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Botswana needs new economic direction

The president of Alliance for Progressives (AP), Ndaba Gaolathe has said that through the implementation of a robust Local Economic Development (LED) framework, the City of Francistown can be turned into a self-sustaining city with its own local government playing a central role in its economic development. Gaolathe made these remarks in Francistown recently where he was launching their council candidate for the upcoming Moselewapula Ward bye-election.

Gaolathe argued that a realistic LED strategy when properly implemented, should aim at localising sustainable development goals at district level to build self-sustaining local governments benefiting from available economic resources in various localities. Gaolathe who is regarded a guru of economics and finance, steered clear of freedom square politics unlike speakers before him who focused on attacking their opponents in other political parties.

He chose instead to focus on explaining an economic path that his party wishes for Batswana, thereby canvassing a line of thinking that their council candidate, Odireleng Ditshotlo is expected to take to council. He pointed out that his party advocates for a shift in economic development model to adopt an approach that will promote and strengthen local governments to be in control of the local economy in their various districts. Gaolathe said that LED is a useful approach for investment where partnerships can be forged with different investors across different sectors to unlock economic value from the available resources in different regions.

Gaolathe likened Francistown to Bloemfontein, the capital city of the Province of Free State in South Africa. Bloemfontein is also the judicial capital of South Africa. The AP president suggested that the City of Francistown can also be allocated important services in a similar fashion and so with other places. He pointed out that Botswana needs strategies that will support decentralisation of services from central government while at the same time strengthening service distribution at local government. He emphasised that it was time local authorities shifted focus from just provision of services and delivery to taking a central role in economic development.

He stressed that service delivery must be rendered with a developmental focus in mind as local authorities are supposed to create and facilitate enabling environments to attract investors who will set up businesses to boost the local economy. Because of this role, Gaolathe emphasised the importance of taking seriously the work of local government. He noted further that for councils to be able to facilitate robust local economies, they first formulate and implement interventions that will make them attractive places not only to do business but also as safe places to live in.

He remarked that understanding the LED approach can bring about enterprise development interventions as well as interventions that can help alleviate poverty. Gaolathe explained that this new direction will help local authorities to be able to conduct assessments to establish the state of the economy in their respective localities and develop problem-solving strategies to address the identified weaknesses within each local economy.

“We must embrace the Local Economic Development approach to diversifying our local economies, as this type of approach can help local authorities to realise the full economic potential of different regions,” said Ndaba. The AP leader emphasised the need to institutionalise LED in local authorities as a fundamental factor in the creation of sustainable economies. He said councils must be supported to develop implementable and enabling policies, adding that LED is being recognised in other governments in the region as a strategic enabler for socio-economic development. Gaolathe explained that it is the mandate of the local government to promote social and economic development in their respective areas.

He noted however that to achieve the LED objectives, there is need for transformative leadership that takes seriously the plight of the plight, a leadership with policy makers with a different mind-set to champion the shift from service delivery to being enablers of economic development. He pleaded with the people of Moselewapula Ward and the vast Francistown West constituency to rally behind Alliance for Progressives as it the only party with the calibre of leaders that can bring to the table, transformational interventions that the economy of their city needs.

He further pleaded with residents of the ward to ensure that their candidate, Ditshotlo emerges the victor on the day of the election. Moselewapula Ward vacancy was created by the death of Lechedzani Modenga of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) who won the ward in the 2014 General Election. Ditshotlo also contested the 2014 elections as a Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). 

Reuben Ketlhoilwe of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who also lost to the late Modenga in 2014 will represent UDC while BDP will be represented by Gilbert Boikhutso who won party primaries amidst accusations of voter trafficking. Gilbert was launched on the same day as the AP candidate last Saturday, with their base adjacent to each other.

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State forged Kgosi’s arrest warrant

22nd July 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).

The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.

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UDC parties discuss by-elections

22nd July 2021
UDC

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.

Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.

The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.

This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).

The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.

The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.

In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.

Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.

Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.

“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.

Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.

“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.

The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.

UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.

Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.

Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.

Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”

Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.

FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS  

With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.

BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.

BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.

It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.

Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”

It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.

At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.

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DIS infiltrates Police fingerprint system

22nd July 2021
Makgope

Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.

Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.

BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.

The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.

By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.

In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.

“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.

“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.

The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.

All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.

“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.

Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.

Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.

COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE

As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.

“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.

The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.

“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.

The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.

“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.

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