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Khama/Masisi dispute “needs” a Presidential Museum

The ongoing feud between the former President Ian Khama and incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi needs a presidential museum for documentation to act as a reference point for the future and to see who went off the rails.

This was revealed by members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi this week in Gaborone during their just ended 3rd session of the14th meeting of the House. When presenting the motion, which eventually was passed, specially elected member of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, Kgosi Thabo Maruje III of Masunga said that the dispute between Khama and Masisi is largely owing to the deficit of a presidential museum which should define dialogue.

“A presidential museum will define dialogue. Currently there is a hot dialogue in which people have divergent views (between Masisi and Khama). This is largely because we have a deficiency of a process where anytime we can declassify material which is outdated,” Kgosi Maruje observed. To add onto Kgosi Maruje’s sentiment, Tswapong Region's Kgosi Galeakanye Modise said the presidential museum is essential and surely could be providing an answer to the current disagreement between Khama and Masisi.

“But if there is a process that is well packaged, even the dispute between Masisi and Khama that is happening now, that presidential museum could provide an answer,” Kgosi Modise pointed out while stressing that “it could provide clear references for the dispute.” According to Kgosi Maruje, if this nation can undergo through such a crisis, the nation will hold dikgosi accountable in terms of where they were during such current crisis like that of Masisi and Khama.

Kgosi Maruje’s motion read “that this honourable house requests government to set up a presidential museum which will not only house all matters that have been declassified but also be used as a depository for very important moments in the life of a president, and the decisions they made which will boost researchers, media and the nation at large.”

The nature of the Botswana presidential museum

Kgosi Maruje III of Masunga emphasized during the tabling of the motion that he came up with this motion because Botswana is growing, and so what can do to document every error by every president. “We have to start now as the number of president is evidently increasing. This means that for us not to lose history, time has come for us to erect a very big infrastructure, of a presidential museum which I envision it to be a combination of an integrated facility that will include tourism, research, restaurants, and all the things you can imagine,” he stated.

Maruje said he was looking at the history of Botswana, as Botswana is changing it must have a cardinal point, to show how Botswana is changing, and how the events are linking up. He added that: “repositories of papers, historical moments, irreplaceable items, that the president receives as certain gifts, that are very profound, that even when he dies, relatives doesn’t want to do with these things. They can be taken to the museum to be national monuments. Or the government can pay the families so that he can custody of those crucial items.”

Starting with the founding father Sir Seretse Khama; in terms of those who saw him, lived with him, will tell us how he was; those who knew him and have written about him, from the time of Frontline States to the setting of Organisations of African Union (OAU). He added: “even the time of his controversial marriage with an English woman Ruth Williams against his uncles like Tshekedi Khama can be documented in the museum as well as how he, together with Sir Ketumile Masire, started the multi-party democracy in Botswana.”

The specially elected Kgosi also said the Museum will be also like a library in that, the museum will put together the lives of all Botswana presidents; from the 1st President Khama, 2nd Sir Ketumile Masire, and Festus Mogae who was the third, and Ian Khama the fourth as well as the current President Masisi.

According to Maruje, it also has to come out clear which ideologue is every president following, in running the affairs of the country, or his thinking or ideologues, in terms of is it exclusively his or he learned and probably borrowed it from a predecessor. “This things guide a country.” “The other thing is the culture. Culture we live in is dynamic but how are we using our history for the coming or future presidents to refer to? So that they don’t go off the rails in terms of the presidency? It means how a president has been running the country in terms of the relations, the law, the developments and so forth.”  

In addition Botswana is generally poor in keeping records. For example, Maruje asked how they are keeping the records on appointing dikgosi and where, and who are the custodians and are they easily accessible to everyone? Can someone pull a paper to provide evidence in many bogosi disputes that have engulfed this country? He asked rhetorically.

By this time, Maruje said he believes the presidency of Sir Seretse Khama and Sir Ketumile Masire, and the presidency to some part of Festus Mogae, there could be some things that could have been declassified at this point to distinguish between the presidents.
According to Kgosi Maruje, Botswana has historical facts that can be packaged and sold as an intervention of leadership somewhere else.

“We will tell other countries that, this is the package of leadership over the years. Through the medium, we will know who was advising either of the presidents; to see how he was taking his decisions; what was happening; what were their challenges and low moments; when was he happy and under what circumstance; how did all these influence the decisions he takes concerning the affairs of the country and so forth.”

The Specially Elected Kgosi said Botswana today has the 5th president being Mokgweetsi Masisi and this is a blessing indeed because in other countries they have known only one president for decades and others undergoing coup de tat. “If you look at the history of the US, who are on their 45th president, if you look at how their presidencies are well documented, and meaning behind every presidential detail, and even every error committed by every one of them – it’s so beautiful,” he said.

