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.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has been touring the entire world since occupying Presidential office in 2018. Few months down the line, he flew to Florida in the United States of America where he landed at the Disney World.
This is the world’s largest entertainment complex opened in 1971, with four theme parks (consisting of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom).
Upon his return in the country from the fairytale land, Masisi said Botswana struck a partnership with Disney World. The partnership primarily focused on turning the country’s capital, Gaborone, into an international tourism and leisure destination.
“We have struck a partnership with Disney World as a company. They focus on making people happy and bringing tourists. I want tourists in this country. Visa restrictions are out. They will be issued on arrival. I have tasked Minister Makgato’s Ministry to categorize taxis so that there can be value in the taxi industry.
I am very committed to making Gaborone an international venue center and this will bring revenue to our country,” Masisi said at the time. Masisi, has now appointed Makgato as Botswana’s High Commissioner – designate to the Commonwealth of Australia.
However, two years later, there is no sign of Gaborone being turned into a tourism hub. In fact, the partnership Masisi struck with Disney World never emerged. It is now becoming more of a pipeline dream, and politicians are keen to know what really transpired.
In a dramatic turn of events, Masisi’s flanking Minister, Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng, slammed Vice President Slumber Tsogwane with questions on this said ghost partnership, demanding answers on Masisi’s long dead promise.
Vice President Tsogwane told Parliament on Thursday that Masisi was looking for investors to come and do business in Botswana, either in partnership with government or the private sector.
“The President and his delegation engaged in meetings with the management of Disney World to identify opportunities for the company to collaborate with in Botswana. There were a number of opportunities Mr. Speaker for collaboration that were identified to be followed up with by bilateral negotiations with various institutions.
The key area that was identified for collaboration was the implementation of an enhanced customer care training and development akin to that of Disney World.
The Botswana Public Service College was assigned to collaborate with Disney World, to roll out a training programme which will achieve excellent customer service for the public sector in Botswana, Tsogwane said via virtual Parliament.
He further said representatives of Disney World visited Botswana on a fact finding mission in May 2019.
“While in Botswana, the team toured selected sites such as Gaborone bus rank, Tlokweng Boarder post, and Department of Roads, Training and Safety offices amongst others. Following this, Disney World produced a scoping report which detailed training and engagement timelines for consideration by government,” said Tsogwane.
In fulfilment of their procurement requirement, Tsogwane said Disney Institute was requested to submit a proposal based on their scoping report indicating associated cost implications. He said, Disney declined to submit citing that it does not deal directly with government.
“After being advised by their Disney World Board, they therefore advised Botswana government to deal with another company in the United States of America, which according to them does the Disney World way. This never proceeded because our interest was on Disney World and not any other company that point in time.”
As a result, Tsogwane told Parliament that no deal or contract was signed with Disney World. “The issue of easing of restrictions which is part of the question, between any two countries is a matter that is negotiated through diplomatic channels and whenever agreements are reached, proper communication is made. With regard to Visa restrictions between Botswana and the US, Tsogwane says they will continue discussions on how to ease restrictions,” he said on Thursday.
Morwaeng wanted Tsogwane to update Parliament on: Government’s deal with Disney World, the terms of the deal propounded by the President in March 2019; Whether the deal was signed, when it was signed and clear specifics of the deal and its benefits to Botswana tourism; when visa restrictions between the two countries (Botswana and the United States of America) will be eased and visas issued on arrival as per the Disney World deal pronouncement; and If the deal struck with Disney World was not just mere electioneering talk that will never see the light of the day.
Despite the government of Botswana’s ambition to have one of its own to lead Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) since its establishment in 1980, the Presidency says there is no budget specifically dedicated to the campaign.
The Government has released the name of Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Mpedi Magosi, as the candidate for the SADC Executive Secretary position. Magosi is expected to face off with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) candidate, Faustin Mukela. The position will become vacant in August this year.
