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UDC is not the right vehicle for 2019 Elections – Saleshando

Charismatic Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader Dumelang Saleshando has stated that the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in its current form cannot win elections in 2019 General Elections.

Saleshando emphasised to Weekend Post in an interview this week that the UDC should re-formulate if they are to compete effectively in the coming elections of which the voter registration exercise commences this week. He said: “we are about to get into voter registration period, which is possibly the most critical stage of the campaign, and one finds it difficult to answer questions from the members of the public as to whether registering with intention to vote the UDC is a worthwhile undertaking.”

The BCP leader continued to point out that “I think at the end of the day, the fact is that we took long not to admit to the problems and I don’t think there is anyone who can say it is well in the UDC – it is unwell. It’s got to be fixed. If it can’t be fixed lets present a plan B to the nation.” According to Saleshando the UDC should accept now that this platform called the UDC may not be the right vehicle for 2019 General Elections and accept that there is instability and that they must explore an option B.

He told this publication: “the option B should ensure that at the bare minimum we should have the BNF and the BCP as strategic partners under one formation for 2019. It should not be an exclusive BCP/BNF arrangement but rather that, to the greatest extent possible, include other formations which in our view would add value without de-stabilising.” In terms of the model he said they will cross the bridge when they get there.

Saleshando: the nations is frustrated by the UDC tricks

The BCP leader continued: “I am genuinely frustrated by the impasse we find ourselves in. I am genuinely concerned about it. I even got people asking us whether the decision to join the UDC was really the right one.” “But I think we shouldn’t be asked such questions but they are being asked because the BMD leadership in particular is placing a number of bobby traps or roadblocks that make it difficult for the UDC,” Saleshando pointed out.

“We are not even walking; we are kraaling to 2019, as things stand. And I think our nation shares this frustration that we have long wanted an alternative and the opposition seems determined to deny us the alternative we need.” He added, “One can only say, maybe out of this dark cloud, and within the time remaining we can find a silver lining. But I think steps need to be taken.” So all these really point to the need for the opposition to get all its act together, he asserted.   


UDC lost support of labour movements

The former two time Gaborone Central legislator also observed that there is too much animosity in the UDC to the extent that it has lost a critical partner in the labour movement. He observed: “Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) it appears to me they have walked away quietly and that Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President Sidney Pilane talked about them and they dismissed him out rightly – which was more revealing.” According to Saleshando, the current UDC doesn’t even have the confidence of people that supported it in 2014 and chances are it may not do well at the next polls.

Saleshando’s position on BMD leader Sidney Pilane

Saleshando described Pilane as thus: “the facts speak for themselves. The issue of Pilane has broken hearts, lost hopes. If you follow Pilane’s footsteps, you will see a trail of broken hearts, broken dreams, broken aspirations; it’s a broken record, starting with the BMD, BMD Youth league, not even sure if there is BMD Women’s league to talk of under his leadership.”

Also in the UDC, the BCP President continued: “you will see a bloody trail; you will see blood stains everywhere there is Pilane or where he has walked with the UDC. The glory days that we had before he came on board, of those massive rallies, where there was new hope are no more.”

We now have or rather say the glory days are now replaced with what we saw in Gabane, Saleshando said adding that Pilane has now turned the UDC into World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and that he is forever happy to be called when there is another show of opportunity for muscles by one comrade on another.

According to the BMD leader, truth be told, in politics one of the things you really need is integrity but “I don’t think the BMD leadership brings that integrity that we need in the UDC.” People ask me everyday gore naare le isa kae Pilane? Meaning people ask why Pilane is still part of them in the UDC, he said.

“Pilane’s attitude can be understood to be in the context of the fact that he leads a party that split. And because he knows that organizationally he has been severely weakened. His aggression may be a strategy to avoid questions being asked about the BMD. But again we may choose to ignore that but in ignoring it; we are going to have a repeat of Moshupa by election.”

