Botswana President who is also the leader of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama and long time BDP strongman Daniel Kwelagobe threw tantrums at each other during the funeral of ex-president Sir Ketumile Joni Quett Masire.
The state funeral of the ex-president which was characterized by somber mood as well as laughter alike to break the ice was conducted on Thursday at his home residence at Goo Motebejana ward at Kanye. The former President died last week at the age of 91 at Bokamoso Private Hospital in Gaborone. At the funeral, Khama and Kwelagobe exchanged jabs in front of distinguished leaders among them Lesotho’s King Letsie III, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa who graced the funeral.
Also in attendance were former Botswana President Festus Mogae, ex- Presidents Thabo Mbeki (South Africa), Armando Guebuza (Mozambique), Benjamin Mkapa (Tanzanian) and serving Deputy Prime Ministers of both Swaziland and Lesotho. First to draw blood was Kwelagobe, who was the longest serving Member of Parliament until he lost last 2014 elections. In delivering his eulogy, he made sure it was punctuated by the theme that the country is at crossroads.
The BDP strongman indirectly advised the current government to introspect and he continuously stated that “we are at crossroads”. Kwelagobe said that during moments like this, the leadership needs to look back at the legacy of the architects of Botswana such as Masire, to lend a leaf from them on how to run a government and deliver themselves and the nation from challenges.
He observed that Masire’s unrelenting attribute was his inclination for intra party democracy in the BDP and the significance of being steadfast and in compliance to the party’s constitution, rules and policies as well as traditions which define the soul of the party he, together with Sir Seretse Khama founded. “Democracy both within the party and in public affairs was not merely a slogan or principle to which lip service was paid. Masire was a democrat at heart. He lived and breathed democracy,” Kwelagobe said.
According to Kwelagobe, thorough, robust and wide ranging consultation defined Masire’s leadership to the core. “If you are on a journey and you get lost on the way, go back to the crossroads and ask for directions from those who know the road well,” he maintained in which speech, in which Khama was seen from time to time taking “notes.”
Kwelagobe also took a swipe at Khama and the government for failure to honour the founding fathers thus far hence consequently summoning them to honour the legend by naming some facilities, streets, stadia under his name – as a priority going forward. According to Kwelagobe, Masire left the presidency 20 years ago, but nothing in this country has been named after him, so, “we bury him with his legacy it appears.” Kwalegobe then stated boldly: “I humbly requests my government to review our honours policy and make sure that Sir Ketumile is appropriately honoured.”
The former Molepolole legislator maintained in his eulogy as a family friend to the longest serving president Sir Masire that the government should also speed up and name one of its facility after President Masire in honour to great service he has rendered to the nation over the years spanning in more than 60 years.
However when he took to the podium to also give a eulogy to the second president and founder of Botswana, President Khama upon realizing the indirect attack from Kwelagobe, also threw political salvos to the former Molepolole law maker who had spoken before him as they paid tribute to former president Masire. “I do not want to spare Kwelagobe (in terms of what he said before),” he said adding that “kana ene ke motho yoo ratang go tswa mo tseleng (meaning he naturally likes being non conformist/ defying the consensus or getting out of the way).
To tear him into line, Khama in responding to Kwelagobe stated that: “in terms of the honours policy of our leaders – we have a blue print of such already in place. And it was crafted at the time when Kwelagobe himself was a sitting cabinet Minister.” Khama continued: “but obviously he (Kwelagobe) has forgotten because he was pre-occupied with the issue of cabinet and legislators salary adjustments which he mentioned earlier in his speech. Eish, politicians!”
Kwelagobe had prior pointed out in his tribute that, Botswana in terms of salaries of cabinet Ministers, was the lowest when comparing to others in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. In light of this, he (Kwelagobe) and colleagues in cabinet then demanded a salary hike, in which Masire is understood to have said to the ministers that they may continue with the adjustment but – at his exclusion as a president.
