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Tshekedi unhappy with Masisi decision

Following President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi’s decisions to transfer some of his ministers to new portfolios in a cabinet reshuffle this week, the, Tshekedi Khama has stated that he was happier at the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism than where the president wants him.

Masisi transferred Khama to Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development in a move seen as a demotion on the younger brother to the former president Lt. Gen Ian Khama. The animosity between Masisi and Khama has played itself out in the open with both of them admitting to it in their separate pronouncements starting with Masisi confirming in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) which Khama also did in his loaded response to the insinuations.  

The removal of Tshekedi Khama from the Ministry of Tourism which is seen as one of the most powerful ministries in the country as it contributes to the country’s revenue as the second biggest income earner after the diamonds. When speaking to Weekend Post after the reshuffle on Friday, the younger Khama maintained that: “I believe my passion was at the tourism ministry and it was unmatched. Surely we were growing something there. Our reputation under tourism as a country has never been where it is. So the reshuffle surely affected me.”

According to Tshekedi, he still believes, “if I was allowed to stay a bit longer at the ministry, until the next 2019 General Elections I would be happy. We were going to finish our roadmap which we have started six years back.” He said while he respects the decision by President Masisi, it was unexpected as he thought he was doing a good job at the ministry. He acknowledged that the President can move ministers as and when he wants.

“I thought what we have done in the tourism ministry in the last six years or so has never been achieved by anyone before in the country,” he said. According to Tshekedi, under his tutelage they have accomplished 38 awards as “I gave it my all” and “I loved the ministry and people were also happy.”

TSHEKEDI REMOVED BECAUSE OF KHAMAS VESTED INTERESTS IN TOURISM?

When asked by this publication whether he is unhappy with the transfer because of his vested interests in the tourism sector he easily rubbed it off. “I have no shares in any tourism entity. There are some cabinet ministers who have interests there. Nna I don’t. That they have is their choices. As long as you declare when you are conflicted,” the Serowe West legislator fumed. Tshekedi declined to comment when quizzed if he does not see this as demotion from a powerful ministry to a lesser authoritative one and whether that signals his relationship with Masisi may be on a downward spiral.

He only said: “I don’t know Masisi’s reasons for this cabinet transfers. But it doesn’t matter. For me, that’s not demotion as some people want to suggest.” When pressed further on Masisi he emphasised: “I won’t comment on the issue of Masisi targeting me in the reshuffle. Tota nna and Masisi, we never had any dispute or argument on anything. So, I think people who are peddling these are doing so purely based on politics.”The main challenge for Tshekedi as pointed out is that of time factor as they only have nine months to the next elections and that is not a lot of time.

He added that he also takes over the ministry with the budget that is not his. On his new assignment at the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tshekedi observed that he takes the challenge. “I take the challenge to the new ministry. Botswana is relatively a youth country as the population of youth under 25 years is approximately 60 percent and that’s where power is. It’s a challenge that the population which makes the majority remain unemployed. Youth want to be independent and they don’t want to live with handouts,” he lashed out. He also asserted that his position on youth has always been that youth should be involved in development as they are the future of a country.

OLOPENG TO PULL THE BULL BY THE HORNS AT THE NEW MINISTRY OF TERTIARY

On his part, the outgoing Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development Thapelo Olopeng told Weekend Post separately that as the new Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology he will be merely a leader and not a lecturer at those institutions he will be heading as naysayers want to purport.

He dismissed his critics saying they should take a seat: “we need to understand what leadership is. I won’t be a lecturer at any university but a minister, we have permanent Secretaries and their deputies, Directors and lecturers who are well qualified to do the hands on.”
Olopeng emphasised that his Permanent Secretaries are the crucial technocrats that will make sure that they deliver on their mandate.

He said: “I understand the challenges. I know both the two Education ministries are challenging but I know I will make it. I will work hard to make a difference at the ministry. The first thing is to understand the challenges. And how to mitigate them. I will consult. The technocrats will do the technical work and I will facilitate.” The new Tertiary minister further took a swipe at those that doubt his capabilities at the ministry saying he is unqualified when asked by this reporter saying they will eat a humble pie.

Let them judge me, he says adding that if they are honest with themselves they should give him three months to show them the results of the direction he wants to give to the ministry. “People say all these things on social media like facebook because it’s where everything goes. Let them judge me. They should give me three months and surely they will eat a humble pie. Ga ke batle go ipoka. I believe in tangible results. I will humble those naysayers with the amount of exposure I have in leadership.”

Apart from Tshekedi and Olopeng, Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi also announced that other cabinet transfers made by President Masisi includes the Minister of Transport and Communications, Kitso Mokaila who has been transferred to head the Minister of Environment , Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism filling the shoes of Tshekedi Khama.

Minister of Nationality Immigration and Gender Affairs, Dorcas Makgato takes over the Minister of Transport and Communications from Mokaila. Masisi also redeployed the former Minister of Tertiary Education Research Science and Technology Honourable Ngaka Ngaka to become the new Minister of Nationality Immigration and Gender Affairs which was previously under Makgato. Masisi has made the redeployments to take effect immediately.

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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