Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development Tshekedi Khama has reported fellow cabinet member, Dorcas Makgato to the party’s Central Committee over the latter’s latest controversial remarks, but he was overruled by President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who said it was not a Central Committee issue.
It is understood that Tshekedi reported the matter to President Masisi during the Central Committee meeting last week in which the trio sits. Makgato is Women’s Wing Chairperson while Tshekedi is an Additional Member in the party’s highest decision making committee. “TK went to the Central Committee and tried to make this matter a Central Committee issue but the president said it is not. Go and talk to her to ask her and that you don’t need to attack her. Were you referring to my dad? No. Full stop,” Makgato told Weekend Post in an interview this week.
To me, Makgato explained that there is no clarity, as it is a non-issue because Tshekedi had wanted to ask her if she was referring to his father at the political rally in Chadibe. At the provocative rally Makgato had stated that someone brought strict alcohol policies and imposed solely because his died due alcohol related complications. She did not however reveal the name at the rally, but it is understood that she was referring to Tshekedi’s father, Sir Seretse Khama, who is the founding father of BDP.
“Masisi said he should ask me and if we experience a problem, we should go back to him,” Makgato charged further highlighting that “but I told him that no, I was not referring to your father.” She justified that because the Khamas have a propaganda agenda against her, they have decided to put the words she didn’t utter into her mouth.
“I don’t like speculating about people and whether TK is doing all this as an excuse to leave BDP for BPF, but am suspicious why they put words on me to tarnish my image. You cannot go to my constituency and talk about developments or my manners as you lose the game. So the only strategy remaining is propaganda campaign,” she pointed out to this publication.
Makgato continued: “I am even also aware that they donated some ipads to some constituents; others given P60 each; they have been sent to de-campaign me. My time will come to speak out. Even the other who face an issue of raping a minor which is kept a secret will be exposed. The other one stole petrol. I know these things. Bring the commission of inquiry that is where I will speak.”
The non-conformist Minister asserted that she had sit down, and thought through what she is doing and prayed about it. “I have decided to do this because when history judges me, when our grandchild ask us what did you do when our democracy was under attack I must give proper answers and be able to stand up and show that what I did and said was to try and restore our democracy before it gets out of hand as it seems destined to,” she said.
“I want to be counted as some of those who stood up. The consequences of which I am so ready for. Even if it means the constituency going against me and doesn’t vote for me at the next polls; that’s okay with Dorcas. Even if it’s a case of standing with me, and showing me love and support, which is what I expect, for being able to stand for the truth I will be happy with that. So I am ready for anything,”
My story has been very consistent, she said highlighting that, let me tell you the un-consistency of the story of the founder and patron of BPF: he said Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe do not want to vacate office, and wrote an open letter, who now wants to come back to rule or trying to influence the presidency? The founder and patron of BPF.
She continued to ask: who went to my constituents to say am intelligent, hard worker and great performer, backed up by my performance in every Ministry, and in the Private sector because I have excelled. “Now he says am dishonest, that’s inconsistency.” According to Makgato, you cannot go around and tell people to go with you as you change like weather depending on what suits you at a particular time.
“It’s called taking people for granted. So you decide what happens in Botswana, alone? We are not subjects. And there is no way in my life I can allow that. If it means this is what I have to die for I am so ready for that I will die in peace.” “People told me that there was a meeting discussing me; they said there will be a smear campaign against me; that people will be told that I am a drunkard; am a thief and am a witch. And if you clearly believe I sell the ARV’s show me the evidence. I don’t. I only sell tomatoes and green peppers.”
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.