His contention against the idea was premised on the fact that Botswana was still poor and many citizens were also suffering and needed that money than the cabinet minister or Members of Parliament. Khama also asserted: “so, that is something we are going to do (honouring Masire). In fact, it was only yesterday that I was also discussing this matter with BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane, whom he can attest to this. I hope he is here with us. Oh there he is (pointing a finger at him).”
Khama then accused the non suspecting Ntuane of “not wearing properly” as he was clad in communism regalia. In light of the attire, the president invited South African Mbeki, Ramaphosa in jest to lure Ntuane to the Communist party in their country. The fourth president maintained that the issue of Honouring Masire will be tabled at the next cabinet meeting in which they will discuss on what way to honour the statesman and which facilities to name after Sir Masire.
When Khama stated this, he received a thunderous applause from the mourning audience which had been quickly switched on to a euphoric mood. “So Kwelagobe spoiled the disposition by revealing the undisclosed secrets while it’s still early which forced me to spill the beans on this ongoing process to honour Sir Masire,” President Khama pointed out to Kwelagobe.
He continued: “and where are the roads crossed,” he asked Kwelagobe rhetorically while adding that “we will go back there and ask for directions leading to the right way, the straight way – and I will make sure I go there with you,” he added in which the crowd teared up in laughter upon recognizing the punch line directed to Kwelagobe.
Former presidents ‘cheated’, Masisi may serve 5 years
From Kwelagobe, Khama also said that we should not be mourning but celebrating the life of Sir Masire. He reminded all that Masire was Minister of Finance and Development Planning concurrently with being the Vice President for 14 years as well as President for 18 years.
President Khama also said that the former presidents, his father Sir Seretse Khama who served 14 years, and Masire who served 18 years as president, both of whom are now late – cheated the Presidents that came thereafter as they are only restricted and compelled to serve only 10 years each respectively.
“My father did 14 years, Masire did 18 years, Mogae will do 10 years, and I am also going to serve for 10 years. So the duo has cheated me together with the third President Mogae. So, it appears it’s going down, be careful you Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi when you become president. They might give you only 5 years,” the hypothetically mourners again laughed their lungs out at the time when President was having a field day on previous speakers at the funeral. Khama was the last to speak on the line-up.
Memories as BDF Commander under President Masire
He said as you know “I served under President Masire while I was still the Commander of Botswana Defense Force (BDF), my memories are when I regularly toured with him around BDF operational areas, as he was our Commander in Chief.” He pointed out that there is one incident in which he has been debating of whether to remind former BDF Commander under him Tebogo Carter Masire about, although he said he wasn’t there at the time.
It was at one of these bases in the Okavango area, he said adding that as you heard from Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe that Okavango is an area which has a lot of water. Mugabe has spoken before him of how Masire hosted him at the Okavango Delta in north western Botswana.
“Some of our operations, we, or the BDF conducted on horseback because the water is so deep the vehicles cannot go through. So we took him to one of the places where we do the horse riding and trainings. One of our Captain Officers said President Masire would like to ride one of the horses and before Masire could answer I said ‘no’ the president does not want to ride.”
Khama continued to narrate: “but knowing him, as he was, he said he wanted to ride the horses. And I wondered what I was going to tell Batswana incase he falls from the horse while riding. So I said to the captain find me the gentlest horse which won’t misbehave. And then find me the second gentle horse so that I ride it, because I had a few experiences of falling from a horse on my life. So what happened later we all know by now. The gentlest horse misbehaved. And it threw him off. The President (Masire) fell. And that Captain Officer the next day was a Civilian,” meaning that he was fired.
Khama’s leadership style
President Khama has been accused of being an authoritarian leadership who is hell bent on applying the kind of discipline he has inherited from the barracks in his days as member of BDF and later as Commander. Some observers believe that his leadership style as president is a deviation from the founding fathers leadership style which was premised on utmost democracy through thorough consultations.
