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No paramount Chief for Bayeyi – Tsogwane

Multitudes of Bayeyi tribesmen who thronged Gumare main Kgotla last Sunday to celebrate their annual Wayeyi culture festival were left in disappointment after being told that despite recent recognition by Government, they are not yet entitled to paramount chief representation in the Ntlo Ya Dikgosi.

The government through Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) in 2016 resolved to recognise the Bayeyi as an independent ethnic group. With that respect, there was optimism within the tribe—anticipating a new page that would corroborate their sovereignty with having their own Kgosi Kgolo. For a long time Bayeyi have been taken as Batawana subjects something the tribe vehemently challenged until government acceded to their demand.

 Bayeyi’s main contention for recognition was based on two things; being first inhabitants in the area, and having more population. One of the Bayeyi Chieftainship Council delegate who have been negotiating with government on the matter, is Gilson Saleshando, former Member of Parliament and former leader of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

Saleshando told this publication in an interview that Vice President Slumber Tsogwane informed them that they are still a minority tribe and therefore there will not have a paramount chief and representation in the Ntlo Ya Dikgosi. “We as the delegation of Bayeyi met with him (Tsogwane) at Maun Lodge sometimes back and he told us that we are still moratshwana. He even said a white t-shirt is not as the same as a red t-shirt. With that, he said we can only be recognised but we will not have a Kgosi Kgolo. He says this is because we fall under Batawana territory therefore we are their subjects,” said Saleshando one of the long-time Wayeyi ‘freedom fighters’.

He continued; “We communicated this to Bayeyi over the weekend during our annual culture celebrations where Tsogwane was present. But he failed to present or corroborate what he told us in our meeting though I pleaded with him to repeat what he said in front of Bayeyi. He declined and instead attacked me for not tabling any motion about it during my tenure as an MP. He only told morafe that our chieftainship should be hereditary for smooth succession.”

While most of the tribesmen came to celebrate their culture with anticipated good news from Tsogwane as a cherry on top, they were left devastated by the revelation. “People were very hurt, the mood was sombre. They never expected that but it shows that our constitution promotes marginalisation,” Saleshando stated. The development is being viewed as inferring that government’s decision to recognise the tribe in 2016 was just a ceremonial occurrence and will not come with anything tangible the tribe hoped for.

“Under Bogosi Act we are Morafe since we are recognised but under the country’s constitution we are Moratshwana because we cannot contribute meaningfully to what is happening like the other eight tribes. This now means that recognition was just a ceremonial and rhetoric occurrence. We are not going to enjoy any basics a recognized tribe does,” he said. The main reason Bayeyi demanded to be recognised and have a paramount chief was for them to enjoy linguistic and cultural rights not enjoyed by the non-recognised tribes.

 “Among these are access to the institution of Bogosi, permanent membership to Ntlo ya Dikgosi as our right, group rights to land, territorial and ethnic identity, a celebration of one’s culture in the public domain and the use of one’s language in education and the media,” another delegate Gceba Ditando has said. Saleshando believes the current problems are caused by the constitution due to the manner in which it was framed.  

“This unjust law to have minor and major tribes is due to the constitution and not Batawana. Our rivalry with them dates back to time immemorial but they are not at fault. The constitution needs to be amended. This was even suggested by the judgement in 2001 when we demanded the same and judges told us that parliament can change laws not them. So for now I believe our constitution has been overtaken by events,” a very emotional Saleshando said.

Bayei tribe has three royal families from which the chief has to be chosen. Those royal families include Bogosi Jwa ga Mathwara, Bogosi Jwa ga Hankuzi and Bogosi Jwa ga Xonkue. The Bayei chieftaincy was left vacant following the demise of Chief Shikati Calvin Kamanakao in 2003. After years of struggle the Wayeyi Chieftainship Council and morafe agreed that Chief Fish Ozoo be their representative who unfortunately passed on before being crowned.

The latest name was Pitoro Jacob Seedisa who could have long been installed at least by the 4th of December in 2017 but was blocked by Batawana tribal leadership. He was appointed the leader last Sunday. All these failures to coronate a chief especially in 2017 when it was given a go ahead by the then Minister of Local Government, Tsogwane, had Batawana regent Kealetile Moremi blocking everything saying it is inconsequential for Bayeyi to have own Chief as they are under Batawana.

In 2017 a scheduled Bayeyi chief coronation failed after Batawana regent, Kealetile Moremi opposed it. It is said after the argument government decided reached a conclusion that Bayeyi not could have their own paramount chief. It is believed that government feared that giving BaYeyi full recognition would have various negative implication such as being saddled with the task of creating new boundaries as BaYeyi wanted to have its own territorial integrity.

Now their independence is pie in the sky. For now there are about 37 other tribes which exist in Botswana, which are not recognised by the state. The total non-Tswana population is generally estimated at about 60 per cent. Experts say lack of recognition has also led to the inadequate provision of social services, such as education, in rural and minority dominated areas, 36 resulting in disproportionately high levels of poverty.

In 1885, the then-Bechuanaland became a British protectorate and in 1933, the British authorities recognized eight tribes in the Chieftainship Act as follows: the Barolong, Bakwena, Bangwaketse, Balete, Bakgatla, Batlokwa, Bangwato and Batawana.

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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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