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Khama considers forming a political movement

Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama is ensnared in a dicey situation of whether to pursue a long hatched plan of forming a new political party or starts a fresh political movement that will endorse and support candidates he favours in various constituencies.

Khama for long time has not shied away from revealing plans of a new party. This follows the ongoing animosity between him and the sitting President Mokgweetsi Masisi. However, recommendations by the engaged South African consultancy firm has advised him not to form a party saying: ”Khama cannot lead a new party in case he is accused of plotting what one Minister, Unity Dow referred to as a Putin strategy to return to power.” The research findings further posited that with only six months to elections a new party will need to be organised and resourced to make impact in the elections.

In addition it said, it is unclear whether the new party will be part of coalition or go it alone. “For the party to be of significant force it will have to rely on BDP members sympathetic to Khama to make a bulk of its leadership and rank and file. The viability of a new party will have to be studied in more depth,” the report indicated.

Initially Khama wanted to form a party despite the advice, but fresh information depicts a man who is now willing to follow the experts’ suggestion of resigning from the BDP but not form a new party. This is per the report’s advice that Khama can still resign from BDP and support opposition candidates well-disposed to him without him seeking return to office in the case of a change of government. “The new government and Khama will be a subject of negotiations and agreements before any commitments can be made.”

This report says all these are based on affection many Batswana have on Khama. “Footage of his community upliftment visits to communities show a man magnetism and is still able to rouse the crowds. It is unlikely his predecessors could retain the appeal Khama still does.”
Informants from his camp this week told this publication that Khama together with the expelled BDP members including Prince Maele and Biggy Butale met with Pelonomi Moitoi last week on the matter of starting a new political movement. At the time of going to press the idea was known to the select few and yet to still be scrutinized before full implementation.

The idea of meeting with the expelled BDP members was to get their input on the matter and if at all it is viable. It is said Khama at the meeting apart from consoling the booted members also wanted to hear their deliberations on the project. “He was open he wanted to know what they think because he says either fate of a new party or anything lies on them as his duty will only be to facilitate what is already there and agreed. He will offer support to the candidates under his wing,” reveals a source.

It is added that: “The idea is not to form a new party because it will need more mobilisation and it will be exhausting considering that it is only few months before elections. So a movement endorsing preferred candidates around the country is the way to go this is as per the recommendation by the expert,” said a source close to the developments.

The movement if it sees the light of the day there is high possibility to be named a democratic movement which will be seeking to endorse candidates who “are hard-workers in their constituencies and promote democracy.” This however it is said will be aimed at already selected and more to come candidates that the former president wants to see in parliament post October general elections.

Within the BDP MPs it is said Khama has Maele, Butale, Moiseraele Goya, Philip Makgelemele, Tshekedi Khama and in absentia Samson Moyo Guma. This it is said does not end there as already there are legislators who their allegiance is unknown but are disgruntled by Masisi’s stewardship- a factor which the Khama faction believe it will heavily cripple the BDP plans to retain power, should those members jump the ship.

Should the movement or party plan succeed, political observers say for the first time the party is likely to lose some of the seats currently under their stable and fail to win those under opposition ticket. The thought of the movement according to informants is two-fold; firstly not to have a permanent structure as Khama could return to BDP and to form a coalition government with opposition after the elections. “If we kill the magic number of 29 then it means there won’t be an outright winner after the elections.

And from there it is possible to negotiate governance with whoever is there but of course not the BDP, not with Masisi as the  president, possibly we could gravitate towards the UDC or any opposition party that would have done well in the polls,” shared a highly placed informant.
Contrary to what is being said, Khama according to informants will not necessarily quit the BDP for life but could be just for period of time until a point when Masisi is no longer its leader. Sources say there is no how Khama could leave the party formed by his parents and concede defeat just like that.

The movement is expected to be made up of disgruntled BDP members and independent candidates. The former president has called on a meeting at Serowe show grounds today; there is high possibility that he will disclose the plan of a new party or political movement in his home village. Khama’s crusade of endorsing anti-BDP candidates in some constituencies is well on track with the latest victim being Sefhare-Ramokgonami MP Dorcas Makgato who saw Khama ‘endorsing’ his opposition rival Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang.

It is expected that more of the BDP candidates especially in the central region will fall by the wayside due to ‘Khama magic’. Central region is Khama’s territory as paramount chief of Bangwato and he commands a large following there, something that observers say could work against his own party.

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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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