In Moshupa Saleshando said the BNF tried to appeal to the BMD that they have strong numbers and asked them to stand but they refused and went on to lose the area. So he believes the weakest link was presented as the face of the UDC and cautioned that if they continue like that, Moshupa will be replicated in a number of areas.

Saleshando also highlighted that the BMD leader has shown determination in taking steps to undermine UDC president Duma Boko’s leadership especially in terms of the contentious issue of UDC constitution. He said: “I think it says a lot and I think Batswana will ask whether the UDC government will perform if given the mandate to rule if a subordinate (Pilane) undermines the UDC president and it becomes business as usual.”

Certainly, Saleshando pointed out that it is that kind of culture that is foreign to BCP; even the inaction by the UDC leaders is totally foreign to them. He said nonetheless they accept that in a coalition there is a shared space and one cannot impose their preferred way of doing things but hopes they will be able to impress upon other UDC colleagues on the need to “act” on some of the things before they got more toxic.

BCP leader speaks about Ndaba and AP

The UDC Vice President said he has not worked much with Ndaba Gaolathe, but when he looks at the public perception, which is very critical in the same way as the fact that the public is suspicious of Pilane; the public, it appears to him, does trust Ndaba. “I think we better with AP’s Ndaba than with the BMD so unfortunately with the benefit of working with the current BMD, there would add the spark that we need. I do think he has talents that the opposition needs,” he said.  

He also pointed out that, so, whether by walking away from the UDC was necessary or not shouldn’t be an issue really, as it amounts to crying over spilled milk. So the question should be can those talents be part of the reformulation that we need for 2019, and we need that reformulation, and so I think yes we do, he emphasised.

In the same token, Saleshando pointed out that the AP also needs to reflect, and do self introspection, as it’s not enough for them to say they were right on Pilane. “That alone cannot get them the votes. The reality of it is that the electoral system that we using will dissipate AP in 2019 should it stand alone, it may not survive beyond 2019. Politics is not a sprint but a marathon and how you run it is critical. Batswana are not looking for prophets on who was right on Pilane but they are looking for combined opposition that can offer alternative to the BDP. We also knew about Pilane’s track record.”

BDP is at its weakest, UDC should capitalise

On the BDP, Saleshando said the party is at its weakest point. “We can say it (BDP) presents what we can call mana from heaven for the opposition. It’s not the first time in the BDP that there are many casualties in primary elections as the members of cabinet just suffered. The message by Batswana is that they have lost confidence in the BDP leadership, and it’s a strong message countrywide particularly as most of them were on the first terms in parliament when they lost,” Saleshando asserted.  

He also said that, more worse is that the BDP is going into the coming elections with a grumpy former president Lt. Gen. Ian Khama, a former president who want to be treated as a sitting president, and wants to co-pilot with the sitting president in the cockpit. “He wants full access to OK 1 (official aircraft) and military planes. But like I said before, this is a case of chickens coming home to roost for the BDP as they created Khama. They are reaping what they have sown all these years and my response is that so ‘let them lie on the bed they prepared.’”


On Masisi, he also attacked him saying he is simply a beneficiary of an undemocratic system whereby one person elects his preferred president on our behalf adding that “I am not even sure if Masisi would have been anywhere in the race if it was purely a democratic race.” According to Saleshando, even though it cannot be justified he said he can understand why Khama is an unhappy man at the moment because of Masisi.

“Khama is possibly thinking that Masisi was totally unknown and irrelevant when he fought for his victory in 2014 and that he catapulted him, while he was a political novice and politically malnourished, and went on to make him Vice President and Chairman. Then now he uses the energy he secured for BDP victories to reverse everything he did. I am not saying is justification but it maybe what going though Khama’s mind now,” he said. He also said Masisi should take stern action on Khama and not play naïve or ‘hear or see no evil’ when the clearly the former president is bringing down his lieutenants.

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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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