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My bond with Masisi is no more – Khama

Former President Lt. General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama says the only relationship he previously had with the current President, Mokgweetsi Masisi was that of a president and his vice, “and that relationship is no more”.

Khama’s remarks come at the height of talks that his successor, Masisi has failed him, since many believe he was appointed to the power seat through an arrangement that Khama would continue to run the show from behind the scenes. Many are of the belief that there was a secret agreement that once appointed, President Masisi, who once confessed publicly that he was Lt. Khama’s bootlicker would continue to appease Khama by fulfilling his wishes.

Lately, Masisi has been seen to be reversing a lot of Khama’s initiatives. His current changes are seen as a total reverse of the ‘Khama administration.’ While many have praised Masisi’s changing of some of the initiatives for the benefit of the nation, they posit that Khama has been caught off guard.

“I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t want the current president to change this and that. Of course there are things I wouldn’t want him to change, but I will not go public about it,” Former President Lt. Khama told WeekendPost in an exclusive interview on Thursday. Among the changes is the axing of former DIS Director General Isaac Kgosi who is an ally of Khama’s. The Masisi administration is also reviewing the alcohol levy, with a view of scraping it altogether or lowering the levy.

When asked if he had expected Kgosi’s removal from the security agency, Lt. Khama’s response was that, “Whether one expects it or not is not really an issue. What I expect is that he will make changes the way he wants to make changes. So when he makes changes, we must all expect that changes will be made.” When pressed further to comment specifically on Kgosi’s case, he said, “Kana I’m dodging your question.”

In the interview, which was his first since leaving office, Lt. Khama kept on stressing that he would not want to comment on the current administration, saying in his view it is not appropriate to do so. He noted that in the United States there is some kind of an agreement between the incumbent president and his predecessor that they don’t criticize one another’s administration. “But I’m not here talking about criticism. I’m talking about commenting on an administration. And I think that has worked well for them until Donald Trump came.

And of course being the chaotic president that he is, he has spent all his time criticizing President Barak Obama.” I don’t undermine Masisi’s administration
Recently, there have been allegations that Khama was undermining Masisi’s administration. This notwithstanding, the former president this week refuted the allegations. There have been at least three incidents that have been pointed out as a way of undermining the current president.

This publication is alive to the fact that during the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) day in April, the former president did not stand up with everyone else as is norm during the passing of the flag at the end of the parade. However, in his own defence Khama says, “The procedure is that when the parade ends, only the president stands up with the commander, the rest of the crowd remained seated. After the flags have passed the president, everybody should sit down and the president and the commander remain standing until the rest of the parade has passed.”

He stated, “I do not recall that whatsoever. When the flags passed on every occasion I stood up. Why wouldn’t I stand for the flags? He questioned. “That’s the procedure which I introduced. So I know when to stand up and when not to stand up. And even if I had not stood up, which I say I did, it would have nothing to do with the president, it would be me not recognizing or honouring our national symbols, the flags. It would have nothing to do with him but more to do with the flags.” He is also said to have left the stadium before the current president.

On the issue of leaving before the current president, he admitted that he left before Masisi as he had explained to the commander that he had two engagements in Palapye at the time, and he “would want to sit at the back so I could sneak out before the final display”. “How can I undermine somebody when I’m not in a position to undermine him? I’m not in government or any formal party structure. I’m just a member of the party,” said the former president. 

THE KHAWA INCIDENT

Another incident that Khama is said to have shown disrespect towards Masisi was at Khawa where he arrived after the current president. “If he arrived first, I remember that the evening before they were discussing the time when the race will start. There was a discussion around the fact that the race should start at 9am. So, I arrived for the race to begin at 9am, akere I was racing. So as a racer I knew that I would be starting at 9am. I think what happened on that occasion, is that they had not told him that there was a change in the time that the race was going to start. So, he probably got there before us. “

KHAMA AND POLITICS

Lt. Khama says he is very active in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) campaign for 2019. He noted that he has already offered to the BDP that he is prepared to engage in campaigning for them. “And that would really come about dependent on the central committee if it wants to engage me in any formal campaign structure or it could be as I would expect and as I already have requested that candidates for each constituency would come and ask me to engage with them in their campaigns in those constituencies,” he said.

He said some have already been coming forward. ”As you are probably aware, BDP held some primary elections in some of the constituencies already. And the rest are going to happen later this year.  So, those who have already emerged as candidates have already asked me to assist them. So that’s what I have done.”

He also stated that recently he also took part in a pledging exercise where they were asked to raise money for the party campaign, where he pledged that he would raise by the end of the year around P1m. “But I just want to say that some have chosen to misunderstand the pledge thinking that I’m going to be giving the million pula myself.

But it’s not the case that one would have P1m to donate. I said I would raise the P1m from donors,” he emphasized, adding that before he left office, there were some donors who had indicated that they were prepared to donate towards the party’s campaign towards 2019 as they had done in 2014.

RETIREMENT ROAD MAP

Lt. Khama noted that he was a very busy man, saying he has been tasked with a number of things to do. “I have not retired. I have just stepped down as the constitution provides,” he said. He noted quite a number of things like being given the tittle of the Champion of 2036 vision where he has already started attending meetings with the council as they put together their plans.

He is also tourism Ambassador for the country; the patron of Arts and Culture where he will continue to promote the Arts and Culture and major sporting codes. Further, he is board member of an international conservation organisation called Conservation International based in Washington. He continues his involvement with charitable organisations like the housing appeal.

He has since stepping down two months ago, been invited to countries like South Africa, and Mozambique where the president had invited him as a keynote speaker during an international event: And he will be visiting Gabon soon. Asked whether he has received any formal invitation from President Masisi, Lt. Khama said, “President Masisi said he would, so it really depends on him- what the issue is, whether he wants to do that or that. The thing is he was a vice for a long time. So, things are not new to me. So I don’t really expect him to be calling on me, but if he does, we will wait for that day to happen.”

ON ALCOHOL

“That is one issue I will never relax on. Facts are out there, it’s not me inventing stories of how alcohol destroys people’s lives.  At the rate that Batswana drink, we are heading for a train smash.”

ADVICE TO BATSWANA

Khama stressed that he has always appealed to Batswana to be patriotic, which is their dedication to the nation. And not to do anything or say anything which undermines nation building. “For me that is very important. We only have one country.” The former president said he was not happy about some of the things that people say on social Media.  He said it was highly disappointing that people engage themselves in some cases in a negative way like they do. He pointed out that social media should be used in a positive manner.

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Jackdish Shah loses interest in BDP

17th May 2022
Jackdish

As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.

According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.

According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.

“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.

BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.

Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.

Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.

BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.

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Govt ignores own agreements to improve public service

17th May 2022
Govt

The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.

Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.

In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made.
“Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.

Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25

They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.

In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations.  The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.

The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.

The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.

The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public
“Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.

Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.

The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.

“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).

The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.

Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.

A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service.
Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.

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Health Expert rejects ‘death rates’ links to low population growth

17th May 2022
Health-Expert

A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.

He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.

Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.

Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates.
“The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.

This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.

That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”

Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.

“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.

The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.

According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu

For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”

The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.

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