Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) officials mediating at the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) impasse have rubbished the talks alluding to a formation of a new party by Ndaba Gaolathe group.
A high level source who sits at the talks deliberating on the BMD mediation confirmed to Weekend Post that Ndaba group “did not mention or present the new party proposal at the meeting” but was only emphasizing on “the need to go for a re-run of the party congress” subsequent to the disputed one. “So as UDC we should not act on the basis of threats of forming a new party by some people entitled to their opinions – it could be just threats – and we can’t plan on the basis of speculation,” he insisted when queried on the new talked-about party said to be named Botswana Peoples Movement (BPM).
Speculation was rife this week that the party will be registered at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) but the UDC dismissed the allegations. According to the immaculate source, the talks of the formation of party if they are anything to go by it would mean that the Ndaba group request for UDC mediation was not done in good faith from the beginning. The mother body has acceded to meet the besieged party two groups separately and so far has met with Ndaba’s and waiting to meet with the other one headed by Advocate Sidney Pilane on the 4th September 2017.
The new date set follows their request to postpone the planned meeting of the 24 August which failed as the leader Pilane was said to be outside the country. In light of the two warring factions who now could not see eye to eye particularly following the Bobonong disputed congress, the mother body has since written to both camps to mediate in which they welcomed the move. Just this week, Ndaba led group which were around 30 member delegation, met with the UDC top brass to deliberate on their submission in the impasse – which threatens the life of the new opposition entrant and by large and extension the new opposition coalition.
The coalition is to be tested in its debut in 2019 General Elections as one entity comprising the beleaguered BMD, Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP). According to the high level member of UDC sitting at the talks deliberating on the mediation, they see postponement of the meeting by Pilane faction as reasonable because the ring leader was outside the country on the said date allotted for the meeting.
“So we felt it was reasonable to postpone as we wanted all group members to be present when they undertake submissions at the mediation particularly the leaders. We don’t want to meet with a portion of the committee. We don’t want to have a deliberation and they go narrate somewhere else,” the leading partner in the talks told Weekend Post. The Pilane faction, he said sent a letter to the UDC top brass suggesting some options of dates to consider for meeting them when they will be present all of them to make submissions.
In return the UDC wrote back to them indicating that “we settle for the 4th September 2017,” the member pointed out who also said they felt that between now and the 4th is a reasonable time to accede to their request. The top politician said however by acceding to their request doesn’t demonstrate that they are biased in anyway. He justified by pointing out that: “you remember the same Pilane group requested for recusal of BNF Vice President Prince Dibeela but since they failed to provide valid reasons we also did not assent to their request.”
According to the UDC member, he also said they felt the suggestion by Ndaba group to have resolved the matter by August 31st was also not reasonable. He added that the BMD, to their admittance has been grappling with the standoff for more than two years now, and wondered how they are expected to resolve the issue instantly as if they are magicians. “Anyway we told them to exercise patience on the matter as we move swiftly to address the matter cautiously,” he said.
Information has also surfaced that Boko may have tried to intervene before the Bobonong congress but the legitimate party leader then may have felt that the situation is under control. It is said he was adamant and believed that the congress will resolve the matter. The UDC source said they want to reach a compromise where both sides may climb down from their earlier positions. Indications however suggest that both parties have reached an irreconcilable stage. They have proved that they no longer can work with each other as they don’t share common values and vision.
When speaking on behalf of the UDC, party official mouthpiece Moeti Mohwasa said they cannot speak to the media on the matter unless their communication has reached the intended recipients (Pilane faction). BMD is embroiled in bickering two factions both whom claim legitimacy to National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party. However Weekend Post has it on good authority that the letter confirming the 4th September for Pilane group meeting has reached the Pilane group and now they only await for the leader to return to the country.
The UDC spokesperson also dismissed reports of a new party looming while stressed that they “are still ceased with reconciling the two groups to find a common goals and we are focused on that.” The Botswana Movement for Democracy-BMD National Executive Committee led by President Ndaba Gaolathe appeared before the UDC NEC on the 22nd of August 2017. The objective of the meeting was to present oral and written submissions of our case in order to help the committee find a solution to the Bobonong BMD impasse.
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.”
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.