However, despite the optimism the Botswana Government has not yet set aside a budget to assist Magosi to win against the seemingly DRC giant. “We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the country’s ability to effectively fund any new project. This campaign is not an exception. As such, we do not have any budget for the campaign. However, we have so far managed to take advantage of His Excellency the President’s working visits to the neighbouring countries to also carry out the campaigns,” Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang, explained.
Botswana has housed SADC since the establishment of the then SADCC in 1980, but has never occupied top most leadership positions at the SADC Secretariat. “We therefore, strongly believe that we should also have an opportunity to contribute to the management of our regional body as it continues to drive the important issues of regional integration industrialization and socio-economic development.
This will also profile Botswana as a strong advocate of regional integration,” he responded to this publication’s questionnaire as to why the Government wants to occupy the plum post. SADC is a Member State driven organization. As such, Leagajang said, needs a well-grounded Executive Secretary with a blend of management and leadership acumen; a transformational leader with political awareness and integrity; private and public sector experience; a deep culture of corporate governance; as well as strategic agility and result-oriented consummate diplomat.
“These are the unique attributes of our candidate,” he said. So far President Mokgweetsi Masisi has visited nine out of 16 SADC member states on a working visit and also taking an opportunity to present to them his candidate.
“The countries have appreciated this effort and we remain hopeful. However, it is important to note that this is a democratic and competitive process which must be respected,” he responded when asked about the reception and assurances from various countries to cast a vote for Magosi.
In 2018, when Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi challenged for the Africa Union (AU) Chairperson, the government appointed former President Festus Mogae to be the campaign leader. Does the Government have anyone apart from Masisi to help with the campaign?
“The campaigns for the candidate are strictly led by the Government of Botswana. Since this is a candidate for Botswana, not just the Government, it will be appreciated if all Batswana, including the media, could also shoulder the responsibility to campaign for the candidate in their own spheres of influence,” Leagajang responded.
While there are sceptics on Magosi winning against the DRC man, the Government is confident and believes that with the unique traits that he possess, Magosi stands a chance. He is said to be a strong advocate of justice and fairness as he has played this role in his current role as PSP and in his previous roles as PS and in the private sector. He has helped individuals and companies to find justice and fairness in most of their dealings with Government.
Magosi is also said to be a proponent of corporate governance and which he has relentlessly pursued in most of his career including in Government and other sectors. A strong believer in following laid down procedures and laws. “He carries a variety of skills as an HR expert with experience in different sectors, a strategist and an Organization development specialist.
His experience and exposure spans government, parastatal, private sector and at regional level as well, thus making him a suitable candidate for the regional role. He has worked with governments, businesses, development partners and politicians and is comfortable navigating through all of them,” Leagajang concluded.
The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila looked a politician set to shoot the moon as he laid bare his billions of pula development agenda recently in Parliament.
His Ministry’s combined Recurrent and Development Budget Proposals for the 2021/ 2022 Financial Year is pegged at Four Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty – Five Million, two Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P4, 365, 219, 560). This is a budget 38.3% more than the allocation for the 2020/2021 Financial Year.
Mzwinila preluded his request to parliament with a demonstration that his Ministry has no champagne taste on a beer budget – indicating that his ministry’s expenditure at the end of February 2021P2.111 Billion or 96% of development budget; and P910 million or 90% of the recurrent budget.
Notwithstanding the budget dust, the Minister justified this year’s increase in the Ministry’s total budget. He attributed the escalation to the commencement of major projects under the water sector. These include the implementation of the North South Carrier (NSC) 22.2 covering various sub projects. Mzwinila noted that these are all public value projects which are aimed at improving the lives of Batswana.
Mzwinila’s Ministry has projected that the sum of Nine Hundred and Sixty –Three Million, Nine Hundred and Forty – Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P963, 947, 560) be permitted for the Recurrent Budget and stand part of the 2021 / 2022 Appropriation Bill ( No. 1 of 2021).
