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BDP MPs demand retreat with Masisi

With the ruckus between President Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi and his predecessor Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama unabating, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Members of Parliament are making all the moves to get the two leaders to talk.

This week, at the party’s weekly caucus they pushed Vice President Slumber Tsogwane to the wall, demanding that he get the President to organize a party retreat. President Masisi and former President Khama are currently not seeing eye to eye, with the President indicating that the transition between him and the man who gave him the baton has not been smooth; while on the other hand Khama suggesting that the President is misleading the nation with his assertions because, according to him, transition completed on 1st April 2018.

However the BDP Members of Parliament are not interested on who between the two men is right, their main concern is the 2019 general election. They are of the view that the conflict between Masisi and Khama is particularly unhealthy for the party on the eve of an election that is likely to be hotly contested. They want the two leaders to smoke the peace pipe and focus on garnering votes for the BDP.

This past week President Masisi came clean on what could be the source of this friction, stating at a Parliamentary caucus that the former President had made a suggestion that he appoint Tshekedi Khama his Vice President when he takes over. He deducts that his decision to appoint a different person, Slumber Tsogwane, as his Vice President could have rubbed President Khama the wrong way. President Masisi has made it clear that he never had a deal with anyone and he does not owe anyone anything.

On the other hand former President Khama has dismissed suggestions that he had tried to extract a promise from President Masisi that he will appoint his brother, Tshekedi Khama Vice President of the country. He made it clear that if Tshekedi Khama has presidential ambitions he should pursue on a personal capacity.

President Masisi believes that Khama’s active lifestyle in matters coincidental to politics is hurting and dividing the party. He says he has tried to bring peace between the two of them by engaging BDP elders to mediate but there seems to be no end in sight. This he has even shared in his State of the Nation Address on November 5th.

However the BDP Members of Parliament have made it clear to Tsogwane that they want a party retreat where the President, the former President, the elders, Members of Parliament, Councillors, and other party structures such as the Central Committee and regional leaders will be presented so that the rift between the two leaders may be put to rest.

The legislators are worried that the party may fail to meet its projections next year because of the conflict between Masisi and Khama. They were confident that with a divided opposition, the election was BDP’s lose. Some of the MPs who spoke at the party parliamentary caucus made it clear to Tsogwane, who was non-committal on the granting the retreat, that the performance of the BDP at next year’s general election is highly dependent on how President Masisi and predecessor get along.

The MPs made suggestions that those fueling the rift may be working for the opposition or simply not having the interest of the party at heart. For his part, Vice President Tsogwane is said to have told the Members of Parliament that he will engage the President on the matter and give them feedback. It remains to be seen if President Masisi will accede to the MPs’ request, owing to the statements he is said to have already made at party caucus and recently in an interview with a weekend publication.

Some of the statements he  made were almost explosive statement, Masisi also said to have shared a strategy which he says outlines plans to remove him as a presidents and create enough chaos leading to the BDP congress so that Tshekedi Khama  is made president. His comments come as there is a mounting speculation that the BDP may support a motion of No Confidence on the President, of which Slumber Tsogwane will become the acting president till the national elections slated for October next year.

It is suggested that Tshekedi Khama will be his Vice President which after the election he will then become the president. Confirmed reports are that indeed factions loyal to Khama have sold the idea to Slumber Tsogwane. Slumber then sold the dummy to the faction as if it is something that he will think about it, only for him to straight away inform Masisi of the dangerous plan.

Reports within the BDP further suggest that a faction loyal to Khama has formed, all having something in common- feeling betrayed by Masisi. This faction is confident that they have the numbers this time around to remove Masisi. They point out that the last Motion of No Confidence did not see the light of the day because it was rushed and it had a wrong sponsor being the opposition. This time around, they want the motion to be led by the BDP itself. However for them to succeed in removing Masisi, the said BDP faction is also relying on opposition MPs.

But Masisi has dismissed what he calls “cynics” and is confident that he shall be on the driving seat for the next decade or so. Different BDP factions have been posturing themselves to the different ruling parties of the region as the go-to faction. Ruling parties of the region are important to the BDP in general for credibility, but more importantly to the African National Congress (ANC) as a source of business and campaign funding.

Apart from the BDP, the Botswana Defence Force is also said to be a split between those for Khama, and those for the sitting president Masisi. A campaign of ‘’we do not bow to a civilian’’ is making rounds within the barracks. The slogan is a derogative army term towards those who haven’t served in the army. These are seen a less qualified to lead. Some BDP Members of Parliament who spoke to this publication are confident that they will force President Masisi and former President Khama to the table for a clean talk.

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Jackdish Shah loses interest in BDP

17th May 2022
Jackdish

As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.

According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.

According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.

“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.

BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.

Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.

Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.

BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.

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Govt ignores own agreements to improve public service

17th May 2022
Govt

The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.

Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.

In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made.
“Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.

Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25

They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.

In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations.  The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.

The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.

The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.

The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public
“Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.

Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.

The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.

“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).

The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.

Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.

A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service.
Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.

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Health Expert rejects ‘death rates’ links to low population growth

17th May 2022
Health-Expert

A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.

He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.

Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.

Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates.
“The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.

This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.

That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”

Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.

“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.

The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.

According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu

For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”

The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.

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