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Students give Minister Ngaka first litmus test

Botswana National Union of Students (BONU) and tertiary Student Representative Councils’ (SRCs) efforts to lead a peaceful protest to deliver a petition to newly appointed Tertiary Education Minister, Ngaka Ngaka, demanding allowance increment, were thwarted by police this week Wednesday.

Thousands of students had turned up for the march that began at the GSS grounds, but they would never reach Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology Ministry Headquarters as Botswana Police Services refused to give them leeway. Students allowances are currently P1420 and the union and the SRCs want it increased to P2 000.

BONUS has told this publication that the union had written a letter to minister Ngaka to which a response, acknowledging receipt of the same was sent to the union. The response however did not give clear response regarding the subject matter. “We have written to the Minister asking him to consider increasing the students’ living allowances and indeed the ministry got back to us, acknowledging receipt but with no further details whether our proposal is accepted or not. We expected the minister to respond in an engaging manner but that is not the case,” Secretary of BONUS Tebogo Mmolotsane said.

According to the union, there is need to increase students allowances as students are not able to meet their needs on the current measly P1420, particularly following the hike in public transport fare. In an interview, University of Botswana SRC president Mpho Molokwane said it is very important for SRCs and students from various tertiary institutions to raise awareness and send a message to the new minister who will face stern tests just like other previous ministers on issues pertaining to students’ welfare and living.

Molokwane is of the view that issues affecting students should be tackled accordingly by all stakeholders and therefore the minister needs to take demands presented to his office by student leaders a bit more serious. He further revealed that the plan will be taken further despite efforts by the minister not to consider it a matter of urgency. He added: “This is just the beginning and this will go on until the minister brings something on board, we have worked with the former minister [Madigele] and he resolved every matter we engaged him on in a resolute manner so Ngaka should do as well.”

Quizzed on whether it was not too early to make overwhelming demands on the minister who has just assumed office, one SRC leader said “It is not an issue of being new in office as this matter has been raised long before to other former ministers and what Ngaka should do is to continue with the issue by engaging SRCs as stakeholders. He has taken oath to work and we are not expecting any excuses which have no direction”.

This publication has gathered that minister Ngaka had in fact specified that on the day stipulated for delivery of the petition, his office was not prepared to receive it, as he is still new in office. He also said the matter was still in the hands of the Permanent Secretary and he would only deal with it after it is passed to his office from the PS. For their part, the police indicated that they were only involved to keep order and ensure that things were conducted peacefully and not to necessarily frustrate the students’ efforts to reach the minister’s office.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

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.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

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.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

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.

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