Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane has warned that recent events will most likely lead to unprecedented violence in the history of Botswana in the build up towards the 2019 General Elections.
Ntuane has observed that the political climate is becoming hostile with the level of intolerance both in the BDP and opposition having reached high levels. Although Ntuane initially stated this during the BDP Tonota Congress, in his report as secretary general, he reiterated his stand following the violence which erupted at the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Congress last weekend. Several people were injured in the battle for the party’s soul leading to many people condemning the acts.
“Batswana will remember me in 2019. In my secretary general congress report I foretold a violent general election. Preceded by violence at BDP in the run-up to Tonota; now the violence in Bobonong. It is building up to a perfect storm of violence in 2019 at this rate,” he shared with his followers on social media. Ntuane later told this publication that in his view it is time the civil society, clergymen and the media start preaching peace in order to avert the situation. At the BDP Congress in Tonota, it was reported that the party had received an unprecedented number of petitions regarding delegates’ selections in the lead up to the congress which indicated heightened tensions between camps which were contesting for central committee positions.
The party also heard that there was an increase in the number of disciplinary cases which points to a fact that a growing number of members may be losing their way in the heat of tense political moments. “As the ruling party that has overseen the peace and tranquillity in Botswana for the last 50 years, we cannot turn a blind eye to growing hostilities within and between various political parties,” said Ntuane. “If left unchecked, this nation will someday find itself embroiled in political violence that we never thought possible.”
The former Gaborone North South (now Gaborone Bonnington South) legislator indicated that early signs such as toxic language on radios, hostile altercations at bye-elections meant that more could be coming. He said while the ruling party could not dictate to opposition parties what to do, the ruling party should be a leading example. Ntuane has emerged as a pacifist in the BDP and he does not regret his decision to snub the party lobby list ahead of the Tonota Congress. He said he did so in the interest of the party as a way of promoting unity ahead of the crucial party primary elections and the 2019 general elections.
Ntuane also wishes to see the tension between the ruling party and Trade Unions, especially BOFEPEUSU easing out. BOFEPUSU and government have been at loggerheads since 2011. Among African countries Botswana is ranked as the most peaceful and the longest standing democracy in Africa. Since 1965, Botswana has held general elections every five years without fail with both participating parties accepting the results. The BDP has been in power since 1965.
However, the 2014 dynamics put to test Botswana’s democratic and peace credentials as the nation approaches the highly anticipated 2019 general elections. For the first time in history, BDP’s popular vote fell below 50 percent opening up the possibility of the party losing power in the next general election. Several electoral reforms have also created an environment of uncertainty as far as the country’s peace is concerned. These reforms include the introduction of the controversial Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) which is being challenged in court by opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP). Already opposition has marched in protest to the introduction of the EVM.
Some section of the society, including the late former President Sir Ketumile Masire believe the EVM could become one of the factors of instability which is unnecessary in the lead up to the 2019 general elections. The EVMs have its own opponents in the BDP among them party veteran Daniel Kwelagobe who has gone on record saying there is no case for introducing the EVM.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.