Maruje reminisced about a very profound one president of America: the journey he took leading him to the presidency of US. “Many failures that he encountered for many years. He failed at many things but he never gave up, until that one moment in which he tried again and ultimately became the president. That person is Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US president. You see these it is through such records that are there that guides a nation.” The other thing, Maruje said it is leadership experience of a leader being a leader; how does it guide. We need to go back to leadership experience to see in the event of a crisis, who the president consults, and when, he concluded.

Botswana presidents can be a reference point in good governance

Meanwhile Kgosi Galeakanye Modise of Tswapong region who supports the motion said he believes Botswana if unchecked stands a chance to lose the national historical moments. “We can even guide Africa. So that when they have problems they can refer to Botswana. In terms of good governance and democracy benchmarking they can go to Botswana. You will find a package there, through the presidential museum for all that,” he said.

Kgosi Modise also added that he remembers somewhere students arguing about a presidential/national issue in which they had nowhere to refer to so as to settle their disagreement. When Mogae received the Mo Ibrahim award he didn’t know where to put it because there is no presidential museum for such honours on a president, he said.  

Museum will reveal which president derails from the foundation in which the country was built on

Supporting the motion, Kgosi Tshipe Tshipe of Mahalapye region added that the presidential museum will define clearly the ideologies of all the presidents. “My believe is that they will unearth where Botswana comes from starting with Sir Seretse where democracy will be revealed in light of the fact that it was built from a traditional Tswana kgotla system which truly defines the true essence of Batswana,” he highlighted.

So this documentation, he observed that could assist the researchers and everyone to point out when a president derails from the foundation in which the country was built on. “In terms of which president derailed. Those who come after the current ones, could therefore use the road map to bring the country to rails, of which it was known for. I also like the advisors to the president part, which is very important. We need to know which advisors helped the president at every move. When we derailed who helped to bring the country back.”  

According to Tshipe, history of US shows that during the height of Civil rights activism by Martin Luther King Jr., it took a long time for the US to see a black president thereafter. “But when Barack Obama took power as US president, and when you pay closer attention to what he said, he could see that he adopted Luther’s ideologue. Luther guided Obama. What Luther fought for, to see justice to the blacks, was evident in Obama and what he also frequently spoke of,” he said.

In her answer to the motion, Assistant Minister of local Government and Rural Development Botlogile Tshireletso said the concept of a presidential museum is an accepted norm and standard in the world. In principle, she said “as government we agree with the motion and its intent but the motion’s intent is also covered by the Botswana National Archives and Records Services Act.” He however added that he will also take into consideration issues raised by Kgosi Masunga and seconders of his motion so that the Minister can act and see to it that if there is need for amendments of the Act, to consider their views as there are important.

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Gov’t has no budget for Magosi’s SADC chase

12th April 2021
Elias Magosi

Despite the government of Botswana’s ambition to have one of its own to lead Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) since its establishment in 1980, the Presidency says there is no budget specifically dedicated to the campaign.

The Government has released the name of Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Mpedi Magosi, as the candidate for the SADC Executive Secretary position. Magosi is expected to face off with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) candidate, Faustin Mukela. The position will become vacant in August this year.

However, despite the optimism the Botswana Government has not yet set aside a budget to assist Magosi to win against the seemingly DRC giant. “We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the country’s ability to effectively fund any new project. This campaign is not an exception. As such, we do not have any budget for the campaign. However, we have so far managed to take advantage of His Excellency the President’s working visits to the neighbouring countries to also carry out the campaigns,” Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang, explained.

Botswana has housed SADC since the establishment of the then SADCC in 1980, but has never occupied top most leadership positions at the SADC Secretariat.  “We therefore, strongly believe that we should also have an opportunity to contribute to the management of our regional body as it continues to drive the important issues of regional integration industrialization and socio-economic development.

This will also profile Botswana as a strong advocate of regional integration,” he responded to this publication’s questionnaire as to why the Government wants to occupy the plum post. SADC is a Member State driven organization. As such, Leagajang said, needs a well-grounded Executive Secretary with a blend of management and leadership acumen; a transformational leader with political awareness and integrity; private and public sector experience; a deep culture of corporate governance; as well as strategic agility and result-oriented consummate diplomat.

“These are the unique attributes of our candidate,” he said. So far President Mokgweetsi Masisi has visited nine out of 16 SADC member states on a working visit and also taking an opportunity to present to them his candidate.

“The countries have appreciated this effort and we remain hopeful. However, it is important to note that this is a democratic and competitive process which must be respected,” he responded when asked about the reception and assurances from various countries to cast a vote for Magosi.

In 2018, when Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi challenged for the Africa Union (AU) Chairperson, the government appointed former President Festus Mogae to be the campaign leader. Does the Government have anyone apart from Masisi to help with the campaign?

