The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) date for the Special Congress billed for Kang is fast approaching. This is no ordinary congress, for the first time the ruling party’s Electoral College will be subjected to a unique task of voting for the president of the party.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi is certainly defending his position, and so far Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has declared interest in the position and is contesting pending nomination at congress. But the situation is so tense to the extent that there are now assassination claims; and some have fled the country and are reported to be seeking asylum in neighbouring countries.
Venson-Moitoi’s chief campaigner Samson Guma Moyo has fled the country amid claims that he has been tipped of a plot to assassinate him by security agents. The opposing camp has dismissed Moyo’s utterances as a stunt meant to win sympathy because he is well aware that “Kang is going to be very hot” and he will be defeated.
With the final branch congresses expected this week, at this stage the two camps are now crunching the numbers to see where they stand in this historical vote. As the final touches to the campaigns are being galvanized, the BDP enthusiasts are waiting for the 5th April 2019 to go and fulfil the one agenda item – Vote the President of the BDP. Political careers are at stake in this contest and the camp that loses this contest may be forced to humble itself before the other for the sake of unity in the party. Or the winning camp may be forced to be “the bigger man” and soberly celebrate the victory.
President Masisi’s camp has won almost all 14 regions and has made sure of “endorsements” which guarantee nomination for the position of President at the Special Congress. The chairman and the Secretary of every region is a delegate, that is to say every regional structure has two votes. Therefore the 14 regions will contribute 28 votes at the Special Congress should it proceed to voting.
Each constituency will bring 10 delegates to Kang. This is how the delegates are selected. First there is a congress at cell level to elect 10 members who will attend a ward congress, at this ward congress 10 delegates are voted so that they attend the branch congress. There will be 10 delegates from each ward who will vote 8 delegates who will attend the Special Congress that will elect the BDP president. On top of the eight delegates, the chairman and the secretary of the branch are automatically delegates by virtue of their positions which makes it 10 delegates.
This is where the real battle is because this means that each constituency through the branch brings 10 delegates. Because there are 57 constituencies, this makes it 570 delegates from around the country. This is the segment of the BDP Electoral College that is expected to have a heavy load of the party work horses and the Trojans.
They will prove very key in this battle for the control of the ruling party. The BDP has about 352 Councillors country wide with 192 belonging to the Central District Council (CDC). All Councillors do vote at the Special Congress by virtue of their position. Councillors are seen as a critical part of both campaign teams because of their influence in the communities they serve. They also have the power to influence delegates.
President Masisi organized a dinner for CDC Councillors this week where he told them they should choose whether they want to go back to the days of “Rra Gaone, Rra Nametso, or the days of the immediate former President.” He also made it clear that the BDP constitution states that he will continue as party leader even if he loses the Kang vote. But President Masisi appears confident of victory and is rest assured. On the other hand Venson-Moitoi has stated that she works better than she talks, and has vowed to overcome all odds and win.
MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
The BDP currently has 44 Members of Parliament. They are all eligible to vote. They have in the past complained about the date of the Special Congress and the venue. They pointed out that the date clashes with scheduled Parliamentary business hence they wanted the vote to be postponed. BDP legislators had also complained about the venue, Kang because of the distance and lack of accommodation.
But they have been ignored and the vote goes on. Already 12 Members of Parliament have threatened to quit the BDP, an indication that they are not on President Masisi’s side. The President is most definitely aware of this because he even mentions it in his campaign sojourns at regional congresses. But MPs are also a critical voting group. Their influence to delegates from constituencies cannot be undermined.
WOMEN’S AND YOUTH WINGS
Both these structures have pledged to vote President Dr Masisi. They have 8 votes each at the Special Congress. With the Youth Wing, its Vice Chairman has been suspended from the party and he is one of the staunch supporters of Venson-Moitoi. This means only 7 members of the Youth Wing will vote in Kang.
The Central Committee is the governing structure of the party and it headed by the President. It has 18 votes at the Special Congress. Most of the votes belong to President Dr Masisi in this structure. This is the structure that will affect the number of votes at MPs level because there a few Legislators who also double as members of the central committee such as Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, Minister Tshekedi Khama, Minister Dorcas Makgato, Minister Botlogile Tshireletso, and Member of Parliament Guma Moyo, who is said to be on the run. This obviously lowers the number of votes expected because they cannot vote twice or three times in the case of Minister Makgato who is also chairperson of the Women’s Wing.
