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BDP offers therapy to Bulela Ditswe losers

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 
Johanne got 666 against Mephato Reatile’s whooping 2206. 

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.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

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.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

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.

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SEZA’s P126 million tender heads to court

1st March 2021

Special Economic Zone Authority’s (SEZA) P126 million Master Planning of Pandamatenga Special Economic Zones Business Case, Urban & Landscapes tender is in court after one of bidders, Moralo Design challenged its disqualification from the tender.

SEZA is transforming Pandamatenga into an Agropolis which will combine modern farming with top notch industrial, residential, commercial and recreational land use. The project is measured at 137, 007 ha which comprises of 84, 500 ha for commercial production, 12 400 ha for the subsistence production, 107 ha will be for Agro-processing while 40 000 ha will be for the Zambezi Integrated Agro-commercial Project (ZIACDP).

In their court papers, Moralo Designs, represented by Jones Moitshepi Firm, said they received a letter from SEZA on or around the 12th November 2020 notifying that their bid has been disqualified at the technical evaluation stage of the tender adjudication process.

In their response, Lonely Mogara who is Chief Executive Office of SEZA said Moralo Designs is not entitled to be heard by the court as the company never participated in the disputed tender hence SEZA knows the bidder as Moralo Design Consortium.

“Moralo Designs had failed to establish any right to be heard by the court. The fact that they had submitted a tender was not guarantee that they would be awarded the tender,” he said.
“The reasons for the disqualification of Moralo Design Consortium’s bid were valid and justified because their bid was insufficient as it lacked vital information as required by the terms of reference.”

SEZA Chief said the requirements for the work plan and project programme were clearly stated in the Invitation To Tender (ITT). Moralo Design Consortium was not penalised for non-existent requirements.  In disqualifying the bid by Moralo Designs Consortium, Mogara further indicated that SEZA considered that there was a requirement for a programme and work plan.

“The purported “project programme” that was submitted by Moralo Design Consortium failed to depict the activity durations, activity phasing and interrelations, milestones, delivery dates of reports and logical sequence of activities constituent with methodology and showing a clear understanding of the terms of reference,” said Mogara in responding affidavit.

He said the ITT required that there be provision of delivery dates within the programme hence Moralo Designs Consortium failed to consult with SEZA when they felt that such a requirement would be impossible to provide.  He continued to say there was an avenue available when the tender was being prepared, but they failed to use it.

“Moralo Designs’ application for interim relief lacks merit and only seeks to delay SEZA from completing the evaluation and award of a tender that will serve the greater good of the nation,” said Mogara.

He went on to say Moralo Designs has no prospects of succeeding in its review application as the possibility of court granting the review are so remote in that the court does not possess the requisite technical knowhow on what constitutes an adequate work plan and what ought to be contained in it.

A bidder disqualified for failure to provide adequate information has no right to be protected by the court. Irreparable harm can only be suffered by one who has shown that there exists a right in so far as having stood the chance of being awarded the tender.

The financial benefit likely to be derived by Moralo Designs- which is highly unlikely- is outweighed by the nature of the project. In the unlikely event that the application for review is successful, they can claim for damages.  The availability of such remedy weighs in favour of the interdict being refused. The refusal stands to benefit the nation more than the financial interest that Moralo Designs seeks to protect.

Moralo Designs failed to establish the urgency of their application. They waited for more than a month and half after the disqualification to approach the court on urgency. Meanwhile when delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the detailed design and construction of 12 steel grain silos — with an overall storage capacity of 60 000 metric tonnes — is underway at the Pandamatenga SEZ and the P126 million project will be completed by August 2021.

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