It will be an eventful year for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), apart from the much anticipated central committee elective congress slated for winter this year, the Youth Wing of the ruling party will in two weeks’ time elect a new National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC) in Tsabong.
Expected to be one of the highly contested youth elective congresses in the history of BDP youth politics, seven teams were initially assembled to battle it out for a place in the NYEC, however sources close to the BDP youth circles reveal that the teams have decreased to six. The teams, it is expected, will merge towards what is forecast to be a mouth watering contest, further reducing the number of contestants.
The Youth congress is expected to set the tone for the BDP 2017 calendar of events. Speaking to WeekendPost on Wednesday, Collin Mochoti confirmed to this publication that he has decided with his team to dismantle and seek NYEC positions under Thabo Autlwetse’s leadership, reducing the chairmanship contestants to six. The contestants for the chairmanship are Thabo King Autlwetse, Vuyo Notta, Foxx Segwai, Bruce Nkgakile, Ronald Kgathi and Simon Mavange.
“Yes I have taken the decision alongside a team of young democrats I initially assembled under my wing to merge with Thabo Autlwetse‘s team towards forming a formidable force to represent BDP youth,” he said. Mochoti ‘s compromise to settle for Committee Secretary General position under Autlwetse’s team leaves a 6 Man race at Tsabong to replace Andy Boatile who is said to be eyeing Shaw Kgathi’s Deputy Secretary General position come June/July this year.
A well know youth activist who attracts controversial critics at times told WeekendPost that he believes is the right man for the BDP NYEC Chairmanship. A business man in his own right, Nkgakile who announces on social media more often that his bank accounts seats at millions noted that he is not bending to any compromise that gives him a position less than that of Chairmanship.
“I am contesting for this position for 1 reason, to influence policy,” he said in an interview this publication. “I have exhausted all the levels of empowering young people, from business seminars, capacity building workshops, and so forth I am now taking this challenge to complete the job by running for a position that will enable me to influence national youth policy crafting,” said Nkgakile.
The commercial farmer and Former President Sir QKJ Masire’s Protégée argues that BDP needs revived party structures. “Right now it’s even difficult for us to campaign because there are no structures to engage at the ward and constituency levels, especially youth structures, those are some things that I intend to voice out and fix as the NYEC Chair,” he said.
Nkgakile who is the Mastermind behind Kgang-Tseleng Setswana Debate, Miss Africa amongst other impactful projects vowed to advocate for the return of Youth Parliament and engagement of youth in Job creation amongst other things. The former Silent Shout TV presenter rubs shoulders with national leaders and prides himself with doing business with South African Zulu Kingdom King Buthelezdi. Within BDP activism circles he enjoys backing from BDP diehard fans Selwana Kesebonye and legendary student politician and women empowerment advocate Thato Best Dineo.
Many believe it is his time after he suffered a marginal defeat at Masunga 2015 congress when Andy Boatile retained his chairmanship for a second term. Autlwetse confirmed to WeekendPost this week that he is confident of winning this time after roping in Collen Mochoti’s numbers who he claims is very a influential figure within BDP youth corridors. He noted he is more familiar with BDP culture and traditions than any other candidate.
“What separates me from others is that I rose through the BDP ranks from the grassroots cell structure through to regional and national structures. I understand the party and its traditions and any innovation I would implement would be without compromising the party's identity,” he said. The former NYEC information officer who also served as a secretary in the Gaborone Central region stipulates that BDP needs to have a clear grooming machinery and good leadership retention
“We need to groom and retain leaders and not continue developing leadership for the opposition. That requires a party man who has its ethos rooted in him,” he noted adding that the primary mandate of party structures is to further the party's political interests while also advising government within constitutional limits without playing a parallel government. “The risk of electing people without an understanding of the intricate relationship between party and government would be to create a conflict between the two. All democrats with an interest in NYEC Chairmanship are my competition; it takes a special bond between member and institution for one to volunteer themselves to serve, all who have thus far are worthy,” said Autlwetse.
