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Magang and Co rebuke Khama

The Association of Former Members of Botswana Parliament chaired by former Cabinet Minister and property mogul, David Magang has chastised former President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama for dividing the country.

According to a communique from the Association of Former Members of the Botswana Parliament, it was established on the 24th September 2018 under Section 6 (1) of the Registration of Societies Regulations of the Societies Act. The statement further says the Association is a non-profit making and independent organization whose membership is drawn from former members of the Botswana Parliament from various political parties. Recently Government took a decision to reward all former Members of Parliament with 20% of the basic salary of current Legislators which translates to about P8000 a month.

The objectives of the Association, among others, are: To mobilize all former members of the Botswana Parliament into an association; To provide collective opinions or pronouncements on matters of national interest and importance; and to advise Government, the nation at large or any other institution on any matter that may be within its competence.

“At its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Gaborone on the 11th May 2019, while acknowledging that the nation faces many varied challenges, the Association resolved to formally express concern about the following issues which are current and also present grave risk to the stability of the nation and her core values and principles,” reads a release from the Association.

At the apex of issues raised by the former MPs is what they contextualize as, “The national instability and anxiety created by the Former President His Excellency Dr. Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama emanating from his unfounded appeal for sympathy from across the nation. We observe with regret that his sympathy seeking antics are fast turning into promotion of regionalism and tribalism.”

According to the Magang chaired Associatuion, their collective view is that the Former President’s actions and utterances are uncalled for and must be rejected by all those who live in “this beautiful country if we are to preserve our national peace and tranquility that we have enjoyed over the years and have become the envy of many a nation.”  The Association further calls upon the Former President to desist from his divisive gatherings and statements and play his role as a statesman who has enjoyed the support and recognition of Batswana during his term of office.

“Our plea is informed by the diligent job our other former Presidents did in their retirement. They did not only subordinate themselves and allowed space for their successors to run the affairs of the nation but also became ambassadors of Botswana across the globe through their noble peace-making efforts. We believe this immediate past Former President must do the same,” writes the former Members of Parliament.

The latest rebuke aimed at Khama follows another statement released last week by 39 Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Members of Parliament in which the legislators expressed pain at “the gross contravention of the BDP culture which was displayed at a meeting addressed by Former President, H.E. Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, in Serowe on 04th May 2019.”

They pointed out that the Party would ordinarily not make a statement when one of their own derails in a manner of such magnitude, but noted that a former State President is no ordinary member, having been a holder of the highest position in the BDP and the Republic. “In its 57 years history, BDP has remained welded together by the selfless service of its members, and leaders alike.

The desire to put the interest of the nation and party before those of individuals is the reason for its strong foundations. The recent events are foreign to our party and cannot be allowed to pass by without any counsel. We hereby offer this much needed counsel,” reads their statement. The message of tribalism and regionalism was further echoed in this statement when the 39 MPs wrote, “Batswana are reminded that this nation was not built on regionalism and tribalism nor on anything that borders on those.

We should not let the afore-mentioned to divide this party and the nation. We grew up in a united Botswana and cannot afford to rob future generations of the same kind of environment that our forebearers left for us. Botswana comes first, our political parties and individual interests are secondary. The BDP has not harmed the Former President in anyway and therefore there is no need for him or anyone else to encourage its membership to leave or turn against it. We collectively call for sanity to prevail.”

Corruption, GBV worry EX MPs

From 11th May meeting the Association noted another area of concern to be crime with particular emphasis on gender-based violence and child abuse. The former MPs said these crimes against “the most vulnerable of our society are against our morality, our culture and laws of our country.”  They called upon perpetrators of these heinous crimes to desist from their acts of criminality. “We further plead with the civil society to play a bigger role in reducing the impact of this national crisis.

The Association also requests Government and Parliament to not only review the relevant laws to make them more stringent but to also provide support and resources to those institutions that are tasked with providing the much-needed care and support to victims of these crimes.” The Association of Former Members of Botswana Parliament also informed the nation that they are alarmed by the high levels of corruption in the economy that is being reported in the print media.

“Incidences of corruption seems to have literally spiraled out of control during the past ten years. To this end, we call upon Batswana to embrace the fight against corruption in all its forms across the economy. We encourage all citizens to give support to all institutions of Government tasked with investigating corruption in order to bring perpetrators to book. We believe that these institutions must be afforded the required resources and the necessary operational independence they need to be effective in their critical mission.”

The Association whose Secretary is former MP, Shirley Segokgo and Treasurer is Isaac Mabiletsa said it offers this advice and counsel with the hope that Batswana will reflect on these issues and challenges facing the nation and in turn engage each other constructively in their neighborhoods, workplaces and other meeting places with a view of encouraging each other to choose unity and security as a nation before any other interests. Some of the notable names in the list of those who subscribe to the Association include former Vice President, Ponatshego Kedikilwe.

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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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