The appointment of Mokgweetsi Masisi as Vice President of Botswana and his endorsement by Parliament on Wednesday has received mixed reactions from across the political divide, business and civil society.
Usually the endorsement of a Vice President in Botswana should seal the debate on who will succeed a sitting President. Some still doubt if Masisi will succeeded President Ian Khama when he leaves office at the beginning 2018. But the President has reiterated that Masisi is the one.
Khama kept his choice of Vice President, a closely guarded secret, and majority of newly elected MPs were kept in the dark on who they will endorse as Vice President until the eleventh hour.
Even on the eve of the VP endorsement the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) caucus only deliberated on the selection of Speaker of the National Assembly, Deputy Speaker and Chief Whip.
To those who understand the leadership trends in the BDP, by choosing Masisi as VP has many dynamics to it. For the better part of the 10th parliament Masisi worked closely with President Khama at the Office of the President. In 2009, following the general elections Khama appointed Masisi Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration but the resignation of Lesego Motsumi in 2011 to take up an ambassadorial post in India saw Masisi being elevated to the post of full minister in the Office of the President.
Masisi is viewed as the most loyal to Khama in the Cabinet and was tasked by the President Khama to head his poverty eradication projects, a task the Moshopa-Manyana legislator did to the satisfaction of the President. When the Ministry of Education and Skills Development was marred by troubles, Khama temporary sent Masisi as a stopgap while Venson-Moitoi was relieved of her duties- given the fact that she never went back to the Ministry again after being appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation last week.
Masisi was so confident of his prospects for Vice Presidency that in 2012 when Mompati Merafhe announced that he will be leaving at the end of July, Masisi told reporters that he was confident that he will be appointed as Merafhe’s replacement. However, Khama settled for the more experienced Ponatshego Kedikilwe as the replacement instead. Kedikilwe retired from politics following the dissolution of the 10th parliament.
Masisi has generally been accepted in the BDP as Vice President. His appointment has satisfied most party members in the south who felt that there was need to appoint one of their own to balance power in the ruling party.
WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT MASISI APPOINTMENT BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari: “In my honest opinion I do not think Mr Masisi makes a cut to be a Vice President of this country. My reasons are that he has been the Minister of Presidential Affairs and quite antagonistic to the public service. It was during his stewardship that we have seen gross deterioration of employer-employee relations. I am not happy that he was appointed in that respect.
I understand that he would still be the Minister of Education and Skills Development at the same time and that does not make me happy either. That will be very unfortunate because the V.P has huge responsibility as the coordinator of all government projects, if that has not changed. That is another mammoth task. There is nobody in this country who does not know the huge responsibility that comes with leading the Ministry of Education hence the Ministry has two assistant ministers. He will find it difficult to juggle between the two jobs. President Khama has to relieve him fast. Moonlighting at the Ministry of Education would lead to a crisis, because that is what he would do, moonlight. As it is morale of the teachers are already low.”
Former Molepolole South legislator Daniel Kwelagobe: “The President chooses a character he feels comfortable working with, so I cannot judge his choice of Vice President. Whether Masisi is a good leader or not, it is not for me to determine. I believe the President made the best choice and he is and would be more comfortable working with Masisi.”
Former BDP Youth Wing leader Bontsi Monare: “The newly elected Vice President of the Republic of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi is a young and pragmatic leader. He was the best choice in our current time because he brings the best of both worlds – speaking generationally. His thinking is very well set apart and that he is not a typical thinker and that’s important looking at our preparation towards the next development planning. We need a fresh approach to economic development in general and employment creation in particular, so really if you are out of the box thinker with a strong leadership and administrative acumen Masisi is a perfect choice.”
MASISI’S JOURNEY Botswana’s 8th Vice President Masisi is MP for Moshupa/Manyana constituency and Minister of Education and Skills Development, Mokgweetsi Masisi.
He initially trained as a teacher majoring in English and History. In 1984 he taught at Mmanaana Secondary School in Moshupa, while also leading community development initiatives there.
In 1987, Masisi transferred to Curriculum Development and Evaluation and worked as Social Studies Curriculum Specialist, where he supervised a group of subjects (Social Studies, Music, Religious and Moral Education) In 1989 he studied at graduate level at Florida State University, USA, specialising in Social Studies Education and Instructional Systems Design.