THE 1000 DELEGATES
The BDP Special Congress, a one day event, with one agenda item is expecting approximately 1000 delegates to vote its President. Whoever is elected President at this congress will be the party’s 2019 Presidential candidate. He will carry the aspirations of the reported 600 000 registered BDP members.
There are fears that the Kang vote could split the BDP into two because the many incidents during the campaign trail have signaled a point of no return in the battle. But the adage, there are no permanent enemies in politics may come in handy. However those close to the events say there is too much at stake both in terms of commerce and power hence one camp has to be annihilated altogether.
President Masisi is the third beneficiary of automatic succession constitutional dispensation – he took over when Khama left office last year April. Dr Masisi has made it clear that the transition was not smooth. But still his succession was not be a breeze in the park. First he has to ward-off the challenge from Nonofho Molefhi who was vying for the chairmanship and now he battling to remain in the party presidency ahead of 2019 elections. Neither Festus Mogae nor Khama were challenged for the throne when they ascended.
Masisi is not only battling Venson-Moitoi, he is also in the trenches against the then Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander and popular chief of Bangwato, Ian Khama. His arrival in the BDP was expected to galvanise and restore BDP’s popularity. The famous “Khama Magic” was the aura and charisma which Khama used in appealing to the masses and rallying votes for the BDP banner. But since taking over from Khama, President Masisi has reversed the script, bringing his own style, and this has irked some of his party colleagues.
â€¨The watershed moment for opposition parties was 2010, the in which BDP split, resulting in the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD); in that particularly year, Human Rights lawyer Duma Boko assumed the leadership of BNF while Dumelang Saleshando succeeded his father as leader of Botswana Congress Party (BCP). However, with opposition evidently gaining popularity at the expense of the ruling party, the BDP has remained antagonistic to prospects of introducing countering reforms.
Masisi has vowed to reverse all these with a series of sweeping changes that antagonize the practices of the then Khama administration. He has introduced new pay structures for the armed forces as the latest of his interventions and he hopes to woo votes for October. It remains to be seen if Kang will give Masisi a chance to be BDP’s poster “boy” come October 2019 or the party will choose a woman President for the first time in history. This will squarely be on the shoulders of an Electoral College made of 1000 men and women of the BDP. In Setswana, the Kang date will signify that moment at a funeral, “Tiro e boela baruting”. The facebook politicking and campaigns swings will come to a halt.
Public Servants should brace themselves for some changes as the government is in an overdrive mode to overhaul the public sector. The government has also set the tone for the looming changes as it has added the public sector to its looming list of major and sweeping reforms.
This is contained in a savingram from the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Emmah Peloetletse’s office showing how the government intends to “take stock” of all reforms in the public sector through the establishment of an inventory. Peloetletse’s savingram addressed to various ministries and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) reveals that the government is working around the clock to implement some changes in the Public Service.
The savingram reminded Permanent Secretaries of various ministries and DPSM that the public sector reforms unit (PSRU) at the Office of the President is mandated with Coordinating Reforms across the Public Service. “This essentially entails providing the strategic guidance and facilitation in the implementation of reforms across the Public Service. In this endeavour the Unit has in the past with Technical Assistance from European Union developed a template for documenting Reforms in the Public Service and documented ten (10) major reforms across the Public Service,” reads the savingram in part. It added that “The Unit has lately rolled out the Change Management Framework in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient management of change in the Public Service.”
According to the savingram, it has been noted that for a variety of reasons the use of the template for documenting reforms has not been universally used across the Botswana Public Service. It further states that to facilitate the documentation of the reforms it is essential that an inventory of the various reforms across the Public Service (Central Government, Local Government and State Owned Entities) is established.
“By this correspondent we are seeking your assistance in populating the attached template to provide basic information on the various reforms. The PSRU will, through the various Coordination of focal Persons facilitate the full documentation of the reforms once the inventory is established,” the savingram further stated. The copy of the template among others calls on the focal persons to fill out them form under several headings; they include title of reform, start date, reform objectives, reform components, reform components, progress status.
