Charismatic Leader of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Advocate Duma Gideon Boko has explained the second coming of embattled Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President, Sidney Pilane as simply a matter of law taking its cause.
Pilane was elected to steer the ship of the BMD over the past weekend in a special congress sanctioned by the UDC mother body. The congress followed disputed elections at a controversial Bobonong congress which gave birth to two groups, with one later bolting out to form the Alliance for Progressives (AP).
Speaking to Weekend Post in an exclusive interview outside the national assembly building this week, the UDC leader highlighted that the coming back of Pilane into the UDC fold, by virtue of being the BMD leader, and as Vice president of the Umbrella is a mere compliance of operation of the law.
As enshrined in the party constitution, there is a provision for two VP’s which are in the form of the BMD’s contentious leader and charming Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president, Dumelang Saleshando. Boko said: “there are certain things that flow from the operation of the law” which is termed ‘ex lege’ in Latin meaning ‘by operation of law’ and that the accepting the BMD and its leader in the UDC is but an example.
“As UDC, following the disputed congress, we ordered the BMD to ‘go and conduct a proper congress and elect a leadership’ so by operation of law if such leadership has been elected, the UDC is ready to work with that leadership,” Boko said in his signature pose while stressing law jargons.
To buttress his position he added that: “it is not sentimental. It’s not a function of love nor hatred nor emotions but rather ‘ex lege’ (by operation of law). So the BMD having complied with all the injunctions and instructions of UDC and having satisfied all the entire requirements laid down, now they can see to transact duties and stake in the Umbrella (UDC) and so they are welcome.”
Boko further defended the UDC VP Pilane saying they will not pre-judge him based on what others say in relation to his alleged association with the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General Isaac Kgosi whom he has legally represented although in his personal capacity. Although the matter pitted him against his former rivals in the BMD, Pilane has insisted that he will continue representing anyone who requires legal representation regardless of their line of work or political affiliation.
On continuing public debate on whether Pilane is credible and has integrity coupled with talks that he is not politically appealing, Boko questioned what that much talked about credibility was based on. He warned that “we are not going to pre-judge any person in the bases of biases and predilection of others. We are not going to hear about a person from that person’s lucid political rivals.”
The UDC leader also highlighted that he has not heard any electorate who has told him anything negative about, in this case Pilane, but he has listened to voters who have something negative to say about him (Boko) because they happen to be members of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), and it is their business to critique and criticize them. These are normal and these are the stuff that we will live by as politicians, Boko pointed out.
“So it’s not going to be based on this occasion two or three people expressing misgivings about an individual (Pilane) and all of a sudden the whole world is decided against that particular individual even if it’s not correct.” According to Boko, despite Pilane matter, there are a lot of people who appreciate the UDC and the efforts that it has engaged, and who respect the integrity of a leadership that is not sentimental; not emotional; and a leadership that is very calm and measured and principled in its resolution of whatever is presented before it.
When he was asked whether he is referring to AP, he said, “no, am not saying anybody is emotional but rather that integrity is about dispassionately assessing situations and facts and coming to a reasonable conclusion and determination on those facts.” Integrity, he added that should not be driven by whether a leader hates this one or like that one. He continued: “I may like you very much but still rule against you if you are wrong or if I think you are wrong. It’s not a function of love. I don’t have anybody in mind am just stating a general principle.”
When some say Pilane will dismantle UDC as he presumably did unto BMD, Boko said he is looking forward to that and perhaps more engaging – robustly because it helps the movement go forward. Boko, who is also Botswana National Front (BNF) leader, also said it does not matter whether Pilane was part of a stream that drafted the constitution amid talks that he may have crafted it in some point to favour him.
“On reports that Pilane crafted the constitution to favour him somehow, you know let me tell you, you people don’t understand the constitution.” He said there is something called constitutionalism which exists outside the document of the constitution and which gives life to this document.
“I am a constitutional lawyer by training. So when you talk constitution you are talking to me, you are talking the stuff that I do and that I have read at Harvard School of Law at the United States and at Lund University at Sweden. So I live the constitution, I breath the constitution. I am a constitutional expert. So I don’t get fazed whenever I hear people talk about the constitution no matter who drafted it. In this case Rre Pilane. I take it and apply it and it will do what it had to do.”
The Gaborone Bonnington North lawmaker also said he hears people saying that Pilane will somehow take away something somehow (UDC presidency they say), but they should rather also ask themselves from who is he taking away this (presidency) from. He warned: “even if it may be correct that you have that kind of track record (at BMD) you must know now you dealing with different people altogether (at UDC).”
Boko further cautioned: “so when people tell me, this one is going to cause trouble (Pilane), you know I am a trouble solver and a problem solver. So if there is going to be any problem, I am happy. I am home where there are problems. I will solve the problem even if they present themselves in the shape of a human being I solve problems.”
However Pilane has stated thus far that the BNF, as was agreed from the beginning, will continue under the BNF and that he has no interest in challenging Boko, at least for now. Pilane is expected to join Boko and Saleshando in their campaign rallies across the country soon as the party prepares for a stiff competition from BDP and newly formed AP in 2019 General Elections.
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.