The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and Member of Parliament for Boteti West Slumber Tsogwane has turned on his decision to retire at the end his current term in 2019.
This publication has been informed that the longest-serving elected legislator, styled Father of the House in parliament changed his mind after being coaxed by incoming President Mokgweetsi Masisi, and Samson Moyo Guma, a key member of Masisi’s team. “He has now abandoned plans to retire; he is contesting again in 2019. It was Guma [Moyo] who persuaded him to contest in 2019 for reasons that they themselves know,” an insider revealed.
Guma remains a king maker in the greater scheme of things — serving as one of Masisi’s trusted men. Since 2015, Guma has been at the forefront of the election machinery that has ensured that Masisi wins and retains the party chairmanship in 2015 and 2017 respectively. “He is a strategist. Very effective and leads from the front. When he believes in a cause he goes all the way,” hinted one of Guma’s allies.
Tsogwane was scheduled to be succeeded by the youthful Bogolo Kenewendo at Boteti West. Kenewendo was serving as Trade Advisor to the Government of Ghana when she was called to take up the legislative post. This was subsequent to the amendment of the constitution by parliament increasing the number of specially elected MPs from four to six. Kenewendo was sworn in along with former Jwaneng-Mabutsane legislator, Mephato Reatile
Although Tsogwane’s impending retirement was known, Tsogwane had for sometime declined to shed light on his anticipated departure as he noted that only time will reveal what will happen between then and the 2019 general elections. “We are not there yet,” Tsogwane told WeekendPost last year, “Nobody has declared their ambitions because we are still dealing with the primary elections for opposition held constituencies. You’ll know when such time arrives.”
Tsogwane is a key member of Masisi’s allies, and has been tipped as a potential Vice Presidential candidate for the country’s number two post, which will become vacant when Masisi ascends to the presidency at the beginning of next month. Tsogwane made it to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee last year contesting under Masisi’s lobby list. Tsogwane has also been mentioned as a potential replacement for Masisi as party chairman as Masisi takes the party leadership role concurrently with that of the presidency.
When asked in 2017 if BDP was grooming Kenewendo to take over Boteti West, Tsogwane laughed off the question. “Maybe you can ask her, she is in a better position to tell if she interested in contesting,” he said. It is was also reported that the decision to persuade him was informed by the fear that Boteti West was no longer a safe BDP stronghold, and fielding Kenewendo before endearing himself to constituents could back fire considering the dynamics of the constituency.
While the constituency has never been won by the opposition, the Botswana National Front (BNF), now under the auspices of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has made inroads in the constituency over the past decade. In the 2014 general elections, Tsogwane defeated Sam Digwa of UDC by a margin of less than 300 votes, thanks to the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) vote splitting. Tsogwane got 5790, Sam Digwa 5549 while Tjiliga Letsholo of BCP came a distant third with 622 votes.
The constituency, though a BDP stronghold, has failed to attract heavy weights in party primaries. Tsogwane became the MP for the constituency after defeating Gabofele Masusu in party primaries, then known as the committee of 18 in 1999. Currently alongside Venson-Moitoi, Tsogwane is the longest serving Member of Parliament, hence the Father of the House title, which is given to the oldest serving male legislator. For a very long time, the title was the preserve of Daniel Kwelagobe, who served for 45 years as Member of Parliament.
Kenewendo who was lined up to replace Tsogwane will reportedly get another nod as Specially Elected legislator after the 2019 general elections. Ever since being elected as MP, Kenewendo has been accompanying Tsogwane in Kgotla meetings in Boteti West. It is believed the move was meant to endear the youthful legislator to the constituents. Kenewendo’s contribution in parliament has also raised suspicion, with most of her questions, if not relating to fiscal policy related to the constituency.
Last year, Kenewendo asked the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama on interventions he had put in place to enable Boteti West communities to benefit from the two parks surrounding them being; CKGR and the Makgadikgadi National Park. Other questions, including regarding the dire water situation in Boteti West have also been posed by the youthful MP.
2014 General Elections Results BDP 5790 UDC 5549 BCP 622
2009 General Elections Results BDP 4790 BNF 3748 BCP 459
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.