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Inside Masisi-Tsogwane VP deal

Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane is not the man who will succeed President Mokgweetsi Masisi at the end of his presidency, with the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairman planning to retire from active politics just before the 2024 general elections.

Like his successor, Lt Gen Ian Khama — Masisi will have more than two deputies during his term. Khama had Mompati Merafhe and later Ponatshego Kedikilwe before settling for Masisi as his ordained successor. According to sources close to the developments, Masisi’s likely successor will be the one appointed after the 2024 general elections. If the status quo obtains, Masisi will serve as president until 2028.

Since 1980, a sitting president had to alternate their deputies owing to various circumstances. Sir Ketumile Masire had three vice presidents; Lenyeletse Seretse (1980-1983), Peter Mmusi (1983-1992) and Festus Mogae (1992-1998).
Mogae is the only president since Sir Seretse Khama to have had one Vice President during his tenure.

While many were surprised by the decision to appoint Tsogwane as Vice President, impeccable sources revealed that Masisi had long concluded that he will appoint Tsogwane his deputy. Tsogwane, who had throughout his political career been reluctant to take up a post in the party’s central committee, surprised many when he ran for the additional member post at last year’s Tonota Congress and emerged victorious.

Following his appointment as party chairman a few hours after Masisi took oath as president of Botswana; it grew apparent that Tsogwane was Masisi’s chosen one. “Masisi was obviously looking for someone who is loyal, and who wouldn’t want to outshine him. Given their chemistry, Slumber [Tsogwane], was that person,” revealed one member of BDP Central Committee.

WeekendPost further established that Tsogwane, unlike many in the BDP, did not have any ambition for the presidency, let alone the vice presidency, with his initial plan having been to retire at the end of his current term. It was Masisi who coaxed the pint-sized legislator, who is currently the joint longest serving lawmaker in parliament — to stay for another five years.  Previously, Bogolo Kenewendo, who has since been appointed to cabinet, was earmarked to replace Tsogwane at Boteti West at the next polls.

WeekendPost has been informed the new Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry will be re-elected as Specially Elected MP next year.  The surging of Kenewendo in government structures is credited to Tsogwane, and many have pointed out that it is one of the pointers on the tightness of Tsogwane and Masisi’s relationship.

Masisi’s choice for Tsogwane though unexpected by many democrats, has not caused any uproar chiefly because he is considered a man without controversies. “He is the ideal man for the job at the moment. Not many friends, and also without enemies,” said one influential member of the BDP.

Even the hard to please party veteran Daniel Kwelagobe has given a thumbs up to Masisi’s choice for Vice President in Tsogwane.

“He has been in government for a very long time, he knows how government works and he has been a good member of the party,” said Kwelagobe of Tsogwane.

PLAYING IT SAFE IN CABINET APPOINTMENTS

Masisi did not cause uproar in his newly constituted cabinet, the only surprising choice being his decision to drop Edwin Batshu. Batshu, was considered one of the hard working ministers. He also enjoyed goodwill among the democrats.
Batshu joined Sadique Kebonang and Prince Maele — the controversy ensnared MPs who were relegated to the backbench. The public were yearning the dismissal of the duo from cabinet, something which gave Masisi an excuse to leave them out.

Kebonang has been implicated in the latest National Petroleum Fund scandal in which at least P250 million is suspected to have been misappropriated from the fund by the country’s intelligence organ. Meanwhile Maele has twice been placed under the radar of the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) with regards to large sums of money found in his possession.

Masisi kept Nonofo Molefhi in cabinet, and intriguingly appointed him to a more important ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration. Following their battle for chairmanship in Tonota last, a race which was considered a proxy battle for the presidential succession, it was believed that Masisi would drop Molefhi from cabinet.

Other members who were linked to Molefhi’s lobby group, Dorcas Makgato, Philip Makgalemele and Biggie Butale also retained their ministerial posts. Masisi, in another unexpected turn of events also left out Moyo Guma from his new cabinet. While some believe that Guma opted not to be offered the ministerial post, inside sources reveal otherwise.

“They were asked to indicate if they didn’t want to be considered. No one indicated such. After appointees were sworn in, the boss [Masisi] shared with them that everyone to whom he offered had accepted,” revealed a source. “No decliners. It means those not in the line-up were never offered.”

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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