Mavange is Secretary General of the outgoing National Youth Executive Committee. The Masunga born youngster is the oldest of the contestants, he portrays himself as the most experienced amongst the runners. Speaking to WeekendPost this week Mavange said amongst other things why young democrats must promote him to the committee chairmanship position is that as the General Secretary, he managed with his committee to convince party leadership to increase number of youth specially elected councillors from 23 to 43.
He added that the increase saw a number of BDP youngsters even elevating to Council Chairpersons. Mavange also argued that having successfully served as the deputy chairman of Botswana National Youth Council at some point leading the BDP youth won’t be a difficult job for him.
“I am the most experienced candidate and having served for the past two terms in the National Youth Executive Committee, and having influenced numerous positive changes it is ideal that young democrats elect me as their chairman,” he said. According to Mavange people who are elected into party structures must be put through workshops and oriented to be familiarized with party regulations, ethics and traditions.
“Currently we have a problem, people holding party leadership positions from ward level, constituency, regional and even national executive positions lack the capacity to carry out their mandates,” he said. He intends to put in place regular capacity building undertakings to empower young people and other leaders about party programs as well as government policies, should he win.
Notha is a former University of Botswana student Politician, currently serving as a specially elected councillor at Sowatown and a member of BDP national communications committee. As a very close ally to the corporate sector, he says citizen engagement will be his main focus as NYEC chair.
The philanthropist and social justice advocate who commands much respect amongst Serowe youth; particularly for his Vuyo Cup football and netball tournament says his leadership will be encored on engaging the people he serves. “We want to bring the corporate sector, spiritual and social leaders, and young people from the sports fraternity and entertainment industries to come onboard and revive the BDP vibe catering for all kinds of youngsters,” he said.
He further added that BDP as a national organization needs to appeal to all stakeholders of the economy and social development towards the empowerment of Batswana. “Trade unions, NGO’s and Non -State actors, business people, corporate Parastatals and the youth as the largest age group of our workforce need to take the front seat in crafting national policies and empowerment programs.” “Currently there are no platforms to engage youth and make them have a say in underwriting their own empowerment programs,” he observed.
A BDP foot soldier, Segwai is of the view that leadership is about representation and not positions. “I believe such a position is a position of representation not leadership, I do not become an aspirant because I want to, I become an aspirant because people and the youth are more than willing to work with me,” he remarked.
According to Segwai unemployment is a very critical matter, though he was economical with information about this campaign and candidature Segwai said the possibility of him merging with other teams cannot be thrown out. “I can’t disclose much on it now, I reassure You, I shall invite your publication to our team manifesto official launch soon, that is when I and my team will share much on it, it is not an individual affair, it requires brilliant minds to deal with, and I am certain my team has those minds,” he explained. “It is really not about me, but youth of the BDP in extension of Botswana. It is a necessity for us to protect the legacy of our forefathers, this nation and to do so BDP has to remain in power. I will share much on this one also at the lobby press conference.”
Bobirwa MP Shaw Kgathi’s son, Ronald has a vision for BDP youth and the Botswana youth at large. “My track record in the corporate sector and experience in business will complement my political energy to 1. Fundraise for the committee and promote accountability, integrity and delivery 2.Advocate for youth representation in leadership positions. 3. Revive youth committees across all the 14 regions 4. Fraternal relations and unlock business opportunities for youth 5. Recruitment and political education targeted at Senior & all tertiary institutions of higher learning,” said Kgathi
According to him, talks with other teams to reach a consensus towards forming a formidable National Youth Executive Committee are ongoing.” I cannot rule out the possibility of merging with other teams, we are still in talks and hopefully we will agree.”
Botswana’s efforts to accelerate key economic reforms got a boost following the approval of a $250 million loan by the World Bank today. The Programmatic Economic Resilience and Green Recovery Development Policy Loan (DPL) will support the implementation of Botswana’s Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan and is designed to strengthen COVID-19 pandemic relief while bolstering resilience to future shocks.
