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Mmolotsi: Pilane has kidnapped BMD

BMD Vice President of the Gaolathe led faction, Wynter Mmolotsi says Advocate Sydney Pilane has emerged as the covert third force behind the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD)’s turbulence in the run up to the National Congress in Bobonong.

Pilane is said to have made sure that the mediation meeting held at Bobonong Police Station to map a way forward following the violence that erupted at Matshekge Hill Secondary School bears no fruit, leaving Gaolathe’s faction with no option but to hold a parallel congress at Bobonong Junior Secondary School (JSS).

 Addressing the media after delivering a closing speech at their congress at Bobonong JSS, Mmolotsi revealed that while they expected the infamous triple M(Module, Mangole and Mmatli) at the mediation meeting at the police station, instead arrived Sydney Pilane who vehemently pointed out that nothing can be done except for proceeding with the election. While at the meeting, Modubule remained at Matshekge busy with the preparations for the election, making the mediation efforts worthless.

Mmolotsi says it is then that they realised that Pilane was all along the undercover hand secretly twisting the arms of the infamous “triple m” to skew the axis in his favour. Mmolotsi says Pilane is a high profile learned Advocate who however deliberately misinterpreted the constitution to favour his intention to abduct the movement from the people.

Mmolotsi says theirs was a legitimate congress as it involved all the relevant structures and delegates as per the BMD constitution as opposed to the Matshekge congress where the delegates were “hired from Gaborone and divided into groups of twelve as delegates of different branches.” He posits that the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) will recognise them as the legitimate committee as what the other faction did has all the hallmarks of criminality and therefore it will be irrational for Pilane’s led committee to be legitimised. He also pointed out that Pilane cannot possibly lead the BMD as his membership is still contentious, and therefore not a member of the BMD in good standing. Admittedly, Pilane’s membership is one of the items that will make the agenda of the committee when it starts executing its duties.

He says their aim is to open a new office at an affluent area where the vast majority of the BMD can easily have to access to. He further says their immediate action plan is to put into place functional structures of the BMD to ensure the smooth running of the movement in preparation for the 2019 General Election under the UDC. The emphasised the need for expediting the appointment of Disciplinary Committee as they foresee a lot of indiscipline following the congress. He says the Pilane faction members are still members of the BMD as they are still card carrying members of the movement.

Pilane on the other hand has claimed legitimacy, pointing out that the national congress of the BMD is organised under the auspices of the National Executive committee (NEC). He emphasised that the congress was not an opportunity for the suspended members to launch an appeal or negotiate terms of inclusion. Like Mmolotsi, Pilane accused Gaolathe’s faction to have hired delegates in order to stage a separate congress, something that he described as power hungry tactics.    

He stated that the mediation meeting with the police did not bear any fruit as the Gaolatlhe faction demanded the appointment of a new electoral board that would verify the voters roll yet the congress is called by the NEC which deals with all the preparations including verifying the voter’s roll. Pilane says that they are open for reconciliation but they are tired of begging Gaolathe’s faction to come to the table for reconciliation. He says the reports that vilifies his candidature for the BMD presidency are ill-advised as the BMD presidency does not belong to any particular individual but open to all members of the movement who express interest in the position.

BMD’s Liberal Constitution

Pilane who is reported to be the architect of the BMD liberal constitution told his followers at Matshekge that when they crafted the constitution, they were wary of centralising executive powers on the president as in the constitution of their former political home, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). He says theirs was carefully fashioned to avoid the fate that befell them at the hands of President Khama at BDP.  In hindsight, Pilane says they had to make sure that the president is not too powerful as they knew that they might encounter a similar problem if the presidency falls on the wrong hands. In BMD, Pilane says the more powers are entrusted on the Chairperson and the structures of the party but not the president.

Modubule/Mangole NEC

The triple m faction led by Nehemiah Modubule, Gilbert Mangole and Dr Tlamelo Mmatli elected Advocate Sydney Pilane as President with Dr Mmatli as the Vice President. Modubule and Mangole retained the position of Chairman and Secretary General respectively. Tseleng Botlhole deputises Mangole as Deputy Secretary General. Percy Bakwena was elected Treasurer General deputised by Simon Zingu while Freddy Ramodise and Christine Ramakgobo were elected National Organising Secretary and National Policy Director respectively. Nineteen (19) additional members were also elected. All positions were unopposed. Pilane has also requested the members to go nominate five more additional members who will be women.

When voting commenced, due diligence was not conducted to ensure that the delegates in the hall met a quorum. Pilane said there was no doubt the people on the hall formed a quorum, explaining that the quorum is only confirmed at the beginning of the congress and not when the voting commences.

Gaolathe/Mmolotsi NEC

The Gaolatlhe faction held their separate congress at Bobonong JSS where all suspensions were reversed to allow the expelled leaders to contest for positions in the NEC. The faction also rescind the decision to derecognise the BMD Youth League which the Modublue/Mangole faction had described as an unlawful gathering. It was moved that the election continue despite the absence of the NEC’s chairman and the secretariat. The new electoral board was endorsed with Dr Margaret Nasha being the election officer.

Ndaba Gaolatlhe retained the presidency together with Wynter Mmolotsi as Vice President. Major General Pius Mokgware was elected party chairman while Dr Phenyo Butale bagged the position of Secretary General assisted by Moalosi Sebati as deputy secretary general. The position Treasurer went to Rassie Oarabile Tshenyego with Vasco Tathego as Deputy Treasurer while Kabelo Mahupe and Fedric Kololo were elected policy director and national organiser respectively.

The committee has 15 additional members and additional five women that include Dr Margaret Nasha. These women, Mmolotsi referred to as national appointees. Unlike at Matshekge, Gaolathe’s faction confirmed the numbers of delegates from all relevant structures in the voters roll prior to voting. It had 40 branches with total number of delegates of 415 which included the four members of parliament and 30 councillors.           

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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