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Bakgatla pressurize Masisi to recognize Kgafela

Bakgatla tribesmen are at loggerheads over meeting President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi about the prospects of him dropping the government’s 2011 Kgosi Kgafela II de-recognition order by the then Local Government Minister Lebonaamang Mokalake.

For some time now since Masisi ascended to the presidency, the issue has been discussed in various meetings by the tribal leadership with Kgafela’s Mangana regiment at the forefront. Reports say the tribe became deeply divided, with some strongly advocating for the meeting while others (Mangana regiment) believed Masisi should come to their own backyard in Mochudi to dialogue on a number of issues besieging them and the tribal leadership.

The tribe want Kgafela’s de-recognition order to be dropped and they believe Masisi is the only man who can do that. This is fuelled by his recent and consistent remarks that he will do everything to ensure that Kgafela returns home. In a leaked audio, Masisi who was addressing the BDP parliamentary candidates retreat workshop in May was heard saying a lot of tribal leaders were unhappy with the past administration, an anomaly that will be a priority on his agenda.

“A lot of tribal leaders were also unhappy with us. The other even went to an extent of dumping Botswana for South Africa, Kgafela of Bakgatla. And we know very well that our country is not complete without our tribal leaders. We must accept this reality,” Masisi is heard saying in the clip to thunderous applause from his audience. “I will not rest until Kgafela is back home. I will not, I will not,” he added.

Fortnight ago when officially opening the 38th BDP congress in Mochudi, Masisi again reiterated the statement.  "Mmusi Kgafela is from the royal family and it shows that as the BDP we respect the institution of Bogosi. And as BDP we will do everything to ensure that his brother is backing home. I mean his real home. I will do everything to ensure that he enjoys the warmness of his home. Home I mean here,” Masisi said.

Mangana regiment’s Matshwenyego Ramotswetla has confirmed to this publication that they have pondered on the matter but never reached a consensus. “Since Masisi assumed office there has been talks about that but we were divided because others wanted us to meet Masisi but we didn’t agree to that because he was still new,” said Ramotswetla.

 “At a time when we thought we could do so, then President faced a challenge in which he had a feud with his successor and we thought let us leave until it is resolved, until now. There is nothing concrete for now. “The fact of the matter was to discuss the de-recognition order and dropping of charges that Kgabo is facing,” he said.This week Kgafela’s brother who is also contesting the elections under the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for Mochudi West, Mmusi Kgafela also confirmed.

 “I have personally met and asked Masisi to drop the de-recognition order, but he told me that in  his government sedibeng go iwa ka tsela saying that during his time as VP this issue was not on his portfolio. He even advised me to go seek audience with the then Minister of Local government Pelonomi Venso-Moitoi of which we never had a chance to discuss the matter until he was removed from cabinet,” he said in an interview this week.

Mmusi added that in the past they have privately met former president Ian Khama to set aside the de-recognition order. “But he said he couldn’t allow for that because Kgafela has a South African ID which I’ am not sure about because the last time I engaged him (Kgosi) was in pursuit of it but remember Nyalala Pilane did everything to obstruct it.” Regarding the possibilities of dropping flogging charges facing Kgafela, Mmusi said he has never put it before Masisi.

“It would be too much for President because we have independent arms of government and it would seem as interference from the top. But maybe opposition could have had interest on the matter.” Another Mangana regiment member who preferred anonymity said there is no reason to meet Masisi and talk about that because he has never taken the issue seriously.

“We once confronted him about the matter in Moshupa when Kgosi Mosielele invited us to a cultural ceremony but instead he dismissed us saying our attire is anti-system. So how do you talk to that kind of a leader who divert issues,” said the member on Wednesday afternoon.
Bakgatla will have to wait for Masisi to convene a Kgotla meeting in Mochudi so that they could seriously deliberate on the matter.

KGAFELA WILL NOT GRACE MY LAUNCH – MMUSI   

Speaking about his relationship with his brother, Mmusi says the relationship is okay but one thing for a fact is they don’t talk politics. “I don’t whether he will come, but wisdom lies on the organising committee. Invitations will be dished on the purpose of support. So how would I justify Kgafela’s presence? If he comes, he should do it voluntarily,” said Mmusi.

 “The thing is, if he comes he will be obliged to also do the same to others. He will rather come after I win. It will be justified to call him then as activities will not be party based but communal and inclusive.” Mmusi was to be launched today (August 3rd) but the event has been moved to the 14th of next month in Mochudi.

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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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