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 This is largely because we have a deficiency of a process where anytime we can declassify material which is outdated,” Kgosi Maruje observed.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.
Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.
Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.
“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.
Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.
The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.
The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River. They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).
His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.
The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.
Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.
37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far
Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.
“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.
It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.
Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.
This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.
In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.
“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.
Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.
Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”
Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.
He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”
According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.
Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.
“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.
He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.
Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.
“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.
He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”
Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.
However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.
In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.
“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.
Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.
“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.
Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.
In an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.
The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.
“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.
According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.
“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.
Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.
“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.
“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.
COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.
Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.
The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).
On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.
Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.
President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.
“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.
On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.
In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.
Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.
Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.
As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.
This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.
The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.
As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.
“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.