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.
Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.
Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.
She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”
Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.
On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.
“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.
One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.
The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”
The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.
Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.
Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.
Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.
This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.
He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.
Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”
He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.
Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.
“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”
In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.
He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.” Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.
Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.
He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”
Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.
“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.
“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said. Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.
Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.
The Global Gender Gap Index, a report published by the World Economic Forum annually, has indicated that Botswana is among countries that fare badly when it comes to representation of women in legislative bodies.
The latest Global Gender Gap Index, published last week, benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.
This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarked 146 countries. Of these, a subset of 102 countries have been represented in every edition of the index since 2006, further providing a large constant sample for time series analysis.
Botswana ranks number 66 overall (out of 146 countries), with good rankings in most of the pillars. Botswana ranks 1st in Health and Survival, 7th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity, 22nd in Educational Attainment, and 129th in Political Empowerment.
The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). The cross-country comparisons aim to support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.
The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour-force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative indicator gathered through the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar work).
Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).
The Educational Attainment sub-index captures the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education through the enrolment ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education. A longer-term view of the country’s ability to educate women and men in equal numbers is captured through the ratio of women’s literacy rate to men’s literacy rate.
Health and Survival sub-index provides an overview of the differences between women’s and men’s health using two indicators. The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women”, prevalent in countries with a strong son preference. Second, the index uses the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy.
This measure provides an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by accounting for the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other factors. Political Empowerment sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions. In addition, the reported included the ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the last 50 years.
In the last general elections, only three women won elections, compared to 54 males. The three women are; Nnaniki Makwinja (Lentsweletau-Mmopane), Talita Monnakgotla (Kgalagadi North), and Anna Mokgethi (Gaborone Bonnington North). Four women were elected through Specially Elected dispensation; Peggy Serame, Dr Unity Dow, Phildah Kereng and Beauty Manake. All female MPs — save Dow, who resigned — are members of the executive.
Overall, Botswana has 63 seats, all 57 elected by the electorates, and six elected by parliament. Early this year, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general and Gaborone North MP, Mpho Balopi, successfully moved a motion in parliament calling for increment of elective seats from 57 to 61. Balopi contented that population growth demands the country respond by increasing the number of MPs.
In Africa, Botswana play second fiddle to countries like Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, and Zimbabwe who have better representation of women, with Rwanda being the only country with more than 50 percent of women in parliament.
The low number of women in parliament is attributed to Botswana’s current, electoral system, First-Past-the-Post. During the 9th parliament, then MP for Mahalapye East tabled a motion in parliament in which she sort to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs in parliament to augment female representation in the National Assembly.
The motion was opposed famously, by then Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, who said the citizens were not in favour of such a move since it dilute democracy, instead suggesting the Botswana should switch to Proportional-Representation-System. Botswana is currently undergoing Constitutional Review process, with the commission, appointed in December, expected to deliver the report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by September this year.