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BDP insulted my father – Khama

Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has expressed regret that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leadership has resolved to keep quiet when his father, Sir Seretse Khama — who is the founder of the party — was ‘insulted’.

Responding to some comments that were uttered by Sefhare- Ramokgonami Member of Parliament (MP) Dorcas Makgato at Chadibe village during a political party rally recently, Khama said they are angry as a family and disappointed in someone of Makgato’s position to insult their parents.  “At the moment I can understand TK’s [Tshekedi Khama] frustrations. We are all angry, Makgato was just not insulting my father, my father was one of the founders of the BDP and first President of the BDP, and so he never left the BDP,” Khama told WeekendPost on Thursday.

“This goes even beyond the BDP. When you visit other countries my father tend to be held in high esteem and clearly this woman does not feel the same way.” Khama continued: “She said what she said wearing BDP colours, at a BDP press conference, as a BDP Chairperson of the BDP Women’s Wing and a minister in the BDP government. So she was actually speaking on behalf of the BDP when she said that.”

The former President, who left the ruling party in May this year, said if Makgato’s views do not represent the party, why it is that no one is coming out to condemn or correct what she said.  He said instead what they did, they made Tsholetsa House available for her and the Secretary General to continue to regurgitate the same thing she said at Chadibe. He said the party did not try to correct or distance itself from her in fact they endorsed what she said. He said the fact that BDP are quite about it is proof that they said about his father.

“So TK’s anger is born under the fact that Makgato is a colleague, they are both in the Central Committee, both in cabinet and a fellow colleague insult your parents, it is not nice”. Makgato came under spotlight after a video of her addressing a rally in Chadibe, a village in her constituency went viral on social media.  In context, the minister seems to be attacking the founding President of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama who is the father to former President Khama and Minster of Youth, Sports Empowerment and Culture Development Tshekedi Khama.

 “I personally admit I did not listen to the video or watch it because I do not think I should justify its existence by doing so but certainly other people who did said to me categorically, they knew she was referring to my father. So for her to try and distance herself from that is actually disingenuous. She was referring to him [Seretse Khama], that’s a fact”.  Khama attributes Makgato’s behaviour to be emanating from the fact that he is facing defeat in the coming general elections.

He said when a politician is facing an inevitable defeat, they will react in different ways. He said some will be quite mature and say “you win some you lose some,” and that others will react with anger and frustration because they are not able to come to terms with the facts.
“I think this whole saga around her is precisely because of that. She knows that her defeat at the elections is inevitable.”

Khama took a step aback to describe Makgato’s relationship with Masisi as bad blood during his tenure as President of the country, with the two becoming a regular at his office because of their internal fights. Khama said the whole Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) press conference was designed to discredit him.

“The only thing that I urged her to do towards the end of my term in office is when she was coming to me to complain about Masisi and the fact that he is interfering in her constituency and that he has picked somebody to stand against her during primary elections,” he said.
“I called Masisi and told him what Makgato said but he denied it. She was so angry about Masisi, she kept on telling me that it was a mistake making Masisi my Vice President. There is bad blood between the two of them. She was not the only one complaining, a number of ministers came to see me. I then called a special cabinet retreat for two days to try to sort out the matter”.

Khama dismissed Makgato’s submissions that he owned a considerable amount of land saying he only inherited the land back in 1980. “I have not taken more land since then, I have not added to it and I have not applied to any land in that area” he said. Khama also said the spring water that he has been using to water his farm has since dried up, hence he drilled a borehole. He said when the spring was still running he used to provide people of Borotsi with water and that what Makgato is saying is totally untrue.

Khama also denied allegations that the water from the open water reservoir is not baboon infested.  “She is telling lies once again. As a Member of Parliament for that area she has never raised those concerns with me”.  The former President continue to say at the time while he was at BDP, he was still Kgosikgolo of Bangwato and they never complained when he went around the country campaigning for the BDP.

“I have always been a Kgosikgolo, at the moment I cannot be viewed as active in politics because I hold no political office. The difference between me and him is that we as Dikgosi we don’t insult people like she does. That is the reality, I know she does not like it but she can never take it away from me.” The former President said he will be consulting with the constituents at Serowe West to consult and persuade them to allow him to join the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF).


Khama said BDP’s lack of response to what Makgato said, have actually made his task easy to convince his people why he should leave the BDP. “I am going to use this as another reason why [Tshekedi should leave BDP], they have already told me they are very upset about what Makgato said. I am still delaying because they are now scoring own goals and they are helping me a lot,” he said. Tshekedi Khama remains one of the few BDP MP candidates that have not been launched to date even though elections are expected in less than a month now.

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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