“The campaigns for the candidate are strictly led by the Government of Botswana. Since this is a candidate for Botswana, not just the Government, it will be appreciated if all Batswana, including the media, could also shoulder the responsibility to campaign for the candidate in their own spheres of influence,” Leagajang responded.

While there are sceptics on Magosi winning against the DRC man, the Government is confident and believes that with the unique traits that he possess, Magosi stands a chance. He is said to be a strong advocate of justice and fairness as he has played this role in his current role as PSP and in his previous roles as PS and in the private sector. He has helped individuals and companies to find justice and fairness in most of their dealings with Government.

Magosi is also said to be a proponent of corporate governance and which he has relentlessly pursued in most of his career including in Government and other sectors. A strong believer in following laid down procedures and laws. “He carries a variety of skills as an HR expert with experience in different sectors, a strategist and an Organization development specialist.

His experience and exposure spans government, parastatal, private sector and at regional level as well, thus making him a suitable candidate for the regional role. He has worked with governments, businesses, development partners and politicians and is comfortable navigating through all of them,” Leagajang concluded.

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Mzwinila’s P4.3 Billion gamble to keep water flowing

12th April 2021
orth-South-Carrier

The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila looked a politician set to shoot the moon as he laid bare his billions of pula development agenda recently in Parliament.

His Ministry’s combined Recurrent and Development Budget Proposals for the 2021/ 2022 Financial Year is pegged at Four Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty – Five Million, two Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P4, 365, 219, 560). This is a budget 38.3% more than the allocation for the 2020/2021 Financial Year.

Mzwinila preluded his request to parliament with a demonstration that his Ministry has no champagne taste on a beer budget – indicating that his ministry’s expenditure at the end of February 2021P2.111 Billion or 96% of development budget; and P910 million or 90% of the recurrent budget.

Notwithstanding the budget dust, the Minister justified this year’s increase in the Ministry’s total budget. He attributed the escalation to the commencement of major projects under the water sector. These include the implementation of the North South Carrier (NSC) 22.2 covering various sub projects. Mzwinila noted that these are all public value projects which are aimed at improving the lives of Batswana.

Mzwinila’s Ministry has projected that the sum of Nine Hundred and Sixty –Three Million, Nine Hundred and Forty – Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P963, 947, 560) be permitted for the Recurrent Budget and stand part of the 2021 / 2022 Appropriation Bill ( No. 1 of 2021).

“55% of the Recurrent Budget is geared towards the Revenue Support Grant for 12 Land Boards and their subordinate authorities while the sum of P5 Million is allocated to the Real Estate Advisory Council (REAC). The remaining 44% is proposed for the Ministry Departments.”

The sum of Three Billion, Four Hundred and One Million, Two hundred and Seventy –Two Thousand Pula (P3, 401, 272, 000), for the Development Budget was approved and stand part of the same schedule of the appropriation (2021/2022).

When breaking down the Development Budget, Minister Mzwinila noted that Water Supply and Sanitation projects will account for P1.098 Billion to finance the Maun Water and Sanitation project, Molepolole Sanitation projects and the Shakawe Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation.

With all the implementation bottlenecks troubling several projects in the country, Mzwinila had to satisfy the question of whether his Ministry demonstrated a dire need for the budget with reference to its execution of the budget for the financial year 2020/2021 and its delivery of strategic initiatives and projects?

Mzwinila’s pitch found favour with parliament and his ministry will get an aggregate budget of P3.198 Billion for the 2020/ 2021 Financial Year. Within this allocation, P2.188 Billion is for the Development Budget and P1.010 Billion will cover the Recurrent Budget.

The Minister revealed his strategic interventions for land management, water and sanitation services. Highlighting that efforts by Government to provide serviced residential land to citizens on the waiting list are being hampered by limited resources. He shared that his ministry needs P94 Billion to cover such costs which will directly link to water, sewage, roads, electricity, telecommunications and storm water drainage leading to the allocation of 4 587 plots on un-serviced land.

The minister projected that 22 952 un-serviced residential plots are planned to be allocated in the next financial year. However, there is a trend where allocated land remains fallow and undeveloped which raises misgivings that the requests could have been made on speculative plans.

Mzwinila noted that in the spirit of forging stronger International connections, the Ministry will in June 2021 sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Land matters between Namibia and Botswana with the aim of opening doors to the creation of Dry Ports in the country, facilitate international trade through Walvis Bay Sea Port.

Botswana is already challenged by scarcity of naturally occurring water resources due to the aridity of the country creating persistent water shortages. The type of infrastructure required to improve national water security is a true reflection of intensive investment needed in the water sector The Minister stressed.

“An emerging issue such as the COVID -19 pandemic poses serious challenges as the control of the virus requires reliable water supply. In an effort to mitigate the challenge, the Ministry has undertaken extensive bowsing throughout the country which included the provision of additional capacity for supplementary bowsing to areas with pervasive water shortages, plus an additional forty one (41) un-gazetted settlements.

