The outcome of unity talks between the country’s major opposition parties; Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP), which has been awaiting final say from member party presidents, is expected to be announced next week (Monday 23rd) in Gaborone.
WeekendPost has it on good authority that the presidents of the opposition parties in talks, Duma Boko and Dumelang Saleshando are meeting this weekend at an undisclosed place to close the monument agreement. This follows the finalization of the talks by negotiators last year, December.
“Today (Saturday 21st) the party leaders, Boko and Saleshando will meet somewhere specifically to sign and close the deal. When they come back they will announce the decisions they took and final agreement of the negotiations,” an impeccable source closer the talks told this publication.
It is understood that following their meeting they will prepare for a press briefing scheduled for Monday next week to officially announce the outcomes of the talks and present the new party, UDC+. “The aim of the press conference would be to announce that there is an agreement between UDC and BCP, and what that agreement entails. The details of course will come in the course of time,” the source continued. “It is where critical questions will be answered,” he continued.
However, indications suggest that there has been an animosity inside the negotiation teams with BCP dissatisfied with the appointment of Saleshando as Secretary General of the new movement. The move saw the constitution stream at the talks plunge into a deadlock that derailed their agenda and was referred to the main negotiating team and passed to the leaders to “address.”
While the BCP negotiation team was settled with the matter, other party faithful’s on the ground spurn it and easily dismiss it as belittling Saleshando in a way. On the other hand Saleshando is said not to be happy with the arrangement although he is willing to compromise. “BCP negotiation team at the talks agreed on that, that’s why Saleshando also is fighting to reverse it – he has the power to reverse it as the final say lies with them.”
Although the matter is still being discussed this weekend, this publication has gathered that Boko, his advisors and other structures of the BCP want Saleshando put as a running mate to Boko which in essence is a Vice president position. The BCP is said to be fighting tooth and nail for the position which has also witnessed other names being dropped for the portfolio like that of Ndaba Gaolathe of Botswana Movement for Democracy, which is an affiliate of UDC. Observers believe Gaolathe has never abandoned the umbrella and may do well as a VP looking as his skills and expertise.
The issue is said to have divided the negotiating parties particularly those in the BCP and likewise in the UDC who still did not want to see the cooperation project take off. Some argue the parties may still do well on their individual capacities. It is understood that although the talks have been engulfed by road humps, the BCP, which alone shunned the second lap of the umbrella talks following the collapse of the first towards the 2014 General Elections did not want to be “the bad guy” again this time around.
It is believed that they (BCP) “have learned a lesson the hard way” as they performed miserably at the polls. The source further said to WeekendPost: “If push comes to shove, and knowing Batswana’s aspirations now (of a united opposition), and although the party wants Saleshando as VP and not SG, we do not believe it can make talks collapse.”
In fact he said whether he is “SG or not” the cooperation will be there – and that’s the bottom line. Furthermore, it was said that in case Saleshando does not become the SG, and do away with the position, there may be two Vice Presidents at party level. “We may have two VP’s with different roles and assignments at the party and in case we win government the president will have the prerogative to choose his only VP in the new government.”
In the UDC+ Motlatsi Molapisi remains the Chairman of the new formation of the opposition parties.The party has a new constitution, practices Social Democracy in outfit and colours are likely to remain as that of the current UDC. The name of BCP will fall out even at the constituencies that they contest. According to the reliable source closer to the development, Boko and Saleshando have had a great relationship during the negotiations.
“Boko has been very good and he has kept his promises that he has made,” he said adding that although a constituency is not a priority for Saleshando, Boko may move further to allocate a constituency for him in Gaborone – Gaborone South most likely. Saleshando lost his former constituency, Gaborone Central in the last General Elections to BMD’s Phenyo Butale who is likely to contest the constituency again based on incumbency as agreed at the talks.
Other issues which have been pending on the talks, touching on constituency allocation, saw Lephepe/Lentsweletau and Lerala/Maunatlala areas both being allocated to BMD of the UDC after independent candidates who came after Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) at the polls defected to the party (BMD). The conclusion of the talks will see ruling BDP coming head to head with one opposition block in the name of the Umbrella for Democratic Change plus (UDC+) in the impending 2019 General Elections.The ground-breaking deal emanating from the talks would be a first timer in the political landscape as well as the history of Botswana politics.
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.