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Maele blames “Powerful People”

The Minister of Land Development, Water and Sanitation, Prince Maele says he is ready to put his head on the bloc to prove that he has not been corrupted or is being corrupt in any format.

This follows a series of media reports that link him to controversial deals and decisions, with some questioning the manner in which he has acquired some of his assets. The Minister has reserved his rights in all the allegations made against him, however he pointed out that “this matter may be more than what meets the eye.”


POWERFUL PEOPLE TARGETING MAELE?


According to Maele, the matter is politically motivated because it stems from a decision that he made to unbundle a water 5 billion pula project into four so that it may be implemented faster in the interest of Batswana, particularly in the southern part of the country.
He says most people were going for months without water hence his decision to unbundle the project.


“Unfortunately, unbundling the project deprived some powerful people a chance to further enrich themselves from the misery of thirsty citizens in the southern part of Botswana. Had the project continued as it were, the project would have been completed in 5-7 years, and cost more than the original price, while the unbundling will see it completed in 2-3 years,” he told Weekend Post in a statement. Maele says the malicious people behind the smear campaign are hell bent on tarnishing anyone who gets in their way. “While I am a firm proponent of freedom of the press, I will not stand idle when this freedom is abused at the instance of nefarious characters. I therefore intend to do everything to restore my integrity and reputation, including taking legal recourse.”


MAELE TAKES AIM AT DCEC


The minister says he also takes note that the conduct of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) leaves much to be desired. If the DCEC progress report was leaked, then it suffices to doubt the integrity and credibility of the whole process of investigations.


“To see snippets of an investigation or investigations purportedly about me appearing in newspapers when I have not been warned of them, nor been told what I am being investigated for or the scope of the probe is troubling in the extreme. I shudder to imagine how the reporter got hold of the progress report when my side of the story is not being put forward. Of course, I am not above the law and so I have no problem with any organ of state investigating me if it believes it has cause to investigate me, in good faith,” said Maele.     

 
Maele said as a Minister, he is aware that he is subject to public scrutiny. “I do not mind much because I have nothing to hide. But I will never confuse pursuit of my personal interests with my duties and responsibilities as a Minister in which my country and fellow citizens come first. I take full responsibility for what happens in my Ministry; its successes and failures together. Above all, I have the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana and an oath of office to uphold.”


BUT WHAT DOES MAELE SAY TO THE ALLEGATIONS   


Maele confirms reports that he went to China with his wife, accompanied by a friend of Chinese origin, on a private trip. However, Maele says the Chinese companion did not and does not have any contract with his Ministry. “The trip was therefore not in exchange of any tender. But most of all, like any other Motswana, I have freedom of movement in the global village that the world has become, and am at liberty to choose where to go and with whom.”


Furthermore, Maele confirms that he has more than 200 cattle at his farm in Kaka. He says the purchasing of the cattle was a matter of straightforward commercial transactions “that entailed no money laundering because no such shady conduct was necessary”. Maele also confirms that he purchased a vehicle worth P100,000.00 in cash, some six years ago. “I was not a Minister, then. The vehicle, is a 2004 model BMW 725. When I purchased it in 2011, it was a 7-year old second-hand that no bank was prepared to finance. A personal loan was therefore raised to pay for the car.”

Furthermore the Minister says he has been in a helicopter to his farm with some friends. He says he sees nothing wrong with his actions. He labels allegations of suspicious transactions in his bank account as “fallacious”.

MAELE’S VERSION OF ‘LIES’ IN THE ALLEGATIONS

The embattled minister says he never had P300, 000.00 cash in my house or anywhere. “More importantly, no such sums were found by the DCEC or any person or organ in my house or any other place I have control over.” He rubbishes reports that he was involved in improper and corrupt dealings that led to the award of tenders such as the Phakalane link road without following due process.

Furthermore, he says, “I was neither involved in the adjudication of the said tender nor am I aware of any investigations that were or are being carried out by the DCEC or any organ of the state with regard to the tendering and/or execution of such a project. Ministers in government do not adjudicate, evaluate nor award tenders.”  Maele says he did not exert pressure for a change of land use in favour of Khato Civils, he calls this a blatant lie. He points out that Kgatleng Landboard took an independent resolution without any coercion from anybody.

“Documentation, as in minutes, is readily available for public scrutiny. That I attended the Bot50 party sponsored by Khato Civils in Sandton, South Africa can best be described as hallucination. I do not know anything about such a party or who may have attended it.”
Maele further denies issuing instructions to the PPADB to cancel a tender for the benefit of Khato Civils.

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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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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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