This DPL is also designed to support reforms to strengthen private sector development and promote green recovery. It is the first-ever World Bank budget support operation for Botswana and the first of two planned operations.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a great burden on the country’s economy, its people, and firms. With this operation, the World Bank will support the government’s reforms to ensure social spending reaches the poorest and assists Batswana who are most affected by the Covid-19,” says World Bank Country Director for Eswatini, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly.
“This operation will also support reforms to attract private sector investments, contribute to diversification of exports, and increase job opportunities towards a green economy”. The operation provides both financial and technical support for government reforms to implement a Single Social Registry and to improve targeting of social spending on the most vulnerable while strengthening systems for future shocks.
It will also help strengthen the business environment for increased SME-led job creation and economic diversification through improved access to finance for individuals and small and micro enterprises (SMEs). Furthermore, the program will help Botswana to build the foundations for sustainable, “green” growth by supporting reforms to increase production of renewable energy by independent power producers, promoting and regulating rooftop solar energy generation, and embedding climate change considerations in environmental assessments.
DPLs are used by the World Bank to support a country’s policy and institutional reform agenda to help accelerate inclusive growth and poverty reduction. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a real gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 7.9 percent in Botswana in 2020 – the largest in the country’s history.
This has also led to a depletion of existing fiscal buffers and has constrained revenue collection, reduced Government’s capacity and resources needed to accelerate the implementation of structural reforms and threatened to reverse progress in poverty reduction.
World Bank Group COVID-19 Response Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has committed over $125 billion to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic, the fastest and largest crisis response in its history.
The financing is helping more than 100 countries strengthen pandemic preparedness, protect the poor and jobs, and jump start a climate-friendly recovery. The Bank is also providing $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments.
University of Botswana Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, has lost support of the university staff, with four unions joining forces to demand his removal from office.
When he was appointed Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana in December 2017, by the then Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Alfred Madigele, Professor Norris was hailed as an angel sent from heaven.
Professor Norris succeeded Professor Thabo Fako, after the latter led the University during turbulent times — with the university experiencing financial challenges and dwindling enrolment numbers.
Four years down the line, Professor Norris’ presence at the University nauseates many. Academic staff together with manual workers want Norris shown the door as soon as yesterday.
University of Botswana Academic Senior Support Staff Union, (UBASSSU), University of Botswana Staff Union (UBSU) and University of Botswana Manual Workers Union, in a petition submitted to Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Douglas Letsholathebe, called for the dismissal of Norris. The unions said that under the leadership of the Professor, UB staff members suffered immeasurable pain, agony and frustration, and their welfare is entirely overlooked.
The unions petition Professor Norris on a number of issues: blurred roadmap, inflationary adjustments of salaries, security services, corporate governance, teaching and learning resources, deteriorating infrastructure, staff victimization as well as appointment of staff undemocratically.
In their entreaty, staff members say that Vice Chancellor has failed to provide a clear roadmap to guide a wide range of operations within the University. Prior to Norris’ arrival, they say, UB had developed a strategy using its own scholars, led by Prof Thapisa and Prof Moahi respectively.
“They executed the assignment efficiently with intricate insider knowledge of the institution and a global academic outlook. The result of the process was later subjected to external review by consultants, even though the process was later abandoned at huge cost to the University. The Vice Chancellor is three years into this post, but he has done nothing to show, and always blames staff or his predecessors for the problems at UB,” the unions said in their petition.
The petition signed by UBASSSU President, Motsomi Marobela, acting on behalf of Manual Workers Union President, Oneile Mpulubusi and Ghadzani Mhotsha (Staff Union President), argue that Norris relishes grand standing and cheap rhetoric to project a positive image of the University to outsiders while the institution faces monumental challenges.
“Even the so-called new strategy was imposed on the staff, since unions were never consulted. Staff in faculties were threatened and bullied into submission whenever they revealed flaws in the strategy. In short, this strategy lacks the critical ‘buy in’ from those charged with implementation, something which is crucial for any new strategy to succeed.”
