Members of Parliament have heaped praises on a motion that proposes establishment of an autonomous National Road Development Agency, an institution that would oversee and ensure that Botswana’s road network are world class were enabling rather than frustrating economic growth efforts.
The Agency, according to majority of lawmakers will not only ensure proper and monitored construction, development and maintenance of Botswana’s most used mode of transport but will also play a critical role in developing road anchored economic sectors like Transport & logistics. When presenting the motion before lawmakers recently Member of Parliament for Nata Gweta, Polson Majaga said the agency would be predominantly mandated with ensuring that Botswana’s road network is up to date and a necessary enabler in flourishing Botswana’s economy.
Majaga noted that the Agency would be resourced with seasoned academia and experienced experts from across all areas that make up top notch road network. “This would be amongst others civil and construction engineers, transport and logistics experts, facility managers, procurement & contract management experts as well as private sector representatives,” he said. Majaga explained that the organization’s mandate would also extend to addressing challenges that are facing the entire transport sector.
The Nata-Gweta lawmaker submitted that it was evident that currently Botswana’s roads were in poor condition and that hindered economic growth and deterred flourishing of a number of economic sectors such as trade and tourism. “We intend as a country to move towards an export led economy and we are rigorously developing other economic sectors to move away from mining dependence such as inter boarder trade, tourism amongst others and in all these efforts, high standard road network was an integral requirement,” he said.
Majaga underscored that this would in turn result in the economy becoming more efficient and competitive. He added that a good and well maintained road network would enable movement of Batswana country wide and facilitate access to services and economic opportunities. The National Road Development Agency comes at a time when Botswana is faced with challenges of poor implementation of heavy national projects which usually bleeds government coffers millions.
Majaga reiterated that construction and maintenance of roads in Botswana had in recent years come under immense pressure as a result of resource limitations. “This is where now we would have monitoring and evaluation mechanism over road construction projects in turn preventing budget overruns and delayed completion. Member of Parliament for Serowe East, Tshekedi Khama recommended that in going about setting up the agency there must be sufficient funds and resources allocated towards the organization to ensure effective delivery on the mandated task.
Tshekedi noted that often times good ideas with well thought concepts suffer poor implementation. “The Agency must be fully resourced, we want safe roads, well fenced, in good conditions, facilitating economic value chains other than claiming lives of our loved ones,” he said, adding that the proposed Road Development Agency was a well thought and commendable piece of legislation.
Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington South, Ndaba Gaolathe applauded the proposition saying it was a necessity for any developing economy. Gaolathe added that in setting up the agency, its mandates could be widened to include all forms of mode of transport including railway lines and cycling tracks.
According to Gaolathe, the agency would also move to draw up long term road development plans that reconcile with evolving economic trends, “This would now call for detailed strategic frameworks that design and plan Botswana’s road networks well ahead, taking into consideration the country’s blue prints on other economic development ideals such as Special Economic Zones, Export promotion amongst others, to actually integrate all plans,” he said.
Gaolathe highlighted that a well functioning Road Development Agency would also explore opportunities of potentially having Botswana‘s road network financing itself through toll gates, among other means. Newly inaugurated Member of Parliament, Moagi Molebatsi of Mochudi East underscored that the motion couldn’t have come at a better time considering the fact that Botswana’s poor roads were a potential hindrance to foreign direct investment efforts. Molebatsi pointed out that once in place; the road agency should ensure that the country’s roads were friendly to all road users and not only to motorists.
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.