The Leader of Opposition (LOO) Advocate Duma Boko has said it is about time President Mokgweetsi Masisi accounts for corruption milking this country’s economy.When responding to the Masisi’s inaugural State of Nation Address (SONA), Boko stated that the country is still swindled with corruption that need to be accounted for.
The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president said the current president took office when the country was mired in corruption and cruel waste of public resources arguing that the National Petroleum Fund saga is still fresh in people’s minds therefore needs to be addressed. “The state was swindled no less than 240 million pula. So far only three pawns in a grand scheme are facing prosecution,” Boko explains.
The leader of opposition argued that the President has become a recurrent decimal in the NPF saga. He boldly pointed that Masisi should account and face up to answers Batswana long to hear when it comes to corruption.He suggested that the solution to these is a comprehensive and thorough forensic audit of the NPF with all procedures and processes related to its management and operation.
“We reject any process that would place the President in any position of control over such audit,” he said. Boko referred to the Morupule B project and how it gobbled up in excess of P 10 billion of public resources with no results to show and yet no one has been held accountable. “In excess of P300 million was thrown down the drain in Palapye’s ill-fated glass project,” Boko said. Adding on to the Morupule B project failure, Boko said that the BDP and all its Members of Parliament (MPs) have the blood of innocent citizens on their hands.
“We know that more than 10 miners committed suicide as a result of the closure of BCL. About 20 000 BCL related jobs were lost in Selibe Phikwe and thousands more people in the rest of the SPEDU region have been thrown into poverty,” he emphasised.Boko worried that the President found space in his SONA for micro projects in other areas but could not find space to openly and publicly apologize to and empathise with the people of Selibe Phikwe over the government’s termination of the mainstay of their economy.
“Government have a duty to defend jobs. Your government failed the people of Selibe Phikwe and its environs. BCL needed U$ 2 million (about P21 million) to stay afloat until the market normalised, but the government shut it down. The human cost of the decision is yet to be determined,” he pointed out.
Government closed BCL against the advice of management and experts outside the company, without any rigorous cost-benefit analysis. Boko says at the time of closure the price of copper was US$ 2/lb., below BCL’s projected trading price. Commodities were needed to rebound and BCL needed US$ 2 million to stay afloat.Boko directly took shots at the Masisi for not being serious about fighting corruption.
“Over at the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund, millions of worker’s pension investments have been plundered and wasted, with the President’s chief aide frequently linked to impropriety in this saga. Yet in his SONA the President speaks passively about anti-corruption. He says oversight institutions continue to enforce the rule of law. Which rule of law? ” Boko adds. Clarifying on the issue of corruption the opposition leader said corruption in the country is pervasive and institutionalised referring it to a prominent feature of the state of the nation.
“We would like to see your government getting tough on corruption and that involves investigating all the BDP big wigs who have ever been awarded a tender by government as well as all those who have been served and continue to serve in the boards of State-owned enterprises,” he said. Boko said the country is facing a serious human development crisis and a gravely imperilled future, noting that the country is sitting on a powder keg of pervasive poverty, debilitating unemployment, deepening inequality and increasing despair.
“Nearly one in five Batswana subsist below the official poverty line. An almost equal proportion of citizens who want to work and are able to work (17.7 percent) are without a job,” Boko added. Furthermore, he condemned the rejection by the Parliament, supposedly at the instigation of Masisi, of the decent/living wage of P3000 tabled by Shaun Nthaile early this year.
“We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to a decent /living wage of P3000. We call upon this government to commit to this decent/living wage and the pursuit of a high wage economy. It is an ethical and economic imperative for work to provide sufficient income for working people to meet essential costs of living,” Boko pleaded. In conclusion the leader of the opposition pleaded with the public to register in large numbers to vote. He said it is essential that they practice their democratic right.“To the people of this country I say please register to vote in large numbers, so you can participate in the opportunity of a lifetime,” Boko concluded.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.