President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has finally found a relief from the threatening motion of no confidence against him after he approved the increment of Members of Parliament (MPs), a gesture which left them all in smiles this week.
In a week full of startling revelations, MPs across political divide unanimously agreed to increase their own salaries by 15 percent, a development which has attracted mixed feelings from the public. For the first time, a rare occasion parliament witnessed the essence of collaboration amongst MPs as they debated and threw points as to why they need to have their salaries hiked.
Masisi had proposed a total of 15 percent adjustment for legislators (4 percent salary hike) while 11 percent was a result of de-linking legislators from the public service. The constituency allowance is also proposed to be increased at 50 percent, while former legislators will get 20 percent of living allowance. Despite disapproval from some sections of the public, MPs threw aside their partisanship to join hands in defending their decision. With an emphatic victory in Kang, and 15 percent salary increment for MPs and other benefits, Masisi knew he had won the day.
The same week, President Masisi flew abroad for a two day trip for the first time since 16 January 2019. Masisi had been weary of travelling abroad after being warned that, about 12 MPs from the ruling party were planning to collude with opposition MPs to pass a motion of no confidence against in parliament. Owing to the threat that President Masisi faced from hostile MPs from rival faction, Ministry of International Cooperation cancelled planned abroad trips.
The first attempt to remove Masisi from power was made in July 2018, when Leader of the Opposition Duma Boko, supposedly working with the disgruntled ruling party MPs, moved on urgency, a motion seeking to pass no confidence against government of the day. The motion however did not garner enough support as majority of the BDP MPs voted against the motion, while Alliance for Progressives (AP) MPs abstained from voting the motion.
While Masisi had survived the motion, reports indicated that as polarity within the party in the run up to Kang Congress intensified, rivals were planning to bring back the motion, through opposition benches as it was the case in the first motion. The plan even forced Masisi to regularly attend parliament in the run up to Kang Congress, with observed indicating that the plan was to intimidate BDP rival MPs, therefore disrupting their best laid plans.
This publication earlier reported that the 12 MPs allegedly to be aligned to then party presidential candidate, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi had planned to resign from the BDP in order to collapse Masisi’s government. According to insiders, the rebellious MPs had planned to execute their plan when Masisi was away on international trips. The plan became futile after Masisi cancelled international trips, with majority of them developing cold feet.
With Masisi having secured his candidacy as BDP president in Kang last weekend, observers indicate that there is huge possibility of having a snap election, a development which will be the first of its kind since independence. The constitution of Botswana empowers a sitting to dissolve parliament at any time. According to section 90 (3); whenever parliament is dissolved, a general election of the elected members of the assembly shall be held within 60 days of the date of the dissolution and a session of parliament shall be appointed to commence within 30 days of the date of that general elections.
IEC is scheduled to complete its final registration on the 28th of April 2019, a date which may allow Masisi to dissolve parliament subsequent to conclusion of the process. Reports indicate that Masisi is yearning to get a fresh mandate from the general populace owing to instability which has threatened his transitional term. However, Masisi victory in Kang have seen new development, with some MPs reportedly expressing their desire to close ranks with him.
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.
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.”
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.