“55% of the Recurrent Budget is geared towards the Revenue Support Grant for 12 Land Boards and their subordinate authorities while the sum of P5 Million is allocated to the Real Estate Advisory Council (REAC). The remaining 44% is proposed for the Ministry Departments.”
The sum of Three Billion, Four Hundred and One Million, Two hundred and Seventy –Two Thousand Pula (P3, 401, 272, 000), for the Development Budget was approved and stand part of the same schedule of the appropriation (2021/2022).
When breaking down the Development Budget, Minister Mzwinila noted that Water Supply and Sanitation projects will account for P1.098 Billion to finance the Maun Water and Sanitation project, Molepolole Sanitation projects and the Shakawe Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation.
With all the implementation bottlenecks troubling several projects in the country, Mzwinila had to satisfy the question of whether his Ministry demonstrated a dire need for the budget with reference to its execution of the budget for the financial year 2020/2021 and its delivery of strategic initiatives and projects?
Mzwinila’s pitch found favour with parliament and his ministry will get an aggregate budget of P3.198 Billion for the 2020/ 2021 Financial Year. Within this allocation, P2.188 Billion is for the Development Budget and P1.010 Billion will cover the Recurrent Budget.
The Minister revealed his strategic interventions for land management, water and sanitation services. Highlighting that efforts by Government to provide serviced residential land to citizens on the waiting list are being hampered by limited resources. He shared that his ministry needs P94 Billion to cover such costs which will directly link to water, sewage, roads, electricity, telecommunications and storm water drainage leading to the allocation of 4 587 plots on un-serviced land.
The minister projected that 22 952 un-serviced residential plots are planned to be allocated in the next financial year. However, there is a trend where allocated land remains fallow and undeveloped which raises misgivings that the requests could have been made on speculative plans.
Mzwinila noted that in the spirit of forging stronger International connections, the Ministry will in June 2021 sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Land matters between Namibia and Botswana with the aim of opening doors to the creation of Dry Ports in the country, facilitate international trade through Walvis Bay Sea Port.
Botswana is already challenged by scarcity of naturally occurring water resources due to the aridity of the country creating persistent water shortages. The type of infrastructure required to improve national water security is a true reflection of intensive investment needed in the water sector The Minister stressed.
“An emerging issue such as the COVID -19 pandemic poses serious challenges as the control of the virus requires reliable water supply. In an effort to mitigate the challenge, the Ministry has undertaken extensive bowsing throughout the country which included the provision of additional capacity for supplementary bowsing to areas with pervasive water shortages, plus an additional forty one (41) un-gazetted settlements.
Operational costs due to bowsing were at an average of P6 Million per month before the COVID-19 pandemic and increased to an unsustainable amount of the order of P13 Million per month, since the beginning of the State of Emergency in April 2020,” the minister shared.
Through the support of a World Bank Loan, the Ministry is implementing several initiatives under the Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency (BEWSE) project. Through BEWSE the Raw Water Pricing and Abstraction Strategy will assess the pricing of water in a manner that enables the provision of water to support new economic development, the strategy is planned to be completed in June 2021.
The Ministry has commenced the development of a long term National Water Security Strategy to improve resilience to climate change impacts. The strategy development entails prioritization of the proposed future mega water transfers such as the Chobe – Zambezi water transfer, the Atlantic Ocean water transfer to Botswana through Namibia and Lesotho – Botswana water transfer.
Following the signing of the tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa in November 2017 for the Lesotho –Botswana Water Transfer project, a 24 months contract for a combined prefeasibility and feasibility study for the development of a bankable Lesotho – Botswana Water Transfer project feasibility study was signed and is to be completed in 2022.
One of the Ministry’s famous major water supply projects such as the North South Carrier (NSC) 2.2 has experienced hiccups; having tenders for contract 1 (Masama to Mmamashia Pipeline) and Contract 2 (Mahalapye to Masama Pipeline) cancelled due to budgetary constraints.