Scores high ranking public service officials including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) commander, Lt Gen Placid Segokgo and the Botswana Police Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe — will be forced to leave the public service at the mandatory retirement age of 55 and 60 years.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi is said to have reminded the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi not to extent contracts of senior public officials who are in the afternoons of their lives. Masisi’s decision to follow the Public Service Act to the letter will affect mostly the defense and security fraternity as a number of high ranking officials are expected to leave their offices. The decision comes at a time when the new administration wants to phase out a number of officials who are linked to the past leadership.
Already a number of names that captained a number of institutions and ministries are likely to be swept out as Masisi also wants his new loyal brigade that will ensure his modus operandi is implemented. While it is clearly enshrined in the Public Service Act that retirement age is at the age of 60 years, the government has on many instances offered contracts to some senior official who had reached the age — this will now be history under Masisi’s administration.
Masisi, according to informant has made it known to Morupisi that whatever the qualification or skills one possesses the Public Service Act should be followed to the letter. This is intended to give other upcoming officers chance to rise through the leadership ladder. “It is clear in the Public Service Act that when you reach 60 you retire, so it is not like Masisi is imposing that. It has always been there,” Morupisi said briefly when asked about this.
It is said even to those with needed skills will not be renewed unlike in the past system. “However they could only be roped in as consultants to assist the government,” explains a highly placed source within the government. Transfers of senior officials will also be minimal as the inter-ministerial movements and parastatal will mostly be dominated by more junior officers. “President argues as to what new intellect or thinking they will bring if they are moved across institutions,” added a source.
Already a source highlights that Masisi was instrumental in ejecting former Ministry of Defense Justice and Security Permanent Secretary Segakweng Tsiane who reached the mandatory retirement age last year September. “There was extension which Masisi long said should be scrapped but after considering a number of factors it was decided that she leaves at the end of the financial year (March 31st). Permanent Secretary to the President Morupisi issued a press release stating that Matshidiso Bokole was appointed on promotion as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security with effect from 01st April 2019.
Reports however continue to maintain that the dreaded axe is also coming to others including the current Botswana Defense Force (BDF) Commander Lt Gen Placid Segokgo. Segokgo was aged 53 when he assumed BDF high office in 2016 and he is currently 56, a year above the disciplined forces’ mandatory retirement age of 55. His contract is yet to be fully extended by the head of state and an informant says it will not be. Lt Gen Segokgo is likely to be one of BDF commanders to have served the shortest of periods as commander of the army.
Retired Lt Gen Gaolatlhe Galebotswe served as BDF commander for the four years. Retired Lt Gen Tebogo Masire is the only BDF commander to have his contract extended by the President. Masire took over from Lieutenant General Matshwenyego Fisher in 2006 and his contract was extended for two years when he reached the retirement age of 55. The soft spoken Botswana Police Commissioner (BPS) Keabetswe Makgophe is another name facing the chop. He is currently 57 years, two more years after reaching the retirement age of 55. Already the government is running helter skelter to find Makgophe’s replacement but sources highlight one name, Tapudzani Gabolekwe who is the Assistant Commissioner.
Makgophe replaced the then Police Commissioner, Thebeyame Tsimako, whose contract was extended. Makgophe’s appointment came after the former deputy commissioner, Kenny Kapinga, was redeployed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an ambassador. By far government through PSP has made two transfer and redeployments of Brigadier Joseph Mathambo who has been appointed as Director General, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) from the 02nd April 2019. On the other hand Victor Paledi is transferred to the Ministry of Defence Justice and Security as the Secretary Defence Justice and Security from 02nd April 2019.More deployments and transfers are expected after Kang congress, reports say.
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.