The first and the second president initiated the national principles being Democracy, Development, Self Reliance, Unity and Botho while Khama brought in his own road map of 5 “D’s of Development, Democracy, Discipline, Dignity and Delivery. President Masire had also sent a chilling message in 2014 at a funeral of opposition Botswana Movement for Democracy leader Gomolemo Motswaledi that some leaders only want to make a name for themselves against a collective in which they founded Botswana and instilled nationalism.
Despite the government of Botswana’s ambition to have one of its own to lead Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) since its establishment in 1980, the Presidency says there is no budget specifically dedicated to the campaign.
The Government has released the name of Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Mpedi Magosi, as the candidate for the SADC Executive Secretary position. Magosi is expected to face off with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) candidate, Faustin Mukela. The position will become vacant in August this year.
However, despite the optimism the Botswana Government has not yet set aside a budget to assist Magosi to win against the seemingly DRC giant. “We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the country’s ability to effectively fund any new project. This campaign is not an exception. As such, we do not have any budget for the campaign. However, we have so far managed to take advantage of His Excellency the President’s working visits to the neighbouring countries to also carry out the campaigns,” Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang, explained.
Botswana has housed SADC since the establishment of the then SADCC in 1980, but has never occupied top most leadership positions at the SADC Secretariat. “We therefore, strongly believe that we should also have an opportunity to contribute to the management of our regional body as it continues to drive the important issues of regional integration industrialization and socio-economic development.
This will also profile Botswana as a strong advocate of regional integration,” he responded to this publication’s questionnaire as to why the Government wants to occupy the plum post. SADC is a Member State driven organization. As such, Leagajang said, needs a well-grounded Executive Secretary with a blend of management and leadership acumen; a transformational leader with political awareness and integrity; private and public sector experience; a deep culture of corporate governance; as well as strategic agility and result-oriented consummate diplomat.
“These are the unique attributes of our candidate,” he said. So far President Mokgweetsi Masisi has visited nine out of 16 SADC member states on a working visit and also taking an opportunity to present to them his candidate.
“The countries have appreciated this effort and we remain hopeful. However, it is important to note that this is a democratic and competitive process which must be respected,” he responded when asked about the reception and assurances from various countries to cast a vote for Magosi.
In 2018, when Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi challenged for the Africa Union (AU) Chairperson, the government appointed former President Festus Mogae to be the campaign leader. Does the Government have anyone apart from Masisi to help with the campaign?
“The campaigns for the candidate are strictly led by the Government of Botswana. Since this is a candidate for Botswana, not just the Government, it will be appreciated if all Batswana, including the media, could also shoulder the responsibility to campaign for the candidate in their own spheres of influence,” Leagajang responded.
While there are sceptics on Magosi winning against the DRC man, the Government is confident and believes that with the unique traits that he possess, Magosi stands a chance. He is said to be a strong advocate of justice and fairness as he has played this role in his current role as PSP and in his previous roles as PS and in the private sector. He has helped individuals and companies to find justice and fairness in most of their dealings with Government.
Magosi is also said to be a proponent of corporate governance and which he has relentlessly pursued in most of his career including in Government and other sectors. A strong believer in following laid down procedures and laws. “He carries a variety of skills as an HR expert with experience in different sectors, a strategist and an Organization development specialist.
His experience and exposure spans government, parastatal, private sector and at regional level as well, thus making him a suitable candidate for the regional role. He has worked with governments, businesses, development partners and politicians and is comfortable navigating through all of them,” Leagajang concluded.
The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila looked a politician set to shoot the moon as he laid bare his billions of pula development agenda recently in Parliament.
His Ministry’s combined Recurrent and Development Budget Proposals for the 2021/ 2022 Financial Year is pegged at Four Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty – Five Million, two Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P4, 365, 219, 560). This is a budget 38.3% more than the allocation for the 2020/2021 Financial Year.
Mzwinila preluded his request to parliament with a demonstration that his Ministry has no champagne taste on a beer budget – indicating that his ministry’s expenditure at the end of February 2021P2.111 Billion or 96% of development budget; and P910 million or 90% of the recurrent budget.
