Masisi shines in Khama’s absence at BDP caucus
At a poorly attended Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) weekly caucus and lobbying meeting on Tuesday, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi used the absence of President Lt Gen Ian Khama to smitten himself with Members of Parliament and released his anti-venom against opposition motions which in his view are aimed at winning the hearts of civil servants.
A particular target this week was Selibe Phikwe West Member of Parliament, Dithapelo Keorapetse, who has tabled three bills aimed improving the conditions of service for Police Officers, Soldiers and Prison Warders by amending the Acts establishing their employers. Keorapetse’s motion became a subject of discussion for most of the Tuesday morning meeting. “We discussed that at length, although some supported Keorapetse’s motion, it was resolved that we should shot the motion down during voting.
This is so because, the Minister (Kgathi) is also looking at the issue of improving the conditions of service of police officers and it wouldn’t look good for an opposition member to become such a darling to the public servants while the Minister is still cooking something for them. This is politics remember,” one Member of Parliament from the BDP corner shared. The Weekendpost mole couldn’t clearly reveal what exactly is in the pipeline from the Minister’s side, to offer police officers what Keorapetse’s Bill amendment was proposing. As per the spirit of the caucus, the amendment bill from the Selibe Phikwe West MP was shot down a two days later after it received 12 votes in support with 20 opposing it.
Keorapetse’s proposed Police amendment bill, BDF amendment Bill and Prisons amendment bill had sought to improve the conditions of service for the police, BDF and Prisons officers. However, according to sources, this was seen by the BDP caucus as a political gimmick aimed at winning the hearts of public servants. The Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi led the chorus that called for castration of the proposed amendments. Kgathi was unapologetic that this is a fight for the vote of public servants and his view is that the BDP is in power and it should bring laws to parliament and should not be outshined by the opposition. Kgathi comes from the same village as Keorapetse and the latter’s party, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is the closest rival at every election since 2004.
Easy going Masisi makes promises
The meeting which Masisi chaired and was seen as easy-going when compared to the usual chairperson, President Khama, resolved on other issues which had concerned the BDP legislators for some time. This publication gathered that the BDP backbenchers told Masisi that there is need to align the standing orders to move with the times. “The Standing Orders effectively say Ministers are not under any pressure to answer questions from us backbenchers because they can tell half-truths, distort information, refuse to answer, waste time with unnecessary information and even totally refuse to answer questions,” said one frustrated backbencher. He indicated that Kgathi has on numerous occasions been labelled as the ‘stubborn’ Minister because he never adequately respond to questions from Members of Parliament especially those from the opposition. He always treat them with contempt.
Another standing order which the MPs want changed is that which deals with powers of the Speaker of the National Assembly. They argued that this will reduce executive dominance as it is the case today. “We also want to reduce secrecy especially from top civil servants like Directors and Permanent Secretaries who are not allowed to update us about anything on behalf of the government without permission, but we are their custodians so we want this to be changed,” said another MP.
With the charming Masisi chairing the meeting, the BDP MPs were promised that very soon the orders will be visited. “Actually it could have been aligned in July but the passing on of Sir Ketumile Masire changed everything, so we will soon address those issues according to the leadership.” Given this rare opportunity to express themselves freely without hurry and the pressure of time as is normally the case with the strict President Khama, BDP MPs who spoke to this publication are of the view that they addressed a number of issues efficiently.
With only four parliamentary sessions left before the general elections, the Members of Parliament also spoke against the idea of piling motions. There currently mountains of motions which are yet to be presented by MPs from across the political divide.
BDP MPs are worried that some motions will not get the chance to be debated because the 2019 general elections are fast approaching. “There is literally a truck-load of motions and bills that are yet to be put on the floor and some were lamenting they might never see the light of the day. So we suggested that we should push them especially on days where we finish debates early then we can look and push the motions. But it was promising because it appears it is also a concern on many of the democrats.”
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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup
With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.
Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.
The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.
Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.
“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.
Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.
Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.
For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.
Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS
The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.
When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.
Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.
She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Storesâ€™ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.
During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.
Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017
Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.
According to the last weekâ€™s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd,Â the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.
However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.
â€śAlthough PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,â€ť said one of Botswanaâ€™s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.
While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, â€śThe Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Areaâ€ť in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,â€ť a release from the PAP website reads.
“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.
The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.