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BDP ropes in parastatals for election campaign

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has unleashed an intimidating electioneering plan which will include touring constituencies with several government departments and parastatals to campaign for the general elections expected later this year.  

This publication is reliably informed that party president Mokgweetsi Masisi and chairman Slumber Tsogwane have warmly endorsed the strategy that was pushed by the backbenchers. It is said the plan is aimed at ambushing the opposition and it will be fully implemented next month as the party launches its manifesto and candidates in various constituencies.

The strategy was informed by legislators who have been for a long time lamenting about poor service delivery by government departments. Of most concern has been Water Utilities which saw taps going dry in a number of constituencies which the ruling party desperately wants to win in the coming general elections.

The plan is expected to vary per constituency considering the need and the troubles that besiege different areas. Already the party is yet to formally approach the identified departments so that they can commit their availability in those meetings to give electorates first-hand information. “This is aimed at making Batswana appreciate how much the BDP, which is also the ruling party has done and is doing to ensure that service delivery is met,” said party Secretary General Mpho Balopi in a short interview this week.


Balopi who could not dwell much on the details of the strategy as it is still being orchestrated added:  “The plan is to hold town-hall meetings with voters and we will also ensure that we bring all the stakeholders like ministry officials and parastatals to those meetings so that people can appreciate and get answers straight from those who are hands on. As a party we don’t know the challenges they face and it will be opportunity to interact with Batswana and share ideas as to what could be done to ensure how to move Botswana forward.”

The electioneering plan is dominated by lack of consumable water, electricity, human wildlife conflicts, lack of land, unemployment, social welfares and low yield from agriculture output. However it seems water and wildlife conflicts brushes many feathers than other concerns.
The party is concerned about the possibilities of power cuts especially as the winter season fast approaches.

This has forced them to engage Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) to set the record straight that there won’t be any electricity cuts as it attracts the public’s wrath on the BDP. The party says it has been among the opposition’s favorite subjects used to discredit BDP even in 2014. BCP representatives will be requested to inform the public that power cuts would be history this winter and that electricity connectivity is fast and efficient. It is also expected that electricity and water charges which voters say are unbearably high and often inconsistent and confusing will be discussed.

From the northern block backbenchers the issue of human/wildlife conflict tops the list. “Elephants are terrorizing people in those areas. Agriculture is suffering with people being killed also. The remedies implemented by the communities have failed and now we have no option but to kill them. By the way elephant population has increased,” party chief whip Liekat Kablay confirmed the contents of strategy when mapped few months ago.


This topic will be addressed by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) who are also expected to inform the public as to what should happen in case wildlife tempers with livestock or agricultural proceeds and compensation thereof. Meanwhile the party has also adopted the plan to give Batswana land. The land boards in areas surrounding cities will update voters as to what could be leading to long waiting queues and what will be done to remedy that. Update on the LAPCAS will also be given to voters.

“People have applied for land and have been waiting and the waiting list keeps on growing long yet we can see we have land. The government should go all out and give Batswana land. We should go back to the old system of giving people land then services like water and electricity will find them,” one MP allegedly told Tsogwane at the drafting of the strategy.

For now Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services Itumeleng Moipisi told the party that they are still doing maps which will take time. Another question expected to be fielded to the ministry is what happened to P1.5 billion requested from World Bank to avail water to Batswana. With an estimated unemployment rate of 17.6, the party wants the youth to be convinced that acceleration of job creation in Botswana is on track. As is there are no sustainable jobs not Ipelegeng and the locals have pleaded with intensive job creation.

This one will be addressed by Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development in conjunction with CEDA. It is also requested to increase the monies of Youth Grant from P2million so that a number of them would benefit. Apart from addressing these pertinent topics the party will be launching their candidates and also presenting the manifesto. BDP wants to improve its 47 percent popular in 2014, which was the worst since formation.

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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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