In 1990 re-joined Curriculum Development and oversaw Social Studies and other subjects and played major role in development of new assessment system of Criterion Referenced Testing (CRT). There he became the National Coordinator for Social Studies Education and Botswana’s representative as the African Social and Environmental Studies Programme (ASESP) and Board member for Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa (EEASA) for more than 5 years. He was also a member of several NGO Boards.
Vice President Masisi joined UNICEF in 1995 as Education Project Officer. In 2003 from resigned to join politics, standing unsuccessfully for BDP primaries in Moshupa Constituency. Joined International Research NGO and focussed on HIV Prevention researchâ€¨and began studying for PhD in epidemiology.
In 2008 Vice President Masisi won the BDP Primary Elections and thus became the party’s Parliamentary candidate for Moshupa, which he subsequently secured in the October 2009 general election. Also in October 2009, Masisi was appointed as the Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. He was subsequently promoted to be the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public administration in January 2011.
In April 2014 Vice President Masisi was transferred to the Ministry of Education and Skills Development on an acting basis until the general elections on the 24th October 2014, when he was re-elected Member of Parliament for Moshupa-Manyana.
Despite the government of Botswana’s ambition to have one of its own to lead Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) since its establishment in 1980, the Presidency says there is no budget specifically dedicated to the campaign.
The Government has released the name of Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Mpedi Magosi, as the candidate for the SADC Executive Secretary position. Magosi is expected to face off with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) candidate, Faustin Mukela. The position will become vacant in August this year.
However, despite the optimism the Botswana Government has not yet set aside a budget to assist Magosi to win against the seemingly DRC giant. “We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the country’s ability to effectively fund any new project. This campaign is not an exception. As such, we do not have any budget for the campaign. However, we have so far managed to take advantage of His Excellency the President’s working visits to the neighbouring countries to also carry out the campaigns,” Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang, explained.
Botswana has housed SADC since the establishment of the then SADCC in 1980, but has never occupied top most leadership positions at the SADC Secretariat. “We therefore, strongly believe that we should also have an opportunity to contribute to the management of our regional body as it continues to drive the important issues of regional integration industrialization and socio-economic development.
This will also profile Botswana as a strong advocate of regional integration,” he responded to this publication’s questionnaire as to why the Government wants to occupy the plum post. SADC is a Member State driven organization. As such, Leagajang said, needs a well-grounded Executive Secretary with a blend of management and leadership acumen; a transformational leader with political awareness and integrity; private and public sector experience; a deep culture of corporate governance; as well as strategic agility and result-oriented consummate diplomat.
“These are the unique attributes of our candidate,” he said. So far President Mokgweetsi Masisi has visited nine out of 16 SADC member states on a working visit and also taking an opportunity to present to them his candidate.
“The countries have appreciated this effort and we remain hopeful. However, it is important to note that this is a democratic and competitive process which must be respected,” he responded when asked about the reception and assurances from various countries to cast a vote for Magosi.
In 2018, when Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi challenged for the Africa Union (AU) Chairperson, the government appointed former President Festus Mogae to be the campaign leader. Does the Government have anyone apart from Masisi to help with the campaign?
“The campaigns for the candidate are strictly led by the Government of Botswana. Since this is a candidate for Botswana, not just the Government, it will be appreciated if all Batswana, including the media, could also shoulder the responsibility to campaign for the candidate in their own spheres of influence,” Leagajang responded.
While there are sceptics on Magosi winning against the DRC man, the Government is confident and believes that with the unique traits that he possess, Magosi stands a chance. He is said to be a strong advocate of justice and fairness as he has played this role in his current role as PSP and in his previous roles as PS and in the private sector. He has helped individuals and companies to find justice and fairness in most of their dealings with Government.
Magosi is also said to be a proponent of corporate governance and which he has relentlessly pursued in most of his career including in Government and other sectors. A strong believer in following laid down procedures and laws. “He carries a variety of skills as an HR expert with experience in different sectors, a strategist and an Organization development specialist.
His experience and exposure spans government, parastatal, private sector and at regional level as well, thus making him a suitable candidate for the regional role. He has worked with governments, businesses, development partners and politicians and is comfortable navigating through all of them,” Leagajang concluded.