Professor Norris, a renowned scholar, has been fingered in being reluctant to advance staff salaries, something which has been done four years ago. Unions claim that despite several shots to alter this status quo, efforts proved vain.
“The Vice Chancellor has dismally failed to bring about any meaningful action to ascertain that staff remunerations are adjusted to mitigate the effects of inflation, despite his attention being drawn to the erosion of the buying power of University staff. UB staff salaries have not been adjusted for a duration of four years, despite numerous attempts by the trade unions (UBASSSU, UBSU and Manual Workers Union) to appeal on behalf of the constituents for his intervention,” reads part of the petition.
University management are said to be relaxed when it comes to the security of the organization, petitioners claim. They stress that this has happened several times in recent years whereby management has allowed private security contracts, which augment the in-house UB security, to lapse before they can float a new tender.
The loan schemes that the University gets into on behalf of employees, is said to be another dare giving staff workers grief, perpetuated by Vice Chancellor Norris.
“It has happened several times that the contract between the financiers and the University lapses before anything is put in place for employees to continue getting financial assistance. Quite recently, it was communicated by a memo from Staff Welfare and Benefits Office that the loan scheme with FNB is coming to an end on the 30th April 2021 and this communication was made on the 29th, just a day before the end of such contract. This again shows lack of proactiveness on the part of management which is led by the VC,” said the petition.
The Vice Chancellor is said to be overreaching in UB administrative structures. Professor Norris, who chairs the Staff Appointment and Promotion Committee (SAPC), hosts illegal Pre-SAPC meetings, which are usually attended by Human Resources and Executive Management, and make decisions on who to appoint, promote or whose contract to renew before the substantive meeting of SAPC.
The Vice Chancellor, disgruntled petitioners say, uses SAPC to rubber stamp the executive decision – this amounts to corruption. “Three years in the institution he has virtually run the university alone. The core and critical Deputy Vice Chancellor posts of Academic Affairs; Finance and Administration; and Student Affairs, have not been filled. Instead he has appointed people on acting positions and he is shuffling them around as he pleases. Those he prefers have been acting for over two years, which is contrary to the Employment Act.”
Professor Norris is a researcher and lecturer, having served in different capacities in Botswana, the United States of America and South Africa.
Prior to joining UB, he was Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BUIST), a position he held since 2016. He is the sixth Vice Chancellor of UB.
Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has announced the return of the Youth Development Fund (YDF), after it was put on suspension by Government last year.
The fund however, has been slashed from P120 million to P104 million with the total number of projects expected to shrink. The YDF programme was temporarily suspended last year due to shortage of funds.
The programme introduced in 2009 by government, was a way of improving the lives of the youth as well as helping to fight unemployment.
When addressing the media, Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare said the ministry has resolved to start receiving applications for 2021/2022 Youth Development Fund from 09 June 2021 to 10 August 2021.
Rakgare said government was worried about the high numbers of unemployment hence the resolve to restart the YDF programme even in the midst of the pandemic.
He however revealed that due to budget challenges and the continued restrictive environment imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, there would be some modifications to the implementation of YDF.
“Due to budget challenges the allocation for the fund in the current financial year has been reduced from P120 million to P104 million. Constituencies will thus be allocated less than the usual P2 million, which means that the number of funded projects will be significantly reduced,” he said.
He further said priority for funding shall be for businesses with the potential to create a higher number of jobs and those that address key government priorities.
The sectors to be prioritized include; Manufacturing, Agriculture, Tourism, Technology, Digitization and Innovation. Moreover, the threshold for YDF financing remains at P100 000.00 for individuals and P450 000.00 for youth industries or co-operatives.
In addition to funding youth projects, the Minister said P14, 393,066.77 will be reserved for completion and implementation of Special Projects such as development of Land-banks, mentorship partnerships and trainings.
All changes to the YDF programme are to apply only for this year while a comprehensive review is undertaken. The target is to have the revised programme implemented in the next financial year.