Ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is working around the clock to undertake “counselling sessions” for its party members who lost the recent primary elections dubbed Bulela Ditswe.
Preliminary indications suggest that most that were trounced are not taking kindly their defeat and are preparing to launch objections at Tsholetsa house. BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi told WeekendPost in an exclusive interview subsequent to the party press conference this week that they will provide counselling to all the losers.
“We know the losers are in pain. So we are going to take everything into consideration and even offer them counselling losers. We have a process beyond just the Central Committee, from now on if we realize that somebody needs Counselling. There is nothing as bruising as Central committee elections,” Balopi highlighted.
The ruling party SG explained notwithstanding that there was not even a single person who did not make it at the hot heated Tonota Congress who lost the Central committee positions who left the party. “But that’s the most painful of them all because it’s national,” he added to illustrate his point.
“So we strongly believe that the peace that we have been preaching is prevailing, right from the Central Committee,” Balopi emphasised to this publication. For the first time at the party, there are eight Members of Parliament (MP’s) candidates who are unopposed, and that he said, shows that there are is headway being made with regards to attaining tranquillity within the party. “So we will continue and we will not try to be ruthless or harsh regardless of the triviality or the magnitude of the complaints. We will just give it the same level of importance.”
According to Balopi, the just ended 2018 Bulela Ditswe elections were the best they have ever conducted as a party. However the BDP SG pointed out that although so far they have not received any official protest, they continue to hear some people who are rejecting the results. He added: “the Electoral Board is the one that receives the protests, and after receiving the protests they evaluate them and forward to the Central Committee if they have not been able to solve them.”
In a calculated move, Balopi then took a swipe at the losers: “you should ask those people who are making noise that if they won what would they have said. You see they are making noise because they have lost.” He highlighted that “if the proper process was followed, there is absolutely nothing that we can do. You see there are bad losers and good losers. And in between there are those who are objective”.
“If I can tell you, these elections are in no way near any previous ones in terms of problems. The way we have locked in, and being able to isolate the real problems. And it’s very important to understand this.” In unpacking the issue, Balopi said some of the objections are trivial and unreasonable. “Imagine if someone says when the elections results were announced he was not in the school hall where the elections were held to witness them. I mean really? Think about it. Is that a protest? Whose responsibility is it?”
He said however their processes allow that such contestants have representatives sitting there to observe the elections whether they are free and fair throughout. The BDP spokesperson observed that everyone has the right to sit and observe the vote counting before announcing of results takes place and they can as well ask for a recount when dissatisfied. “So how do you just not necessarily agree because you were not there? You need to be accountable for your actions as well,” he pointed out.
On whether the protests will not in a way further divide and polarize the party resulting in the BDP losing the constituencies again, Balopi said: “it will depend on how we handle the protests. As SG I can attest to you that there will be fairness. Whether there is proof that there were some irregularities, they will be attended to in a very objective manner.”
Balopi stated that “if something comes in that does not hold water then it will be demonstrated to that particular person in a manner that is cordial. We will not ridicule you just because you did not follow procedure to complain. This is so because we understand that at the end we want to make sure that the party becomes the winner not the individual. We will adjudicate on case by case and how we do that will also depend on case by case.”
According to Article 13 of the BDP Code of Conduct for candidates in Primary Elections which is on page 51 of the BDP Constitution “the unsuccessful candidates shall consistently demonstrate commitment, loyalty and support to the Party and its candidate, furthermore ensure that their supporters equally demonstrate loyalty and support to the party and its candidate.”
A BDP member in good standing, Shima Monageng who lost to Kabo Morwaeng by 1844 to 2693 votes told WeekendPost this week when contacted that he will offer an official objection at the Tsholetsa house before the seven days ultimatum elapses.
“I have sought advice for course of action following the glaring irregularities at Bulela Ditswe and, I will protest accordingly. I will appeal for an investigation to be done if indeed there were irregularities and if that’s the position of the party then a re-run be considered to avoid disenfranchising democracy,” he highlighted.
Monageng, who was reluctant to speak to this publication to avoid jeopardizing his appeal, stressed that all over the world elections must not be taken for granted because they represent the will of the people. He warned that if such happens, the people (or voters) will react in such a manner that may affect the party and in this case the BDP may be affected adversely.
According to Monageng, the branch Secretary was not impartial and they caught some party members’ red handed distributing membership cards during the election and they did not deny it. He added that some voters were turned down as they did not appear on the voters roll. “Action must be taken appropriately. I cannot bottle my disappointment as I am not fighting my party. This is not the first time as it happened in 2013.”
Meanwhile Monageng also took to social media (Facebook) stating his discontentment: “having stood for BDP primary elections four times in succession at Molepolole South is not a joke! In my posts I am straining myself and simply providing facts as briefly as I can. People should know that we as democrats and members of BDP are not under any bondage. This is democracy. We are members of this great party at our own will, and not forcefully.”
He added, in a move seen to be directed to his rival Morwaeng that “we who are within and have stayed loyal to the party for this long, our voices must be heard and given due consideration. As a liberal person and politician, I do accept positive criticism and variance of views, provided all is done with humility.”
Apart from Monageng, information reaching WeekendPost suggests that in Francistown South, Khumongwana Maoto and Lamodimo Dikomang who were both trounced by Modiri JoJo Lucas are also discontented by the results. Lucas triumphed with 906 votes against Maoto’s 496 as well as Dikomang who only got 306.
