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Serowe MP’s walking on a tight rope

Two Serowe legislators, Kgotla Autlwetse (Serowe North) and Lesedi Phuthego (Serowe South) are skating on thin ice in their parliamentary race for the incoming 2019 General Elections. The two areas, together with Serowe West under Tshekedi Khama are the heartland of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in the Central District.

Both Tshekedi Khama and Botswana’s fourth president Ian Khama are sons to the BDP’s founding and foremost leader Sir Seretse Khama. The Khama’s emerge from Serowe village while both Sir Seretse and Ian were successive paramount chiefs in the Bangwato area. The incumbent paramount chief, Khama last week officially quit the party after long differences with the current party and country President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Upon resigning from the party at his second meeting with his subjects at Serowe Showgrounds, the Bangwato chief implored the tribesmen – in what he described as a BDP stronghold area – to also jump ship. Both of the three Serowe BDP candidates were not on sight at the two Khama meetings which he said were Bangwato tribe gatherings. A new party, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) was formed and the ex-president insisted that he will support it together with other opposition political formations going forward.  

Speaking to Weekend Post this week on the matter, one Serowe North legislator Autlwetse disowned Khama saying he remains unshaken with the party, BDP. “I am a BDP member forever, dully elected in the 2014 General Elections, and also in the last year primary elections in which culminated in me being its candidate for the impending 2019 General Elections and I am unshaken,” he said. Autlwetse shot down the new party, BPF stating that “I don’t know that new party (BPF) and I have no association with it and I don’t even know what it stands for, as well as what it has in store for Serowe or the people of Batswana.”

According to Autlwetse, as such there is no reason for him to dump BDP for BPF and he stressed that it is not even a party for Bangwato as some want to portray or believe. When asked if Khama would not influence other tribesmen, all of which fall under his constituency to also dump the BDP and go for the new political home, or to other opposition parties, the Serowe North legislator said, to his remembrance, Khama did not seem to be suggesting that at the infamous gathering.

“As the party is not for Bangwato, Khama was speaking only his personal views and own position of leaving the BDP. He didn’t say to Bangwato that they should also leave their parties (BDP). That’s how I understood him.” He continued: however, the constitution of the country allows for any new political formation as is the right of association. Conversely, Autlwetse said “I do not think Khama was forcing Bangwato or anyone to join the BPF.”

The one time MP explained that some BDP members who were throwing away their BDP membership cards at the controversial meeting was also in no way linked to surrending their votes (away from BDP) at the polls. “We are not going to use those BDP cards at the polls, but rather that of IEC. So they are as useless,” he said. According to Autlwetse, so he doesn’t think it will hurt his fortunes in the coming elections.

He insisted to this publication: “I was elected by democrats (BDP) and they are the ones who will decide my fate” while adding that “Batswana and not only Bangwato tribe, will decide on the BDP.” In 2014 General Elections, Autlwetse on behalf of BDP, won Serowe North by a whopping wide margin of 9611 against Basego M. Motswakhumo of BCP who only got 576 while Ishmael Selebogo’s UDC pocketed 1067.

When speaking on Ramadeluka Seretse, who is contesting against him as an independent candidate, Autlwetse stressed that he is the only BDP candidate in the area. He added that “therefore anyone who contests riding on the notion that he is a BDP independent candidate will be dishonest and mischievous. BDP does not have an independent candidate.” Another Serowe probable law maker, Lesedi Phuthego, who succeeds Pelonomi Venson Moitoi at Serowe South, said he respects Khama but offers allegiance to only BDP the party and its leader President Masisi.

“BDP made me. The BDP members put me here to represent them. So, I will stand still with them. Only if the same democrats no longer want me they will say so through the polls. I am, still, counting on their support in 2019 elections,” Phuthego declared. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, in 2014 General Elections,  representing the BDP also garnered a sounding victory of 7833 against Iphemeleng Kgokgothwane of Opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s 1469 and Stephen Mpofu of BCP got 583 while Richard Goaletsa Bagwasi had 1359 as an independent.

The new contender, Phuthego observed that he respects Kgosi Khama as a father figure and paramount chief in Gammangwato territory and would have loved his support. “But he formed his party (BPF) and I have to respect his decision as he fully has that right,” he said. “I will stay here in BDP for as long as the party wants me here. I listen to them. If they mislead me it will also show at the polls.” According to Phuthego, Masisi is the party president and therefore he comes first in the party.

“If someone can say they are not with Masisi at this point, and that they are instead with Khama, then they are not BDP members at heart. It is high time every BDP member take a position.” He added “my campaign posters will even go with a picture of Masisi in Serowe South showing that indeed I stand with the party president and the party.” The Serowe South BDP candidate also emphasised that “every BDP member should be supporting Masisi as an incumbent leader. It doesn’t even mean we have anything against Khama. Khama is only my kgosikgolo and it ends there.”

Phuthego is also aware: “I know probably as a paramount chief, Khama will count for Bangwato or some in the party. It may affect me I know but I pray to the living God that it does not affect me to a larger extent.” Meanwhile, Tshekedi who makes the third of the BDP candidates in Serowe and surrounding villages, could not pick up calls as this publication persistently made several attempts to reach him on the matter.

Tshekedi representing BDP still in 2014 General Elections, was triumphed with a solid margin 5401 beating Edwin K. Seabe representing BCP with a paltry 431 and Rolent B Kambule only attained 948 on behalf of UDC. There is strong speculation that TK faces a serious dilemma on whether to go with his party, BDP and President Masisi or his brother and territory Chief, Khama.  

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Opposition Will Never Achieve Anything- Nkaigwa

8th April 2021
Haskins Nkaigwa

Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms.  “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.

“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.

“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.

“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”

Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner.  He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.

Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.

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Botswana benefits over P100 million in grants from Japan

7th April 2021
Ambassador HOSHIYAMA

Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.

The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).

“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.

“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”

Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).

From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.

From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.

“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.

“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”

In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.

TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.

“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.

“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”

Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.

“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.

“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”

Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.

Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.

According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.

“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.

The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.

According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).

“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.

“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”

The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.

 

“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.

“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”

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Magosi pushes for Cabinet reshuffle

6th April 2021
President Masisi

Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.

The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.

This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.

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