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Masisi’s surprise VP package

All factors remaining constant, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi is expected to ascend to the Presidency next year April, and like a natural occurrence, this has motivated ambition among some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) cabinet ministers who wish to become Vice Presidents next at the time.


A demonstration that a completely new dispensation is coming resonates in the Vice President wish list that has some surprising names, including but not limited to Slumber Tsogwane, Shaw Kgathi, Samson Guma Moyo, and Eric Molale. All these four individuals are serving or have served in Cabinet. As these names are suggested as potential candidates, some within the BDP are quick to dismiss it as a “joke” or “flattery”.  But by the look of things, there is credence in the reverberations.


Insiders point to the fact that the ongoing battle for the control of the ruling party is far bigger than the central committee positions. The current axis within the ruling party have nothing to do with the dismembered A Team and Barata Phathi factions, but rather personalized battles for survival as well as the general interest of saving the party beyond 2019. The bigger price could be the Presidency come 2019.


Masisi will definitely pick his Vice President from the current crop of Members of Parliament of his ruling party, at least for the period between April 1st and the 2019 general election. Insiders further indicate that the Masisi battalion is of view that the Vice Presidential pick should be a permanent appointment that can go beyond 2019 elections – they do not necessarily fancy a stop gap appointment for the period between April 2018 and 2019 elections – “why waste time?”, that is the question they are pushing.


This push however eliminates Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale who currently has no constituency. For a Vice President, one must be an elected Member of Parliament, Molale was Specially Elected by President Khama and his bid to get the public vote hit a snag when he was hammered by Barolong paramount chief, Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II.


Those close to Molale point out that he remains hopeful because he still harbours the interest to contest the Goodhope-Mabule constituency in 2019. Molale, a former permanent secretary to the president under former President Dr Festus Mogae and recently President Khama is not a popular figure within the ruling party. The fact that he struggled to against Lotlaamoreng in the bye-election sealed his fate in the party circles – all that remains is just his personal ambition.


Slumber Tsogwane’s motivation arises on a stop gap basis according to those close to the script. He is seen as a man who would not hurt a fly and would not want to cling to the position post 2019 election. However his short term ambition works against the agenda of the influential figures within the Masisi brigade who want a permanent appointment on the assumption that the BDP is winning the 2019 general election – “Why waste time?” is the question. But Tsogwane is said to be definitely on Masisi’s side and he is seen as a non-offensive figure who could be trusted to hold fort temporarily.


Shaw Khathi is the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, a very senior ministry under President Lt gen Dr Ian Khama. He is a member of the central committee, serving as the deputy secretary general and chairing one of the critical sub committees of the party – communications and international relations. Kgathi is a key member of the Khama cabinet and is in the good books of Vice President Masisi.

 

All these factors are said to have pushed his anxiety levels when it comes to the Vice Presidential race – the lobbying is on over drive. He fits both ways, at stop gap and permanent appointment because he has a constituency and he is confident he will get a return ticket from the Bobonong voters in 2019. Insiders say his fate will be decided by the BDP members at the July congress where he intends to defend his position of deputy secretary general.


Interesstingly Tati East Member of Parliament, Samson Guma Moyo is seen as the real contender for the Vice Presidency post. Moyo is one of the known backers of Masisi, he catapulted the current Vice President to chairmanship at the last congress, bankrolling most of the campaign.

 

Moyo, a former chairman of the party himself who resigned unceremoniously before his term expired, is also an ambitious and calculative politician. Some inside the BDP believe that he is helping Masisi as a way of creating a fertile ground for himself when it comes to the Vice Presidency. BDP people speculate that Moyo could be having presidential ambitions beyond Masisi. At some point the Tati East legislator wanted to sponsor a Private Member’s Bill on Direct Election of the President, a law that would potentially widen the net for Presidential aspirations.


MOLEFHI’S “SYMPATHISERS” LEFT OUT


There is no doubt that Selibe Phikwe East Member of Parliament, who is also Minister of Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Nonofo Molefhi has his own legion of supporters and well wishers within the party. He has expressed interest to challenge for the position of chairman of the BDP, a decision that pits him directly against Vice President Mokweetsi Masisi who intends to defend the chairmanship. Molefhi is seen or was seen as a potential Vice President pick under President Khama and futuristically under Masisi.

