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MPs want answers on ESP, Constituency Fund

Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale and his counterpart at Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane will this coming week appear before the ruling party caucus to answer to a litany of concerns regarding projects under their ministries.

Worried by unfulfilled promises and secrecy surrounding the much hyped Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) and the recently introduced Constituency Fund, ruling party backbenchers want the two ministers to give report cards on the two programmes. The ESP is reported to have drained government coffers an astounding P1.6 billion from, while the constituency fund totalled P570 million with each constituency being entitled to P10 million. When ESP was launched in Sefhare-Ramokgonami constituency a number of constituencies were promised their share of the cake but most are yet to receive the goods.

Various legislators including Liakat Kablay and Ngaka Ngaka of Letlhakeng peripheral constituencies have enquired about the process of distributing developments equally albeit in vain. However, this coming week Molale is expected to give the report card of the programme. “Though I can’t vividly remember which projects were allocated to which area, to be honest the ESP has fared below average, look at my constituency there is nothing, but initially I was promised a junior school in Ngware,” observed the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chief Whip, Kablay.

“It milked government millions if not billions of pula and it’s only appropriate to demand to know to what extent the initiative has stimulated the economy. You will find that some constituencies were promised a number of projects but two years down the line, there is nothing, we expected around 500 houses in my constituency from the program, nothing!” said one MP.

With all these complaints, Molale will appear before his colleagues on Tuesday to explain what happened to the programme and possibly inform the legislators as to whether the programme will continue in the coming years or not.  “There is nothing to show our people at the constituencies, so he will present to us as to what’s next for those who were excluded from the development,” added another MP. The party chairman Mokgweetsi Masisi has reportedly long tasked the two Ministers to report back on the two government initiatives for the MPs’ appreciation.

Still at the gathering the MPs will want to know what could be delaying the distribution of the P10 million constituency funds.  “We are told the funds have been disbursed to the Ministry’s offices so we want to know what could be delaying the money to get to the district offices. There are reports that the money has been disbursed to the council so we want clarity. Remember, initially we suggested the money to be distributed via Presidential Affairs and Public Administration ministry but it failed though we knew it was going to be easy that way,” party chief whip Kablay said.

The MPs want to have control over usage of the money but were given an opaque response as to whether they will get their way or not. MPs are of the view that the current development regarding the disbursing of the money opened avenues for misuse and abuse.
The determined backbenchers reportedly told Tsogwane that they will fight for the proper channelling of the funds. Government introduced this developmental fund at constituency level in order to transform the economy and develop lives at constituency level.

The two schemes were to run parallel to the National Development Plan (NDP) 11 and the popular Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) and would not cause or interrupt any existing development programme. The government launched the Economic Stimulus Program (ESP) with the aim to boost the national economy.

“The ESP is a program that is meant to boost economic growth through increased government spending in identified sectors; diversify the economy and accelerate employment creation,” President Ian Khama was quoted as saying when launching the initiative in Machaneng village in eastern Botswana.

The Program was in response to the current unfavourable economic climate following the world economic recession of 2008/2009 which has resulted in job losses. "One of the major challenges in the economy is fall of commodity prices in the mining sector including diamonds," Khama had said at the launch.

"There is a need to diversify the economy even more so as to create sustainable jobs and to be able to cushion the economy against the international shocks of the mineral process," he said. The program, aimed at boosting the national economy through accelerated job creation and citizen empowerment using the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) and harnessing the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) program for citizens, has been given national attention since its introduction by President Khama last November.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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