In Gantsi North, the same protests are also said to be underway after Greg Losibe was narrowly defeated by John Thiite with 1566 to 1582. When contacted for comment at press time, Losibe said he was in a meeting and could not comment. Another objection expected is from Pelonomi Bantsi who was defeated by Christian Nthuba by 629 to 865 in Gaborone Bonnington South. Bantsi however stated to this publication that he is restrained to offer any comment as he was still consulting on the matter.
In other elections, although not clear at this stage whether they will officially launch objections; Oarabile Ragoeng lost at Molepolole North by 1852 against Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri’s 1869 while Botsalo M Rabogadi trailed behind with 477 votes.
In Jwaneng-Mabutsane, both Dibeela Shobashoba and Amos Johanne were whitewashed by Mephato Reatile. Shobashoba garnered 702 while â€¨Johanne got 666 against Mephato Reatile’s whooping 2206. â€¨â€¨Batlhalefi Leagajang who has since publicly accepted the results was hammered by Mmusi Kgafela by 575 to 1759 votes in Mochudi West. Mogoditshane will be represented by Tshephang Mabaila. Mabaila won with 1227 votes against Patrick Masimolole’s 350, Mogogi Tshiamo’s 390, Kgang Kgang’s 342 and Otisitswe Baolwetse at 80.
In Gabane-Mankgodi, Philip Mokento, Pius Ntwayagae, Joseph Makati, lost to Kagiso Mmusi by 305, 227, and 847 against 2386 votes. In Ramotswa, Lentswe Monare lost by 1102 votes to Lefoko Moagi’s 2275. A political Analyst at the University of Botswana, Leornard Sesa said in view of the objections by BDP members that the party should introspect and consider reviewing Bulela Ditswe and halting it altogether if need be. “They need to introspect. In 2013 there were also a lot of complaints. The number of independent candidates was high.”
According to Sesa, this shows that Bulela Ditswe problems are far from over.
He stated that BDP members should not conduct these elections as there is unfairness and favouritism. “They should look for independent organizations or people to conduct the primary elections and not the party members who have proved to sway elections in favour of their friends and close associates at the expense of other contesters.”
This system of Bulela Ditswe, the political analyst said, leads to some disgruntled members often giving up when their appeal is not considered, ultimately leaving the party to join the opposition. “That is why the BDP popular vote has been dwindling; it sterms from the primary Elections,” he concluded.
Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.
Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.
She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”
Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.
On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.
“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.
One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.
The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”
The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.
Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.
Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.
Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.
This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.
He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.
Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”
He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.
Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.
“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”
In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.
He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.” Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.
Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.
He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”
Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.
“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.
“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said. Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.
Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.
The Global Gender Gap Index, a report published by the World Economic Forum annually, has indicated that Botswana is among countries that fare badly when it comes to representation of women in legislative bodies.
The latest Global Gender Gap Index, published last week, benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.
This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarked 146 countries. Of these, a subset of 102 countries have been represented in every edition of the index since 2006, further providing a large constant sample for time series analysis.
Botswana ranks number 66 overall (out of 146 countries), with good rankings in most of the pillars. Botswana ranks 1st in Health and Survival, 7th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity, 22nd in Educational Attainment, and 129th in Political Empowerment.
The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). The cross-country comparisons aim to support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.
The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour-force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative indicator gathered through the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar work).
Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).
The Educational Attainment sub-index captures the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education through the enrolment ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education. A longer-term view of the country’s ability to educate women and men in equal numbers is captured through the ratio of women’s literacy rate to men’s literacy rate.
Health and Survival sub-index provides an overview of the differences between women’s and men’s health using two indicators. The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women”, prevalent in countries with a strong son preference. Second, the index uses the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy.
This measure provides an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by accounting for the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other factors. Political Empowerment sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions. In addition, the reported included the ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the last 50 years.
In the last general elections, only three women won elections, compared to 54 males. The three women are; Nnaniki Makwinja (Lentsweletau-Mmopane), Talita Monnakgotla (Kgalagadi North), and Anna Mokgethi (Gaborone Bonnington North). Four women were elected through Specially Elected dispensation; Peggy Serame, Dr Unity Dow, Phildah Kereng and Beauty Manake. All female MPs — save Dow, who resigned — are members of the executive.
Overall, Botswana has 63 seats, all 57 elected by the electorates, and six elected by parliament. Early this year, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general and Gaborone North MP, Mpho Balopi, successfully moved a motion in parliament calling for increment of elective seats from 57 to 61. Balopi contented that population growth demands the country respond by increasing the number of MPs.
In Africa, Botswana play second fiddle to countries like Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, and Zimbabwe who have better representation of women, with Rwanda being the only country with more than 50 percent of women in parliament.
The low number of women in parliament is attributed to Botswana’s current, electoral system, First-Past-the-Post. During the 9th parliament, then MP for Mahalapye East tabled a motion in parliament in which she sort to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs in parliament to augment female representation in the National Assembly.
The motion was opposed famously, by then Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, who said the citizens were not in favour of such a move since it dilute democracy, instead suggesting the Botswana should switch to Proportional-Representation-System. Botswana is currently undergoing Constitutional Review process, with the commission, appointed in December, expected to deliver the report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by September this year.