Notwithstanding the budget dust, the Minister justified this year’s increase in the Ministry’s total budget. He attributed the escalation to the commencement of major projects under the water sector. These include the implementation of the North South Carrier (NSC) 22.2 covering various sub projects. Mzwinila noted that these are all public value projects which are aimed at improving the lives of Batswana.
Mzwinila’s Ministry has projected that the sum of Nine Hundred and Sixty –Three Million, Nine Hundred and Forty – Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P963, 947, 560) be permitted for the Recurrent Budget and stand part of the 2021 / 2022 Appropriation Bill ( No. 1 of 2021).
“55% of the Recurrent Budget is geared towards the Revenue Support Grant for 12 Land Boards and their subordinate authorities while the sum of P5 Million is allocated to the Real Estate Advisory Council (REAC). The remaining 44% is proposed for the Ministry Departments.”
The sum of Three Billion, Four Hundred and One Million, Two hundred and Seventy –Two Thousand Pula (P3, 401, 272, 000), for the Development Budget was approved and stand part of the same schedule of the appropriation (2021/2022).
When breaking down the Development Budget, Minister Mzwinila noted that Water Supply and Sanitation projects will account for P1.098 Billion to finance the Maun Water and Sanitation project, Molepolole Sanitation projects and the Shakawe Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation.
With all the implementation bottlenecks troubling several projects in the country, Mzwinila had to satisfy the question of whether his Ministry demonstrated a dire need for the budget with reference to its execution of the budget for the financial year 2020/2021 and its delivery of strategic initiatives and projects?
Mzwinila’s pitch found favour with parliament and his ministry will get an aggregate budget of P3.198 Billion for the 2020/ 2021 Financial Year. Within this allocation, P2.188 Billion is for the Development Budget and P1.010 Billion will cover the Recurrent Budget.
The Minister revealed his strategic interventions for land management, water and sanitation services. Highlighting that efforts by Government to provide serviced residential land to citizens on the waiting list are being hampered by limited resources. He shared that his ministry needs P94 Billion to cover such costs which will directly link to water, sewage, roads, electricity, telecommunications and storm water drainage leading to the allocation of 4 587 plots on un-serviced land.
The minister projected that 22 952 un-serviced residential plots are planned to be allocated in the next financial year. However, there is a trend where allocated land remains fallow and undeveloped which raises misgivings that the requests could have been made on speculative plans.
Mzwinila noted that in the spirit of forging stronger International connections, the Ministry will in June 2021 sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Land matters between Namibia and Botswana with the aim of opening doors to the creation of Dry Ports in the country, facilitate international trade through Walvis Bay Sea Port.
Botswana is already challenged by scarcity of naturally occurring water resources due to the aridity of the country creating persistent water shortages. The type of infrastructure required to improve national water security is a true reflection of intensive investment needed in the water sector The Minister stressed.
“An emerging issue such as the COVID -19 pandemic poses serious challenges as the control of the virus requires reliable water supply. In an effort to mitigate the challenge, the Ministry has undertaken extensive bowsing throughout the country which included the provision of additional capacity for supplementary bowsing to areas with pervasive water shortages, plus an additional forty one (41) un-gazetted settlements.
Operational costs due to bowsing were at an average of P6 Million per month before the COVID-19 pandemic and increased to an unsustainable amount of the order of P13 Million per month, since the beginning of the State of Emergency in April 2020,” the minister shared.
Through the support of a World Bank Loan, the Ministry is implementing several initiatives under the Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency (BEWSE) project. Through BEWSE the Raw Water Pricing and Abstraction Strategy will assess the pricing of water in a manner that enables the provision of water to support new economic development, the strategy is planned to be completed in June 2021.