The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila looked a politician set to shoot the moon as he laid bare his billions of pula development agenda recently in Parliament.
His Ministry’s combined Recurrent and Development Budget Proposals for the 2021/ 2022 Financial Year is pegged at Four Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty – Five Million, two Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P4, 365, 219, 560). This is a budget 38.3% more than the allocation for the 2020/2021 Financial Year.
Mzwinila preluded his request to parliament with a demonstration that his Ministry has no champagne taste on a beer budget – indicating that his ministry’s expenditure at the end of February 2021P2.111 Billion or 96% of development budget; and P910 million or 90% of the recurrent budget.
Notwithstanding the budget dust, the Minister justified this year’s increase in the Ministry’s total budget. He attributed the escalation to the commencement of major projects under the water sector. These include the implementation of the North South Carrier (NSC) 22.2 covering various sub projects. Mzwinila noted that these are all public value projects which are aimed at improving the lives of Batswana.
Mzwinila’s Ministry has projected that the sum of Nine Hundred and Sixty –Three Million, Nine Hundred and Forty – Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P963, 947, 560) be permitted for the Recurrent Budget and stand part of the 2021 / 2022 Appropriation Bill ( No. 1 of 2021).
“55% of the Recurrent Budget is geared towards the Revenue Support Grant for 12 Land Boards and their subordinate authorities while the sum of P5 Million is allocated to the Real Estate Advisory Council (REAC). The remaining 44% is proposed for the Ministry Departments.”
The sum of Three Billion, Four Hundred and One Million, Two hundred and Seventy –Two Thousand Pula (P3, 401, 272, 000), for the Development Budget was approved and stand part of the same schedule of the appropriation (2021/2022).
When breaking down the Development Budget, Minister Mzwinila noted that Water Supply and Sanitation projects will account for P1.098 Billion to finance the Maun Water and Sanitation project, Molepolole Sanitation projects and the Shakawe Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation.
With all the implementation bottlenecks troubling several projects in the country, Mzwinila had to satisfy the question of whether his Ministry demonstrated a dire need for the budget with reference to its execution of the budget for the financial year 2020/2021 and its delivery of strategic initiatives and projects?
Mzwinila’s pitch found favour with parliament and his ministry will get an aggregate budget of P3.198 Billion for the 2020/ 2021 Financial Year. Within this allocation, P2.188 Billion is for the Development Budget and P1.010 Billion will cover the Recurrent Budget.
The Minister revealed his strategic interventions for land management, water and sanitation services. Highlighting that efforts by Government to provide serviced residential land to citizens on the waiting list are being hampered by limited resources. He shared that his ministry needs P94 Billion to cover such costs which will directly link to water, sewage, roads, electricity, telecommunications and storm water drainage leading to the allocation of 4 587 plots on un-serviced land.
The minister projected that 22 952 un-serviced residential plots are planned to be allocated in the next financial year. However, there is a trend where allocated land remains fallow and undeveloped which raises misgivings that the requests could have been made on speculative plans.
Mzwinila noted that in the spirit of forging stronger International connections, the Ministry will in June 2021 sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Land matters between Namibia and Botswana with the aim of opening doors to the creation of Dry Ports in the country, facilitate international trade through Walvis Bay Sea Port.
Botswana is already challenged by scarcity of naturally occurring water resources due to the aridity of the country creating persistent water shortages. The type of infrastructure required to improve national water security is a true reflection of intensive investment needed in the water sector The Minister stressed.
“An emerging issue such as the COVID -19 pandemic poses serious challenges as the control of the virus requires reliable water supply. In an effort to mitigate the challenge, the Ministry has undertaken extensive bowsing throughout the country which included the provision of additional capacity for supplementary bowsing to areas with pervasive water shortages, plus an additional forty one (41) un-gazetted settlements.
Operational costs due to bowsing were at an average of P6 Million per month before the COVID-19 pandemic and increased to an unsustainable amount of the order of P13 Million per month, since the beginning of the State of Emergency in April 2020,” the minister shared.
