Leader of Opposition in parliament and president of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Duma Gideon Boko has finally sent the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) to the backwoods of opposition politics.
Boko said he took the decision to expel the BMD together with the leadership of other affiliate parties Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). BMD has been given 30 days to appeal to the UDC national congress. Speaking at a press conference this week to announce the expulsion, the UDC leader said “we took the decision after careful examination of the BMD response that they failed to address the accusations levelled against them. That the totality of those accusations indicates that they acted against the interest of the UDC and in violation of the UDC constitution.”
Boko also asserted that their conduct subsequent to their suspension “exhibited total disregard and disrespect for the leadership of the UDC, its processes and structures.” And, he further pointed out that “the entirety of their conduct merits serious attention by the UDC and the decision was then taken that the BMD be and is expelled from the UDC.”
The UDC leader emphasised to the press that therefore it is the decision and it is in terms of the UDC constitution that they have the right of appeal within 30 days to the national congress of the UDC. “It is for them to exercise those rights if they so wish to do,” Boko lambasted. He also said that they know fully and understand that prior to reaching the decision they are certain that processes have been engaged in various places, wards, certain representatives, and that councillors have been given due processes from their respective organisations to represent the UDC.
He added that all those processes have concluded that in relation to the BMD that certain councillors that were identified and went through the due process should continue to represent the UDC. He said of the BMD councillors: “such councillors remain protected as representatives of the UDC now going forward. They will not lose their status as councillors of the UDC. We make special mention of this so that people don’t get alarmed. People understand that those who have gone through primary elections and have been identified remain in post ready to represent.”
Why the BMD is ultimately expelled
In justifying why BMD was eventually expelled, Boko said that the BMD misbehaved following their suspension. We raised with them certain issues that in terms of our constitution we categorise as acting against the interest of the UDC, he highlighted. “The BMD held a number of rallies after suspension. You know tenderness sometimes you allow some people a little of space to experience what is it outside the fold and how life is. And I hope comrades have realised and learned a few lessons. At least at that time they were on suspension and they have been given time to respond and they have responded,” Boko said.
The Gaborone Bonnington North leader added that now the situation is different as they are now expelled and UDC will engage with them as non-members of the party and deal with any behaviour that purports to be any representative of the UDC if it is undertaken by non-members and that they will deal with those. He added that but they cannot anticipate what the BMD might do or say.
Boko further explained: “as long as you are not in the fold but outside what right do you have then that you represent yourself as part of the collective? The collective can decide whether it wants you or doesn’t; whether you serve its interest or not; and whether you have acted against those interests. It is a political question whether you act in the interest of the UDC and it is also a decision to be taken politically.”
The BNF leader observed that the only quarrel one might have is if they have taken that political decision procedurally and “I believe we have.” Boko stressed that when the collective takes that decision to say it is not in the interest of the UDC then “no court in the world can say this is in the interest of the UDC. It’s not a call for the court to make but it is for the UDC to make. Courts don’t run political parties. Courts have even said it many times that politicians must not run to courts when they cannot take political decisions.”
Boko said the decision to expel BMD took only a paltry one hour
The leader of Opposition in parliament reminisced that leading to the suspension and ultimate expulsion, the UDC NEC pointed to certain matters that were put to them and gave them time to respond. They were to respond by the 18th of October 2018 and they did respond on the date, Boko confirmed while adding that the UDC NEC then met on Wednesday in Francistown to deliberate on BMD verdict.
He continued “meeting was efficient, we started at 3pm and looked at the issues in the most efficient manner and was done in about an hour. So let’s misspell the myth that we were there until midnight.” He said they looked at the response from the BMD and in that response what was transversed at length was what they call procedural and technical objections. Boko said one of them they say is that the BCP is not a member of the UDC.
“I have dealt with this issues so many times at different for and I have put it to rest. It’s dead and buried. BCP is a member of the UDC. We have held many meetings with the BCP. We even held a constitutional congress with the BCP in full attendance and participation. We hold the firm view and we are unmoved that the BCP is a member.” The BPP, he said has also participated fully in all the processes and decisions that have led to the BMD expulsion.
Galebotswe, Kapinga, Bayford to lead UDC national safety, security
In the process of preparing 2019 manifesto Boko said they have identified the Vice President of the UDC Dumelang Saleshando as the focal person in the leadership who will spearhead the preparation and issue of the manifesto. As part of that process, “we have set up a team that will advise the UDC leadership on issues of national safety and security. I want to announce that team here and now. We have Lt. Gen Gaolatlhe Galebotswe, immediate former commander of the BDF. Second is Kenny Kapinga and last is Dick Bayford. That’s the team that will be handling advice to the leadership of the UDC on national safety and security and involved in manifesto of such matters.”
UDC to take over BMD constituencies
In relation to BMD legislators, Gilbert Mangole representing Mochudi West and Molepolole South’s Tlamelo Mmatli, Boko said the first category is that the two sitting MP’s remain BMD and UDC until they themselves pronounce whether they are still on UDC ticket or another. “Their situation don’t change until they change it themselves or the UDC doing it if it has to because it still can.”
The second category, he added that it is of constituencies given to the BMD and which remain in that situation because as they say the BMD has 30 days to appeal to the congress and they must be given time and that period to exercise their choice. “After the 30 days, if they don’t appeal, the constituencies will now be looked at by the UDC as they are held by the constituent party for and on behalf of the UDC. After then we will find the candidates regardless of where they come from, and we will deploy them and facilitate that they represent the UDC,” he said.
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.
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.
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.”