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Masisi cautioned on Cabinet selection

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers have cautioned Vice President and party Chairman Mokgweetsi Masisi about his ministers who undermine them (backbenchers) particularly on issues of information sharing on government activities.

The backbenchers finally broke their silence and raised their concerns on the issues this week at a BDP meeting, also suggesting some amendments they wish could be applied within the cabinet to make it a resolute force. The backbenchers’ other gripe is that they do not have a cordial relationship with cabinet ministers, despite belonging to the same party. This, according to the backbenchers will do the party no good as they are supposed to be at the same level with ministers in terms of information so that at any time they will be able to debate any issue with opposition.

They told Masisi that whenever they want clarity on something from their counterparts, the ministers give out a vibe of feeling threatened or challenged. Chief whip, Liakat Kablay is of the view that, by sharing the issues with them, ministers would be doing good service to the party as they (backbenchers) would be able to voice them out, unlike ministers who cannot speak at free will. “But their positions censor them, we as backbenchers can talk, so they should share with us,” he revealed.

“If you ask how far with ESP or any developmental project in your area motho o a tenega (the person gets angry) such that you wonder if you said something wrong or what,” another legislator who spoke on condition of anonymity said. “Re a bona gore gare mmogo golo ha, (We get the sense that we are not one) the impending reshuffle has ministers positioning themselves for plum posts especially the Vice President position,” said the source.

The backbenchers hinted, as an example, the recent enquiries by Selibe Phikwe West MP Dithapelo Keorapetse on government’s laxity in resuscitating the dilapidated BCL mine and on the welfare of its former employees.  “Keorapetse is always politicking about it, ministers were supposed to respond against what he was saying because they had the information but in vain. If they are to keep quiet then the opposition will also win debates in public fora. If they can give us information then we wouldn’t shy away from responding. We should defend our country, government and party,” one MP said at the party meeting.

Because of the ministers’ attitudes against them, the backbenchers now feel they have been rendered obsolete. The backbenchers are also concerned about the elevation of specially elected MPs to cabinet. According to the backbenchers, only those who have been democratically elected should be eligible for nomination in ministerial positions.

 “They don’t know the pains of campaigning and of being grilled by constituents for failing. When you call them to visit your constituency they are reluctant to come, some even tell you casually that there is no money?” the MP added. “So if cabinet is made up of people who know the twinge of politics, when you ask them to visit your constituency they would not hesitate because they know what it means.”

The disgruntled backbenchers submitted to Masisi that ministers are controlled by Permanent Secretaries whom too don’t know the struggle of politicking. Some names like that of former Army commander Tebogo Masire and Policy Specialist at Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Lawrence Ookeditse are reportedly earmarked for some ministerial portfolios.

Of the six specially elected MP’s, four of them are cabinet ministers being; Unity Dow, Kitso Mokaila, Eric Molale and Kenneth Mathambo. The other two are Mephato Reatile and Bogolo Kenewendo. “They are said to be bringing quality but, they should seat at the backbench so that they throw in suggestions to those occupying those seats [ministerial positions]. Ministers are not allowed to ask question or table motions but when those ‘intelligent’ additions are in the back-bench they will throw in some good suggestions that would eventually help this country,” said the MP.

Masisi’s nonverbal gestures at the meeting according to sources gave backbenchers hope that he might rethink his initial cabinet posts come April 1st next year. Furthermore Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Thapelo Olopeng and Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Edwin Batshu warmed up to the idea. On the other side minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Eric Molale was reportedly restless at the time the agenda was discussed.  

It is not the first time ministers and MP’s quarrel, in August this year they were at loggerheads over salary increment. They went on to argue again at the party caucus over parliamentary standings amendments earlier this year. The democrats’ legislators further accused cabinet of being silent even in party meetings.

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BODANSA strikes gold with a handsome P45K windfall from Turnstar Holdings

27th February 2024

The Botswana DanceSport Association (BODANSA) has been graced with a financial boon of P45,000 courtesy of Turnstar Holdings. This generous endowment is earmarked for the illustrious Botswana International Dance Sport Grand Prix Championships, which are scheduled to animate Gaborone from Friday to Saturday.

At a media engagement held early today, BODANSA’s Marketing Maestro, Tiro Ntwayagae, shared that Turnstar Holdings Limited has bestowed a gift of P45,000 towards the grand spectacle.

“We are thrilled to announce that this backing will enable us to orchestrate a cultural soirée at the Game City Marque locale, a night brimming with cultural fervor set for March 1, 2024, from 6pm to the stroke of midnight.

This enchanting space will also serve as the battleground for the preliminaries of traditional dance ensembles—spanning the rhythmically rich Setapa to the euphoric beats of Sebirwa, the spirited Seperu, the heavenly Hosana, and more—in a competition folded into the Traditional Dance Groups Category. The ensemble that dances into the judges’ hearts will clinch a grand prize of P10,000,” elaborated Ntwayagae.

He further illuminated that the cultural eve would not only celebrate traditional melodies but also the fresh beats of contemporary dance variants including Hip Hop, Sbujwa, Amapiano, among others, in a dazzling display of modern dance mastery.

Moreover, these championships carry the prestigious recognition by the World DanceSport Federation as a qualifying round for the Breakdance category for the Paris 2024 Olympics. “This is a monumental opportunity for athletes to leap towards their Olympic dreams during one of the penultimate qualifiers,” underscored Ntwayagae.

Looking ahead to March 2, 2024, the festivities will propel into the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena for the championship’s climactic showdowns encompassing Breakdance, Latin, and Ballroom Dancing.


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Government of Botswana yet to sign, ratify the UN-CRPD

26th February 2024

In Botswana, a beacon of democracy in Africa, the right to participate in the political discourse is a cornerstone of its societal structure. It’s an avenue through which citizens shape the rules and systems that govern their everyday lives. Despite this, recent studies indicate that Individuals with Disabilities (IWDs) are notably absent from political dialogues and face substantial hurdles in exercising their democratic freedoms.

Research within the nation has uncovered that IWDs encounter difficulties in engaging fully with the political process, with a pronounced gap in activities beyond mere voting. The call for environments that are both accessible and welcoming to IWDs is loud, with one participant, who has a physical disability, spotlighting the absence of ramps at voting venues and the dire need for enhanced support to facilitate equitable involvement in the electoral process.

The challenges highlighted by the study participants pinpoint the structural and social obstacles that deter IWDs from participating wholly in democracy. The inaccessibility of voting facilities and the lack of special accommodations for people with disabilities are critical barriers. Those with more significant or intellectual disabilities face even steeper challenges, often feeling marginalized and detached from political engagement.

To surmount these obstacles, there is an urgent appeal for Botswana to stride towards more inclusive and accessible political stages for IWDs. This necessitates a committed effort from both the government and relevant entities to enforce laws and policies that protect the rights of IWDs to partake in the political framework. Enhancing awareness and understanding of the political landscape among IWDs, alongside integrating inclusive practices within political entities and governmental bodies, is crucial.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing an inclusive political environment, Botswana can live up to its democratic ideals, ensuring every citizen, regardless of ability, can have a substantive stake in the country’s political future.



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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.



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