Through the support of a World Bank Loan, the Ministry is implementing several initiatives under the Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency (BEWSE) project. Through BEWSE the Raw Water Pricing and Abstraction Strategy will assess the pricing of water in a manner that enables the provision of water to support new economic development, the strategy is planned to be completed in June 2021.
The Ministry has commenced the development of a long term National Water Security Strategy to improve resilience to climate change impacts. The strategy development entails prioritization of the proposed future mega water transfers such as the Chobe – Zambezi water transfer, the Atlantic Ocean water transfer to Botswana through Namibia and Lesotho – Botswana water transfer.
Following the signing of the tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa in November 2017 for the Lesotho –Botswana Water Transfer project, a 24 months contract for a combined prefeasibility and feasibility study for the development of a bankable Lesotho – Botswana Water Transfer project feasibility study was signed and is to be completed in 2022.
One of the Ministry’s famous major water supply projects such as the North South Carrier (NSC) 2.2 has experienced hiccups; having tenders for contract 1 (Masama to Mmamashia Pipeline) and Contract 2 (Mahalapye to Masama Pipeline) cancelled due to budgetary constraints.
The Botswana Climate Change policy draft of 2021 was tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Philda Kereng for consideration and adoption.
The policy attempts to indicate the country’s environmentally conscious development agenda as Substantial resources are being dedicated to research and policy efforts to mitigate climate change and support adaptation to the current and future impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.
Kereng indicated that Botswana is not immune to the impacts of climate change and it continues to delay the country’s national development efforts and that the key economic development sectors dependent on the climate system have recorded declines over the years due to the variability of the rainfall and other climatic conditions. Experts elsewhere have pointed out that lack of consideration of population dynamics hampers the development of stronger, more effective solutions to the challenges climate change poses – hopefully this policy if effectively implemented could partly answer this question.
Kereng underscored that sectors such as agriculture, water, bio diversity, health and tourism have suffered the most and the consequences of these have contributed significantly to the decline of livelihoods in Botswana especially in rural areas.
To respond to the changing climate, Botswana has embarked on sectoral reform such as climate smart agriculture, poverty alleviation initiatives, building resilience on the economic productive sectors, diversification of tourism for the improvement of livelihoods and income generation, local economic development and sustainable environment.
The efforts require a coordinated mechanism that will provide an enabling environment for an integrated approach to the formulation and implantation of development plans and socio economic related policies in Botswana that are responsive to the changing climatic conditions.
Minister Kereng explained the draft policy is characterized by an inclusive and integrated approach to social, economic development and governance modalities that would enable the country to achieve a sustainable development pathway. It provides opportunities for improved livelihoods through creation of green jobs, development and transfer of relevant technologies as well as creation and ease of access to both local and international markets. It also commits the government, private sector and non-state actors to adopt adaptation and mitigation measures that would facilitate sustainability and building of resilience of all sectors.
While Members of Parliament were trying to comprehend the policy, this publication got in touch with Green Botswana to solicit their views on the policy draft. Ms. Sela Motshwane, the Founder of the Trust highlighted that “the Climate Change policy was meant to be read in August 2019. It is long overdue, and we all need to see it and understand it in full.
I understand the current budget does not allow for a full implementation- but I could be wrong. More funds could have been allocated since. I think generally, Batswana need to understand fully what this means to our daily lives. I believe the true understanding is by policy drafters and the Ministry of Environment only.”
In the same vein, Green Botswana Trust took to the streets to provide a community solution to climate change on World Health Day (Wednesday). Green Botswana held a “Free Trees for Babies” at Extension 2 Clinic where fruit trees were gifted to parents, expectant mothers, 25 health workers, police officers and the prison officers who had accompanied prisoners to the clinic.
Motshwane said: “The decision to do the “Free Trees for Babies” by gifting fruit trees was to raise awareness to our imminent food security issue as stated by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr. Thabang Botshoma and encourage the general public to plant a tree so that we can reach our SGD Goal 13 : Climate Action. The trees gifted are to be named after the baby recipient”.
Green Botswana is calling for the urgent action from government and members of the public to create a culture of community accountability and collegiality in moving Botswana towards climate action and sustainability. To achieve the 2030 Paris Agreement Pledge, it will take all citizens and not just the government to reach goals.
Parliament resolved to adopt the Botswana Climate Change Policy, 2021.