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Dikgosi agree to split the Central District

In a twist of events, the Ntlo Ya Dikgosi has this week unanimously agreed to split the gigantic Central District Council in Gamma-Ngwato territory.

The house passed the motion which was brought by the controversial Tswapong region’s Kgosi Galeakanye Modise who out rightly called for the creation of a new District in the Central region thereby splitting the area. This comes after the Central District has become a hot potato political subject in which some supporting Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi in the power struggle against ex-president Lt Gen Ian Khama has called for its split.

They observe that the split will neutralise the power in the party between the north and side divide of the country. Central District is the heartland of Bangwato who are led by Masisi’s rival and predecessor, Kgosi Ian Khama. The BDP has been seen as more powerful and strong in the Central District with more than 15 constituencies having been won uninterrupted by the BDP since first national elections in 1965.

Khama has solidified his presence in the territory and it appears to be seen how the BDP will fare in the area after Khama quit it and de-campaigned it in the area in support of newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). The move has led to an interesting twists in the power struggle between the two strongmen as Dikgosi agreed to create the new District in the Central territory. They moved read “that this honourable house requests government to create a new District Council called Tswapong in order to provide good service delivery to many disadvantage people living in the area.”

When debating the motion the one-of-a-kind Specially Elected member of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, Kgosi Thabo Maruje III of Masunga reminded government that if government doesn’t make such reforms (splitting Central District) there will be very serious consequences. “Ultimately every government doesn’t listen to her people, there will be chaos,” he stressed out on the Ntlo Ya Dikgosi debating floor while adding that “so, this motion, to split CDC, is coming at the right time and it will be a model for the rest of the country.”

Kgosi Maruje pointed out that he believes going into the 2019 general elections, such matters should be topical especially as Batswana are more informed now. “If government continues with the idea that somebody should be like this and that one should not be like that is a problem,” he said when debating the Central District motion. Let’s agree that we don’t want anybody stripped off what deserves to them, but again, we need to give others what it’s rightfully theirs and deserve it, he said.

He continued: I believe our government has always been the driver of this national polarisation and this tribalism because government has never detached itself from this at any point in time. After 50 years, Maruje said, if you look at all this polarisation and tribalisation, it is now the source of discontentment today and will divide the country. “For years, tribal issues has been politicised. We have politicised tribal matters without giving due regard of giving Dikgosi space and chance to sit down and ponder on issues affecting them and how they can be solved.”

My plea is that, Kgosi Maruje said, the government should not look at these things from a skewed perspective as Botswana is different now and that the country is going through the winds of change. He emphasised to the members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi that there should be a model on how the country should resuscitate the people’s identity, to give them more power as is the cased with Central District motion.

“I believe therefore that district headquarters in all sub districts, not only in Central District as we also have the same issue in Good Hope, Tlokweng, Nata, Tswapong and others, so I think as the mover of the motion has stated this should be uphold. We can start with splitting Central District,” he said.

On his part, Kgosi Rapelang Khuwe of Tutume region also agreed with the motion citing thsat when the resources and budgets of the sub districts at Central District, are only done at Serowe and then sent to the sub districts, it puts the ordinary people on the disadvantage.
“Developments become slow, they reach the people very late owing to this long process. It means some Batswana become beggars to others who have more power on resources like it’s the case with CDC. This is notwithstanding that the constitution prescribe that we should be equal,” he pointed out.

Kgosi Khuwe said the government should review their current plan to create more sub districts but rather create a fully-fledged district in Tswapong away from the Central District. He added: “this will help the cry from disadvantaged Batswana from those areas. You should make Tswapong District rather than sub district and that maybe 2 or 3 fully fledged Districts in the CDC will help in service delivery.” According to Khuwe, when the government is bringing more sub districts in one districts as they adamantly intents to do in Central District, his assessment is that it’s even more expensive to tax payers as is currently now.

He explained that if one sub district is being created in Nata, one in Sebina, why so when there is still sub district of Tutume, why not turn the Tutume one into full District than spending the money recklessly with more sub districts. He added that the same goes to Tswapong, in that if the government wants to form a sub district there, they should just turn Palapye into a fully fledge District dividing it from the vast Central District. When responding to the motion, the Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Botlogile Tshireletso poured cold water on the motion saying it is not in government’s plans.

“At this time we don’t have plans to make Tswapong sub district a fully fledge district,” he stressed. But of course, she added that the mover of the motion has a point. However, Tshireletso said what government intends to do at this stage, is to create a sub districts at Sefhare and Lerala in the Central District. The sub district as you know is like a younger brother to the big district which is Central District here, she said. Kgosi Modise, subsequent to the Minister’s response, then took a swipe at the Assistant Minister and the government reminding them that all Batswana are and should be equal.

“God created us all equal and so we are all equal before the lord. But unfortunately, it appears like someone who is not thinking of doing something to someone, they feel that the person in question has therefore no right of pursuing such cause,” he lashed out. He observed that government should introspect and see if it is still relevant today to think that others may be inferior as opposed to others and that some people don’t deserve other facilities or services like others. “This will bring this country into chaos,” he said.

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Jackdish Shah loses interest in BDP

17th May 2022
Jackdish

As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.

According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.

According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.

“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.

BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.

Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.

Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.

BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.

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Govt ignores own agreements to improve public service

17th May 2022
Govt

The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.

Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.

In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made.
“Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.

Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25

They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.

In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations.  The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.

The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.

The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.

The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public
“Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.

Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.

The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.

“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).

The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.

Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.

A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service.
Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.

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Health Expert rejects ‘death rates’ links to low population growth

17th May 2022
Health-Expert

A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.

He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.

Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.

Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates.
“The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.

This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.

That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”

Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.

“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.

The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.

According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu

For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”

The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.

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