As part of the electioneering strategy for Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), legislators have called on President Mokgweetsi Masisi to increase Constituency Fund budget arguing that doing so will earn the party votes in the October general elections.
The plea according to those privy to developments was made last week and was emphasised this week at the party meeting with Vice President Slumber Tsogwane asked to relay the message to his superior, President Masisi. The appeal according to its proponents, majority of MPs, will work wonders for the BDP in the October elections later this year. BDP MPs propose that the fund be increased from P10 million to P20 million per constituency.
This, they say, will ensure their constituencies push a number of developmental agendas and backlog projects. Should the members succeed in their request; the government will now spend a whooping P1.1 billion on the initiative from the current budget of P570 million. The P570 constituency fund was introduced during former President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s administration. Constituency Funds is arranged in the way that it channels money from central government directly to electoral constituencies for local infrastructure projects.
Initially, many, including BDP politicians were sceptical on the whole idea positing that it is a scheme vulnerable to corruption and abuse. However, BDP members have somersaulted and now want it increased as it has proved popular among electorates. “We have discussed this issue and suggested to the powers to the leadership that funds permitting the government must look at this initiative and increase its budget,” said a source.
“For now the suggestion was it should be increased from P10 to P20 million because since its inception a number of communal projects have been pushed. These are the developments that are not in the National Development Plans or that will take time to be included in the NDP in the near future.” These recommendations were among litany of those that electorates have furnished their parliamentary representatives with in various meetings organised when parliament was in recession prior to the current sitting.
Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay has acknowledged discussing the matter saying, “it was recommendations from the members to President Masisi who was not at the meeting. There were other suggestions which included shoot to kill (elephants) and creating economic programs for the middle-aged”. Despite assuring the legislators that this matter and many others including his feud with his predecessor Khama will be discussed this week, Masisi could not make it to the meeting which was held momentarily.
MPs are confident that Masisi will listen to them on the matter and hopefully give them a satisfactory answer. “This is not about us it is about the party. Voters out there believe in the projects which were started last year because they saw improvement in a number of them. So continuity is a must this time around more so its election year,” added another meeting attendee.
Legislators are of the view that this initiative could make it easy even in constituencies that considered opposition stronghold, “because this is the idea of BDP not opposition and voters should be made aware of that fact.” Last year appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) Boipolelo Khumomatlhare revealed that they are in the process of reviewing the initiative.
“It has been said in the past that programs like Ipelegeng and lately constituency fund should be reviewed. It is difficult to say, but, yes, they should be reviewed. But they can be coordinated in a manner that they could help in the National Development Plan or District Development Plan,” he said.
The Constituency Fund focuses on seven areas: Environment (planting of trees, cleaning the environment and establishment of parks in open spaces); Public Health (public health seminars, mobile clinics and improvement of health infrastructure); Education (extra-lessons for struggling students and additional facilities for schools, students and teachers); Sports and the Arts (sports and arts training clinics for the youth, aiding access to sporting, arts and music facilities, coordination of events and development of sport fields);
Community Safety and Security (coordination of neighborhood-watch initiatives, procurement of security cameras and others); Infrastructure (financing of backlogs in infrastructure projects, including sewerage, dilapidated schools, clinics, and roads); and Small, Medium Enterprise and Business Development (training of hawkers and business-people on management and facilitating business development by supporting initiatives for access to funding and markets).
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.