Operational costs due to bowsing were at an average of P6 Million per month before the COVID-19 pandemic and increased to an unsustainable amount of the order of P13 Million per month, since the beginning of the State of Emergency in April 2020,” the minister shared.

Through the support of a World Bank Loan, the Ministry is implementing several initiatives under the Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency (BEWSE) project. Through BEWSE the Raw Water Pricing and Abstraction Strategy will assess the pricing of water in a manner that enables the provision of water to support new economic development, the strategy is planned to be completed in June 2021.

The Ministry has commenced the development of a long term National Water Security Strategy to improve resilience to climate change impacts. The strategy development entails prioritization of the proposed future mega water transfers such as the Chobe – Zambezi water transfer, the Atlantic Ocean water transfer to Botswana through Namibia and Lesotho – Botswana water transfer.

Following the signing of the tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa in November 2017 for the Lesotho –Botswana Water Transfer project, a 24 months contract for a combined prefeasibility and feasibility study for the development of a bankable Lesotho – Botswana Water Transfer project feasibility study was signed and is to be completed in 2022.

One of the Ministry’s famous major water supply projects such as the North South Carrier (NSC) 2.2 has experienced hiccups; having tenders for contract 1 (Masama to Mmamashia Pipeline) and Contract 2 (Mahalapye to Masama Pipeline) cancelled due to budgetary constraints.

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Will Botswana’s Climate Change policy climax?

12th April 2021
Botswana Climate

The Botswana Climate Change policy draft of 2021 was tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Philda Kereng for consideration and adoption.

The policy attempts to indicate the country’s environmentally conscious development agenda as Substantial resources are being dedicated to research and policy efforts to mitigate climate change and support adaptation to the current and future impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.

Kereng indicated that Botswana is not immune to the impacts of climate change and it continues to delay the country’s national development efforts and that the key economic development sectors dependent on the climate system have recorded declines over the years due to the variability of the rainfall and other climatic conditions. Experts elsewhere have pointed out that lack of consideration of population dynamics hampers the development of stronger, more effective solutions to the challenges climate change poses – hopefully this policy if effectively implemented could partly answer this question.

Kereng underscored that sectors such as agriculture, water, bio diversity, health and tourism have suffered the most and the consequences of these have contributed significantly to the decline of livelihoods in Botswana especially in rural areas.

To respond to the changing climate, Botswana has embarked on sectoral reform such as climate smart agriculture, poverty alleviation initiatives, building resilience on the economic productive sectors, diversification of tourism for the improvement of livelihoods and income generation, local economic development and sustainable environment.

The efforts require a coordinated mechanism that will provide an enabling environment for an integrated approach to the formulation and implantation of development plans and socio economic related policies in Botswana that are responsive to the changing climatic conditions.

Minister Kereng explained the draft policy is characterized by an inclusive and integrated approach to social, economic development and governance modalities that would enable the country to achieve a sustainable development pathway. It provides opportunities for improved livelihoods through creation of green jobs, development and transfer of relevant technologies as well as creation and ease of access to both local and international markets. It also commits the government, private sector and non-state actors to adopt adaptation and mitigation measures that would facilitate sustainability and building of resilience of all sectors.

While Members of Parliament were trying to comprehend the policy, this publication got in touch with Green Botswana to solicit their views on the policy draft. Ms. Sela Motshwane, the Founder of the Trust highlighted that “the Climate Change policy was meant to be read in August 2019. It is long overdue, and we all need to see it and understand it in full.

I understand the current budget does not allow for a full implementation- but I could be wrong. More funds could have been allocated since. I think generally, Batswana need to understand fully what this means to our daily lives. I believe the true understanding is by policy drafters and the Ministry of Environment only.”

In the same vein, Green Botswana Trust took to the streets to provide a community solution to climate change on World Health Day (Wednesday). Green Botswana held a “Free Trees for Babies” at Extension 2 Clinic where fruit trees were gifted to parents, expectant mothers, 25 health workers, police officers and the prison officers who had accompanied prisoners to the clinic.

Motshwane said: “The decision to do the “Free Trees for Babies” by gifting fruit trees was to raise awareness to our imminent food security issue as stated by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr. Thabang Botshoma and encourage the general public to plant a tree so that we can reach our SGD Goal 13 : Climate Action. The trees gifted are to be named after the baby recipient”.

Green Botswana is calling for the urgent action from government and members of the public to create a culture of community accountability and collegiality in moving Botswana towards climate action and sustainability. To achieve the 2030 Paris Agreement Pledge, it will take all citizens and not just the government to reach goals.

Parliament resolved to adopt the Botswana Climate Change Policy, 2021.

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