Tati East legislator Samson Moyo Guma who is also a member of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) has lambasted Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama together with Defence Justice and Security minister Shaw Kgathi over laxness in dealing with Zimbabwe government in fighting the Foot and Mouth (FMD) scourge.
The infuriated legislator spewed venom at the appearance of Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security at before PAC this week. His gripe with the duo emanates from the bilateral agreement between government of Zimbabwe and Botswana that should local cattle cross to the Zimbabwe side; they must be shot while Zimbabwe cattle should be returned home if they cross into Botswana.
This, he said, contributes to the continuous spread of the Foot and Mouth disease which threatens the local economy, the beef sector to be precise. He said if this is a serious national issue like the Permanent Secretary at the ministry Jimmy Opelo put it, then ministers involved should move out of the comfort of offices and show commitment.
“Kgathi [Shaw] does not see the urgency in dealing with this matter but it starts from his constituency [Bobirwa] up to Matsiloje. Minister of Environment [Tshekedi Khama] is also dragging his feet, same thing with the minister of Agriculture Patrick Ralotsia,” Guma said. “I continue, there is no commitment from government including you officers. Your ministers find it difficult to come there and appreciate issues first hand. It is like re ba kolota botshelo. They should get out of the offices and go there. Maybe you should go and tell HE [President Mokgweetsi Masisi] about this,” Guma said to the quiet house.
The main reason Guma dragged the two ministers into the issue is the fact that the FMD matter is related to the two ministers. Soldiers under Kgathi are expected to guard and patrol the borders but they are failing because of elephants. On the other hand, the matter also borders on tourism issues as elephants are ravaging the fence erected to stop movements of cattle to and from Zimbabwe, something which Guma expects minister Khama to address.
It is said elephants wander this country in search of water and in process demolishing the fence which then makes it easy for cattle to follow over for grazing and water. Opelo together with Director of Veterinary Services Letlhogile Modisa had a torrid time in responding to Guma’s enquiries.
“We should admit honorable member that there is no coordination between the ministries but we have started to collaborate in coming up with holistic approach. We have already met with our counterparts from ministry of environment two months back but we are yet to draft a guiding plan,” said Opelo. Modisa also emphasised the need for a collective effort in dealing with the issue. “This is a big problem we should admit and it needs collective responsibility with concerted efforts.”
BMC MONOPOLY NEARS END
Still at the session it was revealed that Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has parted ways with CEO Dr Akolang Tombale. As it is, the ministry is awaiting conclusive recommendations as to who should now head the parastatal. PAC member Ndaba Gaolathe also asked about the liberalisation of the beef industry as it is now the trend in other countries.
“For now I would not have a direct answer but we have documents agreeing with you. Liberalisation will come, but I wouldn’t say when. We are only awaiting one component if unlocked all others will go-amendment of legislation hopefully in the next sitting of parliament,” said Opelo. It was revealed that presently, BMC is not financially sound despite the government’s decision to turn their loan into equity. On other abattoirs, the cabinet has issued a directive that the Maun abattoir and Francistown be ran by government while Lobatse abattoir will operate independently alone.
MILLIONS SPENT ON ISPAAAD
Efforts by the ministry to determine the cost benefit analysis of Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) has failed following the contractual dispute with the consultant awarded the work. Opelo could not furnish the PAC with the amount spent by far on the programme.
“We had the intention to do the cost benefit analysis but we had disputes with the consultants at inception stage and as per the advice from the Attorney General we were told to set aside the case as millions if not billions have already spent on the programme,” he responded to the question posed by Gaolathe.
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.