 

But insiders say his decision to challenge for chairmanship has scuttled his chances unless Masisi finds the strength that Khama drew out to appoint former Vice President Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe who had challenged him for chairmanship of the party before.
Tshekedi Khama is well known for his outspokenness and had expressed interest in standing for chairmanship and leadership of the BDP, but he has not acted, at least for now, on his ambitions yet. Because of his name and relation with the President, Tshekedi is seen as a potential leader within the party but political correctness has cast doubt on his ambitions. Indications are that both camps need his endorsement to score further points at the July congress. There is also no doubt that he remains a key figure in making the king or becoming one himself in the short to medium term.


Dorcas Makgato is expected to retain her position as chairperson of the BDP Women’s Wing at the weekend. Makgato, who is Member of Parliament for Sefhare-Ramokgonami and Minister of Health and Wellness has dug deep and solidified her political standing. Her name has always been pronounced along the Vice Presidential debate ever since she joined politics but her detractors have smeared her name and associated her with those who are against Vice President Masisi.

 

In an attempt to further push her down the abyss there was a lobby to motivate Francistown Mayoress, Sylviah Muzila to challenge her for the chairmanship of the BDP Youth Wing but she declined. Makgato is seen as opinionated and not afraid to say her mind on the state of the party and government. She is seen much a Molefhi sympathizer – her chance rests with the July congress.


Dr Venson-Moitoi recently returned from a bruising battle at the African Union Commission where she sought to become the Commission’s chairperson. Some within the BDP saw her as a potential Vice President, especially five years ago. But the assumption that she is not coming back to Parliament after the 2019 general election could rule her out of the ongoing lobby. As for the stop gap appointment – which is the only shot she has at Vice Presidency in the short time – Masisi’s supporters still ask the question, “why waste time?”. But she remains the best candidate for the period between April 2018 and 2019 general election date because she will be exiting the active political scene.


Phillip Makgalemele has ambitions for Vice Presidency and he could be lobbying somehow. He has served as junior Minister at the then Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administratio but his cold war with Molale saw him shipped to a different Ministry. The Shoshong Member of Parliament is not one to shy away from demonstrating his capability; he is expected to stake his claim albeit at a moderated dose.

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Motamma Horatius on politics and motherhood

13th January 2021
motamma

While it takes a lot to penetrate and thrive in the male dominated political space in Botswana, Block 3 Ward councillor Motamma Horatius, is one of the few females defying the odds.

Driven by passion, Horatius has always worn many hats and today she has become one of the few women who are thriving in the political space in Botswana. Prior to pursuing politics, she was an active participated in the creative space.

Horatius, a beauty queen, notably famous for her reign as Miss World Tourism Botswana represented Botswana in a television show famously known as Big Brother Africa. During her stay in the house, she got termed darling of the continent for an outstanding performance that promoted unity, humility and culture.

After serving for some time in public space, and making a name for herself as well as serving as a brand ambassador she decided to step in a career that will forever challenge her. This was after she had travelled the world and demonstrated her unique leadership skills and brilliance.

“I stopped and asked myself why am I not incorporating this brilliance back home. And wherever you go worldwide Botswana with all her faults is a beacon of hope in everything. And even successful countries came here to benchmark and implemented our policies and are flourishing such as Rwanda. So I decided to join active politics and go straight to the ruling party to add a youthful feel to an already existing force and help modernise it to serve better not from afar but from within,” she clarified.

“So my ample experience in civic leadership across countries around the world catapulted me to join active politics because I wondered, if I can do as much as an individual even across nations, how much can I do whilst in office, locally. And I chose to start from the ground up, in order to avoid leaving the locals behind.”

The stern and tenacious young leader, currently sit as the Chairperson of Finance Committee at Gaborone City Council, and also chairs Performance Monitoring Committee.

While a typical girl would dream of becoming either a nurse or choose a ‘girl’ orientated deemed career, she had a heart for politics from a very young age.  By the time she left the creative space, she had already made a name for herself, that she needed no introduction.

“I had to acknowledge first that I am a woman, and being a woman means you have to work 200 percent more than your male counterparts. So it took sleeplessness nights, and a massive amount of working smart to win legitimately,” she said.

She acknowledges that she faced a lot of challenges during the 2019 elections which she had to overcome through the assistance of her loved ones and family.

“Politics is expensive but I managed by God’s grace, family, friends, acquaintances and good Samaritans but my mind helped. I am a very good planner when it comes to execution,” she said.

“Another hurdle is, being a young woman, I had conceived during the time of primary elections; so campaigning whilst expectant, managing your emotions through betrayals, insults, stress, house-to-house then giving birth and having to hit the ground in less than two weeks having given birth via C-section, was a hurdle I overcame by God’s mercy and I am thankful to my family for helping me with the kids because politics means a lot of time away from home.”

