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Bangwato rejected Masisi, Khama truce at 11th hour

Truce efforts between President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor Lt Gen Ian Khama were last week dealt a last blow when Bangwato tribal leadership advised the former President against meeting his successor. A date had been set for the two to meet.

Weekendpost informants disclosed that after Masisi initially rejected a proposed reconciliatory meeting arranged and organized by Spy Chief Peter Magosi because he was not ready and had long asked for the meet, he had now decided it was high time he met the man who gave him the baton.  All logistics for the meeting were sorted, with Magosi still the main organizer until the Bangwato traditional leadership dismissed it.

When Magosi made a somehow unusual call to Khama asking if it would be possible for him to meet with Masisi, it is said he (Khama) gave it a thumbs up. But he had indicated that he was in Serowe preparing for his scheduled meeting that was to be held on Saturday.  The agreement now was the meeting (private) be held on Wednesday at around 9pm in Serowe, Masisi and Magosi did not mind time and venue anyway and it was set that the two warring leaders will meet in Serowe.

Sources say with Masisi and Magosi not disputing the venue; it was demonstration that they wanted to iron out their differences with Khama. It is understood that President Masisi concedes privately that this feud has the ability to dismantle the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) going to the elections. Khama, while on the one hand agreeing to meet Masisi via phone calls with Magosi, is reported to have been locked in another meeting with his ‘Uncles’ and advise-givers but did not share with them what the frequent calls were about. Few minutes later after finalizing the meeting with Magosi through another call, it is then that he decided to disclose to his ‘uncles’ what the calls were about.

Informants say his announcement was met by strong resistance from the uncles who were already preparing for a weekend meeting and made it clear that Khama should leave the BDP. “Khama returned a call to Magosi cancelling the agreed meet. He did not reveal more details of which Magosi did not question further too, but deep down Khama knew he wanted the meeting but could not disappoint his uncles who have been traversing the path of trials and tribulation with him,” narrates a source on Tuesday this week.

Khama was told after revealing that Masisi wants to meet him that, “What, ware who? We are not with you on that one you could go ahead with it but you will be on your own,” allegedly said one member of Khama’s regiment of Malwelakgosi. Further, another uncle added, “he can come but he won’t be accorded neither any protocol nor security that the president deserves and we will not give him any recognition, so you may go ahead. But still know that Saturday we are on because we cannot fool Bangwato. They want to know what you will present to them and if he sweet-talks you, you will see how to address the tribe at the weekend.”

This was the turning point that called off the meeting but Magosi was not aware of whatever was said by the tribal leaders. The meeting by Khama and his mentors held at an unknown place in his home village of Serowe was plotting an ambush of how Masisi and the BDP should be scattered in Serowe and the central region. Further it was influencing Khama to leave the BDP and seek a refuge where he will be free and not be accused of interfering with Masisi’s presidency. Masisi was left frustrated and left the peace pipe effort hanging by a thread with a meeting between the two looking more unlikely. Contacted for comment this week, regent Kgamane said; “I am not in a position to say anything,” he said briefly.

KHAMA’S UNCLES PRESSED HIM TO REVEAL POLITICAL FUTURE

After dismissing the meeting and agreeing on the weekend agenda, which was for Khama to dump his own party. Everything went according to the script which was to disclose intentions to leave the BDP and endorse those who are sympathetic to him as per the South African based research consultancy firm. “After Biggy (Butale) made that presentation and Khama followed, he was told thereafter to go back to podium to tell Bangwato where he is going as he leaves the BDP.

And that is where they lost it; they were over-excited especially after the arrival of Butale. Khama was asked to tell the tribesmen the next destiny, “ga o kake wa bitsa batho o bo o sa ba bolelele gore ba ya kae. Ba tshwanetse go itse gore tsela pedi ba tsaya efe phuthi,” one uncle allegedly told Khama inside that white tent on Saturday. It is from there that Khama went back to the podium and cleared the air: "I don't recognise this party anymore, ke kgaogana le party e mme ke tsile go thusa ba bangwe mo dipartying tse dingwe ba ba naleng boamaaruri. Ke tla tsamaya mo dikgaolong tsotlhe, mme ke taa nna patriot ke dirisana le Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF).”

Reports say the mood in Serowe main Kgotla is so volatile to the extent that the traditional leadership has already hatched a grand plan to eradicate the party in the village. “BDP is no longer wanted in Serowe. Magosana are going to be mobilized to influence other tribesmen not to vote the BDP in the three Serowe constituencies because the party leadership has humiliated Kgosi Kgolo. It will be a demanding exercise but the traditionalists are upbeat that at the end of the day the plan will pass,” says a source very close to the dynamics.

A study compiled by a South African firm on the relationship between the two has also painted a muddy picture on the two Presidents reaching a point of reconciliation saying it is as good as impossible. However, it is said Khama was following the same script from the study which encouraged them to meet despite the circumstances. “Attempts to bring them together to reach a truce have failed and they seem to be heading to the cliff edge. With that, Khama should try by all means to meet Masisi personally or through emissaries. This is for a truce to be negotiated in the interest of both men and for the sake of the party,” highlighted the report.

In the past Khama had made it clear that he would like to meet Masisi privately. This was after many attempts by Masisi to engage his predecessor through the BDP elders committee which the former leader deliberately rejected. The SA firm research says with Masisi having registered a hollow victory at Kang congress last month, achieved through the price of manipulation, intimidation and abuse of state resource and assets, he may be amenable to a settlement in order to turn his attention to the general elections.

“A big question mark is would Masisi’s conciliatory stance be genuine or only meant to buy him peace for purpose of the election after which he will return to haunt Khama. Our analysis is that for Masisi’s project to become a success, Khama and his associates must continuously be vilified and portrayed in the eyes of the nation as the perennial enemies of the nation,” the study observed.

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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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