The Ministry has commenced the development of a long term National Water Security Strategy to improve resilience to climate change impacts. The strategy development entails prioritization of the proposed future mega water transfers such as the Chobe – Zambezi water transfer, the Atlantic Ocean water transfer to Botswana through Namibia and Lesotho – Botswana water transfer.
Following the signing of the tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa in November 2017 for the Lesotho –Botswana Water Transfer project, a 24 months contract for a combined prefeasibility and feasibility study for the development of a bankable Lesotho – Botswana Water Transfer project feasibility study was signed and is to be completed in 2022.
One of the Ministry’s famous major water supply projects such as the North South Carrier (NSC) 2.2 has experienced hiccups; having tenders for contract 1 (Masama to Mmamashia Pipeline) and Contract 2 (Mahalapye to Masama Pipeline) cancelled due to budgetary constraints.
The Botswana Climate Change policy draft of 2021 was tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Philda Kereng for consideration and adoption.
The policy attempts to indicate the country’s environmentally conscious development agenda as Substantial resources are being dedicated to research and policy efforts to mitigate climate change and support adaptation to the current and future impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.
Kereng indicated that Botswana is not immune to the impacts of climate change and it continues to delay the country’s national development efforts and that the key economic development sectors dependent on the climate system have recorded declines over the years due to the variability of the rainfall and other climatic conditions. Experts elsewhere have pointed out that lack of consideration of population dynamics hampers the development of stronger, more effective solutions to the challenges climate change poses – hopefully this policy if effectively implemented could partly answer this question.
Kereng underscored that sectors such as agriculture, water, bio diversity, health and tourism have suffered the most and the consequences of these have contributed significantly to the decline of livelihoods in Botswana especially in rural areas.
To respond to the changing climate, Botswana has embarked on sectoral reform such as climate smart agriculture, poverty alleviation initiatives, building resilience on the economic productive sectors, diversification of tourism for the improvement of livelihoods and income generation, local economic development and sustainable environment.
The efforts require a coordinated mechanism that will provide an enabling environment for an integrated approach to the formulation and implantation of development plans and socio economic related policies in Botswana that are responsive to the changing climatic conditions.
Minister Kereng explained the draft policy is characterized by an inclusive and integrated approach to social, economic development and governance modalities that would enable the country to achieve a sustainable development pathway. It provides opportunities for improved livelihoods through creation of green jobs, development and transfer of relevant technologies as well as creation and ease of access to both local and international markets. It also commits the government, private sector and non-state actors to adopt adaptation and mitigation measures that would facilitate sustainability and building of resilience of all sectors.
While Members of Parliament were trying to comprehend the policy, this publication got in touch with Green Botswana to solicit their views on the policy draft. Ms. Sela Motshwane, the Founder of the Trust highlighted that “the Climate Change policy was meant to be read in August 2019. It is long overdue, and we all need to see it and understand it in full.
I understand the current budget does not allow for a full implementation- but I could be wrong. More funds could have been allocated since. I think generally, Batswana need to understand fully what this means to our daily lives. I believe the true understanding is by policy drafters and the Ministry of Environment only.”
In the same vein, Green Botswana Trust took to the streets to provide a community solution to climate change on World Health Day (Wednesday). Green Botswana held a “Free Trees for Babies” at Extension 2 Clinic where fruit trees were gifted to parents, expectant mothers, 25 health workers, police officers and the prison officers who had accompanied prisoners to the clinic.
Motshwane said: “The decision to do the “Free Trees for Babies” by gifting fruit trees was to raise awareness to our imminent food security issue as stated by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr. Thabang Botshoma and encourage the general public to plant a tree so that we can reach our SGD Goal 13 : Climate Action. The trees gifted are to be named after the baby recipient”.
Green Botswana is calling for the urgent action from government and members of the public to create a culture of community accountability and collegiality in moving Botswana towards climate action and sustainability. To achieve the 2030 Paris Agreement Pledge, it will take all citizens and not just the government to reach goals.
Parliament resolved to adopt the Botswana Climate Change Policy, 2021.