“Another hurdle was to portray an all rounded culturally grounded Motswana woman soft but yet stern, respectful but can articulate issues well. Because even though we are civilized our society still upholds unwritten yet practiced values of what a woman is and what a man is, and if you defy societal expectations, it judges you harshly. But thankfully I remained focused on who I was and didn’t try alternate anything When I lost some of the original members of my campaign team. The pain was deep. But I wiped my tears. Soldiered on, and God increased twice the initial number.”

At some point she had to face demeaning words from other male contestants, but the best to do at the time was to shun negativity and stay focused. Male intimidation never tugged her down.

“My experience with 2019 elections was rather inclined to learning as it was my first time running for office as a politician, so I wanted to see if really hard work has results because I always hear stories of how people are bought,” she said.

“So since I was not buying anyone, I was on a learning curve to test my hard work style of delivery against what is believed out there. So it was exciting and again I say it was a learning curve as most NGOs fighting to increase women participation in politics were continuously training us.’

Despite everything she feels women political participation in Botswana is still low. She has pleaded with the media to cover them more often as she believes maybe it will help more women to run for office.

Botswana has few women in parliament, giving men dominance in policy decisions. In a 63-seat parliament, Botswana has only seven female MPs, four of them being specially elected lawmakers.

According to the 2019 edition of the biennial Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Map of Women in Politics. Among the top African countries with a high percentage of women in ministerial positions are Rwanda (51.9%), South Africa (48.6%), Ethiopia (47.6%), Seychelles (45.5%), Uganda (36.7%) and Mali (34.4%).

The lowest percentage in Africa was in Morocco (5.6%), which has only one female minister in a cabinet of 18.

Other countries with fewer than 10% women ministers include Nigeria (8%), Mauritius (8.7%) and Sudan (9.5%).Other African countries with high percentages of women MPs include Namibia (46.2%), South Africa (42.7%) and Senegal (41.8%), according to the report.

Though a slight increase, Botswana is still lagging behind when it comes to women political participation.

According to a report made by IEC for the 2019 elections, there is 11.1% women representation in parliament. There has been a 1.6% slight increase from the 2019 election compared to the 2014 elections.

According to United Nations, there are two main obstacles that prevent women from participating fully in political life.

These are structural barriers, whereby discriminatory laws and institutions still limit women’s ability to run for office, and capacity gaps, which occur when women are less likely than men to have the education, contacts and resources needed to become effective leaders.

As it stands though, Botswana has continued to recognize gender equality as central to socio-economic, political and cultural development through its National Vision 2036.

Following the adoption of the National Policy on Gender and Development in 2015, the National Gender Commission was established in September 2016, to monitor implementation of the policy.

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Gov’t imposes austerity as financial year closes

11th January 2021
President Masisi

Government ministries and departments have moved to cut expenditure in the last quarter of financial year in order to survive the economic hardship occasioned by the covid-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak, Government and the private sector have been hard hit financially due to limited economic activity brought about by government response to fighting the pandemic.

In an urgent savingram by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Molefi Keaja addressed to all council secretaries and town clerks, the government informs that it is facing unprecedented budgetary challenges for Financial Year 2020/2021.

“This has necessitated measures to be put in place to conserve cash and ensure that government is able to honour its financial obligations in the remaining (3) months of the financial year,” said the savingram dated 24 December 2020.

The Government has cut all travel by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including State owned entities (SOEs) and Local Authorities until the next financial year in April 2021.
It has also taken a decision that all meetings, interviews, seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, annual ceremonies and hospitality events should be conducted virtually, which save on the cost of securing venues, conference facilities and meals/refreshments.

“No replenishment of refreshments for the Executive Cadre (E2 salary scale and above) until the end of the financial year,” Keaja directed. Last year government also resolved that due to the financial effects of Covid-19 the government will no longer recruit for any jobs during the 2020/2021 financial year.

The Cabinet directed that the 2020/2021 provision for vacancies be withdrawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies recurrent budgets to cater for supplementary estimates. According to the saving gram then by the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM) said the country faces fiscal challenges which have been accentuated by the emergence and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amongst key ministries and departments affected were the Botswana Defence Force, National Strategy Office, Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Commissioner of Police, Commissioner of Prisons, Clerk of National Assembly and the Directorate on Corruption & Economic Crime (DCEC).

It further deliberated that all various institutions that had begun recruitment for existing vacant positions be frozen for the remaining period of the 2020/2021 financial year. “Since funds for the vacancies will only be recruited in the next financial year 2020/20121, Ministries, Department and Agencies are advised to discontinue recruitment into such vacancies until 1st April 2021. Those who are already at an advanced stage of recruitment process are advised to withhold appointments until further notice.”

