Former President Lt. Gen. Ian Khama’s younger brother, Tshekedi Khama has stated that he should not be denied being President or Vice President of the Republic, because of his family lineage.
Tshekedi, who is also the son to Botswana’s founding President Sir Seretse Khama, emphasised that his Khama lineage should not be used against him in deciding his next destiny with regard to the leadership of both the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the country. Speaking to Weekend Post this week, Tshekedi stressed: “I think I should not be denied any opportunity because of my Khama lineage. The bottom line is I am a Motswana too, like everybody else and therefore, I too should be given an equal chance.”
Tshekedi, who is also the second in line in the Bangwato chieftaincy throne, after Ian Khama, continued: “I always wonder that, are people so determined that just because I am a Khama, the name Khama, therefore I will or should suffer.” In addition he stressed that he wants to tell the current BDP leadership that they should, “leave my lineage out of it.” “I am Tshekedi. When I ask for assistance from the party, I should be assisted accordingly like anybody else.”
According to the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism; “no one should think their position should make them big-headed in anyway.” He said of Balopi, the BDP Secretary General: “you were elected to be there and serve the party in that capacity. So you have to behave when you are there.” Tshekedi added that he believes Balopi does not want to assist him properly because he is a Khama.
Tshekedi has since informed party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane about Balopi’s behaviour, who in-turn instructed Balopi to make amends. “I will meet with both Masisi and Balopi again to indicate to them that I am very concerned about state of affairs in the party. I do not agree with what is happening in the BDP at the moment.”
Tshekedi also remembered during the interview that at some point there was speculation that Moyo Guma, Nonofo Molefhi, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and himself wanted the Vice Presidency. “I have nothing signed in paper that I will be VP to Masisi. But it does not trouble me at all.”
TSHEKEDI BELIEVES BOGOSI STILL HAS INFLUENCE IN POLITICS
Tshekedi is of the view that bogosi still has a massive influence and impact in Botswana’s politics. He justified: “Batswana like their Dikgosi as we have seen Batawana Kgosi Tawana Moremi easily winning elections in Maun West; the same with Lotlaamoreng Montshioa of the Barolong in Goodhope/Mabule constituency.”
According to TK, “Batswana like their Dikgosi and it is a good thing because Bogosi came before parliamentary democracy where there is a president, ministers and so forth. So through our Dikgosi we should not forget that that is where our democracy started, through kgotla system, and we should respect that.”
HOW DOES TSHEKEDI VIEW THE MASISI PRESIDENCY?
“I do not have a problem with President Masisi [Mokgweetsi]. He brought me back to cabinet. And I am glad for that,” Tshekedi told this publication. He observed that Masisi never displayed anything towards him although others in cabinet do. “They read sinister moves since am the former president’s brother. Sometimes you get the feeling that you are not with your colleagues (ba koo o koo). The way I see it, I think they believe that my allegiance is not with Masisi but still with Khama.”
He continued to point out; “but I give him (Masisi) same respect, I did the same to Khama when he was president. People just want to sow seeds of discord between President Masisi and myself. But I refuse to entertain that.” He explained that he does not discriminate Masisi because he is from the South and so detests this North/South narrative for the BDP leadership.
“You know if I can tell you now, I wanted to stand for BDP Chairmanship in 2015 at Mmadinare when Masisi was VP. I went to Khama to tell him of my intention, and Masisi also had indicated that he wants to stand. So, for Khama it was a challenge on his side and was caught up between a brother and VP,” he highlighted.
He said, “to put things into perspective; Tebelelo Seretse, Moemedi Dijeng and myself are from Serowe and we all wanted to stand for BDP chairmanship. Then it is at that time that I decided not to stand because it would seem like North/South battle.” Tshekedi explained that for starters he is related to Seretse. “And so I told Masisi of my intention not to stand. So, if it was an issue of North/South divide as suspected, I was the first to recognise that and took a decision to distill that myth.”
The minister also confirmed to Weekend Post that, “Yes, it is true that I was accused by some northerners especially some Bangwato that I have given the chairmanship to a Southerner. They could not believe it. I was shocked upon hearing this. I felt let down that some people are unable to let other people prosper just because they are from somewhere.”
