corruption, enforce rule of law, address poverty and unemployment among some of his key themes.  

Also key in this election was the feud between President Masisi and his predecessor, Dr Ian Khama, who had made it his personal mission to unseat Masisi. This in the view of many earned Masisi substantial sympathy votes and they gave him a fresh mandate to lead the country for the next five years.  The instructive win gives the BDP, which has been in power for 53 years, a chance to implement major constitutional, economic and developmental changes which President Masisi has promised will “change Botswana for the better, and propel it on a new growth path”.

Ever since President Masisi took over the party, there has been a consistent message of ‘the re-birth of the BDP’ and it is evident from the results that voters have been attracted to the new BDP hence they rejected the opposition alternative that promised to deliver 100 000 in 12 months, P3000 minimum wage, P1500 old age pension and P2500 tertiary students allowance among other goodies. President Masisi has resisted calls for him to set targets for himself during the election campaign trail.  

The BDP’s big jump in popular vote is ascribed to the decision by the leader of the UDC, Duma Boko to associate himself with the former President, Dr Ian Khama who was very unpopular in urban centres and most areas with close proximity to the capital city Gaborone. The BDP scored huge victories in all these areas. On the flip though the Khama influence was evident in the central district where his BPF managed to win 3 Serowe constituencies and further hurt the chances of the BDP in Palapye, Mahalapye East and Mahalapye West, Bobonong, Shoshong and Tonota constituencies.

This is what President Masisi said as it appears on the BDP’s social media page, “Batswana, thank you for voting BDP! I am humbled and honoured that you again entrusted the BDP with your confidence and mandate to uplift the lives of our people and to strengthen our country. As the President of Botswana for the next five years, I am blessed and privileged to serve you and I promise you that I will continue to do so with integrity, compassion, humility and honesty.

“When we created our 15-point manifesto more than a year ago, it was in consultation with you to discuss your fears and concerns but more so your hopes and dreams. Our manifesto addresses all your concerns in a sensible, practical and efficient manner that takes into account our current economic conditions but also considers future economic development and prosperity. I can assure you that my team and I are unabated in our commitment to you and will work relentlessly to ensure that every goal listed in our declaration is achieved and importantly, that you attain financial freedom,” President Masisi said of the BDP’s victory.

 “The BDP-led government will lead the country on a renewed path of economic transformation and create jobs that will roll back the scourge of poverty, through various initiatives as outlined in our growth strategy, which will focus on increasing employment opportunities and creating suitable jobs for our young people, particularly our graduates,” he continued. He further appealed to opposition leaders to accept the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) decision which clearly saw the BDP as the nation’s preferred political party of choice.

“As the Leader of State, I appeal to the opposition leaders and their supporters to accept the BIEC ruling and to bear in mind that Botswana is a peaceful, non-violent, respectful and humble nation and that political interference to change our culture for political gain will not be tolerated,” President Masisi added. “I appreciate that it is vital for any country to have strong political opposition to ensure the ruling party is kept on its toes to that ensure that Botswana and her people are always government’s main priority. Under my leadership, I appeal to government, as a multi-party collective, to play a far greater role in supporting, developing and uplifting Batswana. By putting our people first, Botswana will soon claim its rightful position as the gem of Africa,” concluded President Masisi.

The BDP manifesto, which will continue to be seen as a blueprint for Botswana’s development, includes: Creating meaningful and sustainable jobs; Fighting corruption; Nurturing inclusive government; Guaranteeing free media; Reviewing our constitution and policies; Improving education and training; Driving knowledge-based economy; Growing the private sector; Empowering SMEs; Updating land tenure laws; Improving working conditions; Ensuring robust services delivery; Providing quality healthcare; Revamping social development; and Attracting local and international investors.

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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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