The Director of Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM), Goitseone Mosalakatane, told the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in September that despite the high unemployment rate, they cannot hire for the posts because part of the funds have been withdrawn to fight the Coronavirus.

With just a few days into the New Year, Covid-19 seems to be taking its toll and its effects will be felt vastly in the long run. Countries worldwide, including Botswana are injecting in millions of money in the fight against the deadly virus therefore placing immense uncertainty on country’s economy.

When delivering his speech at last year’s State of Nation Address President Mokgweetsi Masisi said during 2020, the domestic economy was expected to contract by 8.9 percent indicating that this is attributed to an expected sharp decline in major sectors such as mining, (minus 24.5 percent); trade, hotels and restaurants (minus 27.4 percent); construction (minus 6 percent); manufacturing (minus 3.9 percent); and transport and communications (minus 2.5 percent).

However, he assured that the economy is expected to rebound during 2021, with overall growth projected at 7.7 percent. The anticipated recovery will be driven by a rebound in growth of some major sectors such as mining (14.4 percent), trade, hotels and restaurants (18.8 percent), and transport and communications (4.2 percent).

Furthermore, Masisi pointed out that the recovery will also be supported by the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan currently being implemented by Government. “It is critical to note that these projections are dependent on, among others, the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions.

These containment measures have the effect of reducing spending by firms and households and causing supply-chain disruptions. Beyond this, the recovery phase will be influenced by confidence effects on households and businesses; sectoral transformation and changes in work patterns; as well as prospects for the recovery of global financial markets and commodity prices.”

Emphasising this, he explained that despite the challenges of COVID-19 there still remains the delicate balance of opening the economy whilst containing the disease burden. “Inflation according to the latest data from Statistics Botswana, inflation fell significantly from 2.2 percent in September 2019 to 1.8 percent in September 2020, remaining below the lower bound of the Bank of Botswana’s medium-term objective range of 3 to 6 percent,” he said.

The significant decline in inflation mainly reflects the downward adjustment in fuel prices in June 2020. However, inflation may rise above the current forecasts if the international commodity prices increase beyond current projections and in the event of upward price pressures occasioned by supply constraints due to travel restrictions and lockdowns.

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BDP readies for Congress

11th January 2021
BDP congress

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) last year had to cancel its elective congress due to the strict measures that had to be put in place due to Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.

Two other party events Women’s Wing Congress including the much anticipated victorious election celebration were also postponed due to the pandemic as gatherings were cancelled indefinitely.
However the BDP is adamant that the party will be able to hold its National Congress and all other events that had been frozen this year.

Speaking to this publication chairman of BDP Communication & International Relations Sub-Committee Kagelelo Kentse said that the party was readying itself for the congress with the main objective being to review resolutions that were taken at their 38th National Congress in Mochudi in 2019. Emphasising this, Kentse said it was commendable that most of the resolutions taken in 2019 have by far been fulfilled.

Moreover, he said it would mean a lot for the party to be able to meet at the congress, this he said would give them the opportunity to introspect and reflect with regards to their manifesto. In 2019 the BDP made about eleven resolutions of which five of these were resolved and gazetted. The abridged resolutions were that the amendment of the law to allow agricultural land owners to use up to 50 percent of their land for non-core purposes, to amend the law to cancel transfer duty on property transferred between the spouses.

President Masisi also passed a law to allow married couples to be independently allocated land and increase threshold for non-payment of transfer on property acquired from P250k to P750k. On the resolution in the tourism sector, Kentse said efforts are very advanced to have local play a part. He said there is ongoing work with the Ministry of Lands on concessions that will be allocated to citizens.

According to the BDP communications chair the Ministry of Tourism has availed more opportunities in dams for tourism thus far, having already issued expression of interest for Letsibogo, Dikgatlhong, and Gaborone dams. Citizens are said to have applied for tenders which are currently under evaluation. There are about 45 campsites set aside for citizens in game reserves and forest reserves for tourism.

The resolution on the declaration of assets and liabilities law which was passed and amended this year, was supported by all legislators including those from opposition. Emphasising this he explained that contentions were on issues to do with valuations, and leaders have started declaring.

With the Congress comprising of the elective congress, the BDP is yet to embark on it an objective Kentse said is on their to do list this year even though the calendar of events has not yet been made.
The elective congress has aroused interest, especially the Secretary General position which has attracted a number of participants of which observers believe will accord the incumbent, Mpho Balopi, the current secretary general, the opportunity to buy time if at all he will seek re-election in the position.

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