The savingram echoes President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s announcement last year during his state of the nation address that as a nation Botswana has set itself a lofty goal of becoming a high income country by 2036 and has come up with a list of reforms among them digitisation of government infrastructure. He said the path to achieving this goal dictates that, Botswana takes deliberate steps that will transform its institutions; the way Batswana think and the way they act.
“It is with this in mind, that I presented a Reset Agenda in May 2021, with the following priorities: Save Botswana‘s population from COVID-19, by implementing a series of life saving measures that include a successful and timely vaccination programme, Adherence to COVID-19 health protocols remains key and align Botswana Government’s machinery to the Presidential Agenda, to ensure that the national transformation agenda will be embodied in the public service of the day,” said Masisi. He added that, “this will come with significant Government reforms in all public institutions. We need greater agility and responsiveness like never before in the delivery of public services.”
The Presidential COVID-19 Task Force reportedly meddled in the awarding of tenders for COVID-19, a new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has revealed.
The Committee expressed concern that it has noted that there are two centres for covid procurement being the Ministry of Health and the Covid Task team in the Office of the President. The report says the Committee questioned the Accounting Officer on why the COVID 19 task team is usurping the powers of the Ministry of Health by engaging in covid procurement when the Ministry of Health is the one which has the experience and mandate of dealing with the pandemic. The report says clarification was also sought on why direct appointment is the preferred method for covid procurement.
“In her response the Accounting Officer stated that the task team was mainly engaged in the procuring of quarantine facilities and was assisting the Ministry of Health due to the heavy workload brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic,” the report says. The report says the Accounting Officer further stated that direct procurement was used because COVID 19 was treated as an emergency and that procurement was mainly from companies that have been traditionally used by the Ministry of Health.
“This however, is not the case as there has been report of new companies being awarded COVID -19 contracts. The use of direct procurement method should only be used in exceptional cases as it’s a non-competitive method which increases the risk of inflated pricing and close relations with particular suppliers to the detriment of others,” the report says.
It says since most covid procurement fell under emergency, there is need for openness and transparency regarding the procurement. The PAC recommended that in order to ensure transparency and accountability all COVID 19 related procurement should be periodically published in the PPADB website giving full details of the companies receiving procurement contracts and the beneficial owners of the companies.
It says with the passage of time the impact of covid is no longer unexpected so direct awards should gradually be abandoned as the medium and long-term needs of the pandemic can now be predicted. “Judgement should be used even during direct awards to ensure that prices are not higher than the market prices,” the report says.
In a related matter, the report says the Central Medical Stores (CMS) was unable to cater for the required quantities of medical supplies with order fulfilments of about 35% resulting in shortages and insufficient drugs to Athlone Hospital and the surrounding clinics. “In his submission the Accounting Officer had indicated that CMS was unable to supply the exact quantities required by the hospital and surrounding clinics due to the fact that supplies from CMS have to be rationed in order to cover other facilities around the country,” says the report.
The committee expressed concern about the inadequate supply of drugs to government facilities which puts the lives of patients at risk due to non- availability of essential supplies. It recommended that the Ministry identifies and prioritise measures that need to be taken to ensure that there is adequate supply of essential medicines which are needed in the public health system.
Meanwhile the report says the Ministry of Health and Wellness coordinates the operations and functions of some institutions which receive government subventions and secondment of staff from the government. These institutions include 10 NGO’s, two mission Hospitals, three mission clinics and two schools of Nursing.
It says in its endeavour to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of government support to NGOs the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development developed some Policy Guidelines for Financial Support to Non- Governmental Organisations. According to the PAC report, the guidelines were meant to ensure that there is consistency, accountability and transparency in administering public funding to NGOs. However, the Ministry of Health did not comply with the very important guidelines.
“The main areas of non-compliance were the following: (i) There was no Evaluation Committee to vet proposals from NGOs, in some instances NGOs had formed part of the evaluation forum when their requests were being considered,” the report says. It says there was continued funding of NGOs even when they failed to submit narrative and financial progress reports; and (iv) Continued funding of NGOs that failed to submit audited financial statements and management letters as required. The Committee expressed concern at the lapses in the administration of grants by the Ministry despite the large sums of public money awarded to these NGOs.