For me, Tshekedi observed: “I had a father, Sir Seretse and a brother Ian as Presidents, and I have realised that when people become presidents some people change towards them. When you leave presidency you also see your real friends. In addition, former presidents must also be awarded respect.”
He however said Masisi and Khama are different in terms of leadership, in that Khama has a military background and therefore his character was in line with that. He said it appears that Masisi’s main focus is also on education as he is a teacher by profession, and he sees a research persona in him; and that he wants to diversify the economy more and turn the country into a knowledge-based economy.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO BELIEVE TK LEAKS CABINET SECRETS TO KHAMA?
Tshekedi emphasized to this publication that he will continue to starve Khama cabinet decisions. “So, those who think that, because ex-President Khama is my brother, therefore I will tell him cabinet secrets are misled.” Tshekedi pointed out that, “It is not allowed to tell anyone, including my brother Khama. We conform to secrecy in cabinet. I even took an oath for it. Even Khama knows. He knows he cannot ask me anything concerning cabinet.”
TSHEKEDI REMINISCES HOW HIS PARENTS, SERETSE AND RUTH SUFFERED
Tshekedi took time to reminisce the old days when his parents were banished from Botswana in 1950, after his father married a white woman, Ruth Williams. “I know that sometimes as a Khama, I get attacked for no good reason. But when am attacked, it is nowhere near what my parents suffered. It is nothing. My parents went through a lot,” Tshekedi fumed.
WHY TSHEKEDI IS ABSENT IN HIS CONSTITUENCY
The Bangwato royal believes he is more absent in the constituency as he is busy with his ministerial portfolio. “You know, I have no assistant Minister at my Ministry. And mind you we remain the second biggest earner outside the country (tourism), so I really work hard at the ministry,” he said.
TK: “so, sometimes I don’t frequently go to the constituency like I should, and when I go there I talk to Bangwato and they really understand about the matter. In fact even if I go there they never complain. Those who say are the branch committee which I am not in good terms with.”
TSHEKEDI STILL FEELS UNANSWERED BY THE BDP AND COURT
Following his defeat at the hands of BDP at court, which ruled against him and allowed Dijeng to contest, Tshekedi says he is still unanswered by both the party and court. He still feels confused even thought he went on to win Serowe West BDP primary elections dubbed Bulela Ditswe with 2,797 votes against Dijeng’s 1,594 and 462 allotted to Keletso Rakhudu.
He told Weekend Post: “let me tell you I am still confused or concerned. My question is still not answered. My issue is the BDP does not allow campaigns to commence before primary elections are called. Campaigns happen after elections are officially called. So I am still yet to see clarity from the party whilst the party disciplinary committee has found Dijeng guilty. If you are guilty you are not allowed to stand for elections. So how can they find you guilty and not take a decision?”
The Serowe West legislator said what Dijeng did, by campaigning before the race was declared open, it means it was a disadvantage on other competitors, Rakhudu and him. “So it is not fair for us now. We should all be equal.” In 2014, he narrated that he wrote to the party but he was still not given an answer.
“What is the value of the constitution then? So I am still disappointed because I do not know why this. I am more sensitive to it because it happened before. We have set a bad precedence. I, or anybody, can do that next time. Anybody can do as they please really. It is not about the individual, Tshekedi or anyone; it’s about the laws of the BDP.”
On why he took the party to court, and thus facing potential suspension, he said he believes it is everybody’s constitutional right to challenge things which they do not understand. “I wrote a letter to the BDP to ask for a meeting before I went to court and so I believe I covered myself there. I should not be seen as an enemy of the party.
When someone is aggrieved, they should be addressed properly. If they do not answer us satisfactorily they are the ones tarnishing the BDP’s image.” He warned Balopi that, “guys be careful as you don’t own anything including this party. Be nice to people when you are up as you will meet them when you go down.”
Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.
“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).
Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.
A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.
The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”
A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.
The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.
This has since been denied by the Ministry. In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.” Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”
The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term. “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja. He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”
Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation. Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.
It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.
Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.
A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.
The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.” According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.
“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.
Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions. It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.
“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.
Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.
Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.” It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.
According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.” Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.
It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from. “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.
Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems. It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation. Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.
It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.
“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions. Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.
“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions. Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”