The Kasane Regional Magistrate Court refused this week to rule on whether three Namibians and their Zambian cousin shot dead by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) were in possession of a rifle or not prior to their deaths.
Ruling in favour of the BDF members, Regional Magistrate Taboka Mopipi who presided over the inquest said, “It is acknowledged that no rifle has been produced before court to confirm that indeed the deceased were armed and or that there was indeed a gun shot.” She said the evidence before the court is that search for the rifle(s) that allegedly triggered the gunfire exchange was done by both Namibia and Botswana SCUBA divers and nothing was found. She said when the said search was done, an area of search was demarcated around the scene area which was partly searched due to water animals such as hippos that launched an attack at the area during the search.
“The search was therefore never concluded. This therefore leaves a gap. To that end, the area not extensively searched, the court cannot make a finding whether the rifle in issue was there or not. This is a very crucial piece of evidence,” added Mopipi. She said the joint search did not conclude the exercise and I cannot properly make a finding of fact adding that that the rifle was there as the BDF allege can therefore not be ruled out.
The deceased are Martin Munilweye Nchindo, Ernest Nchindo, Tommy Sinvula Nchindo and Sivula Munyeme. The four deceased persons died on the night of the 5th November 2020, in the waters of the Chobe River (Southern Channel) near Sedudu/Kasikili Island in Botswana. Mopipi said the incident took place at night, in a gloomy atmosphere and that as at the time, movement in that particular area was restricted and or not permitted.
She said it was the evidence of some of the witnesses that the injuries as observed on the four deceased reflected that they were brutally assaulted and or beaten either before or after being shot. “Their evidence gained support from Witness 34, Dr. Bithoma Thotho Amis who observed post mortem on behalf of the families of the deceased and Government of Namibia. This witness however conceded during cross-examination that the injuries as observed have been caused by other contacts and or impacts such as falling and hitting the hard surface of a wooden canoe,” said Mopipi.
She emphasized that inquest proceedings have very serious consequences and therefore, whatever evidence brought before court must be produced by persons of right qualifications particularly the post mortem report which the court has to rely upon. “The qualification of the expert is crucial in determining the credibility of the report. Upon assessment of both experts, I am inclined to adopt the reports from Witness 18, who is a qualified pathologist. A closer look at the other report indicates that the author, Witness 34 is not a qualified pathologist and it is meddled by issues outside an expert opinion,” she said.
Mopipi said reports compiled by a consultant Forensic Pathologist Dr. Kaone Panzirah-Mabaka show the causes of death as follows; Sivula Munyeme, gunshot injury to the chest and extremities, Martin Nchindo, gunshot wound to the abdomen and pelvis, Ernest Nchindo, multiple gunshot injuries to the chest and extremities and Tommy Nchindo, gunshot wound to the chest and abdomen.
“Medical evidence therefore prove conclusively that the four deceased persons died due to gunshots injuries. It is undisputed that the injuries were inflicted by seven (7) members of the Botswana Defence Force; Lieutenant Moreri Kenneth Mphela, Sergeant Ndingisano Nfazo, Sergeant Puisano Pistor Kgokong, Private Mbikiso Tafila, Private Emmanuel Moganetsi Majuta, Private Barulaganyi Rannosang and Private Oromilwe Motlhabi,” said Mopipi.
Mopipi found that there was a gunshot from the direction of the men to the direction of the BDF section. “The BDF members retaliated and returned fire. This was done in accordance with Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) within the BDF. According to the SOPs, in case a soldier is being fired at, they fire back and do not have to wait for a command,” she said. She added that “The gunfire exchange was brief and after it ceased, they used a torch to light where the men were and established that all the four men were motionless, two in one canoe, one in the other and the other man lying on the edge of the river on the Island.”
She said, “The evidence of the witnesses is that, when they followed the intel, the intent was to conduct an investigation. There was clearly no intent on their part to shoot the deceased, they did that as an act of retaliation.”