The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng is keeping good to his promise of producing at least five millionaires by the end of his tenure as minister. He recently launched the ‘Millionaires’ Club’ in Gaborone.
This week the Minister confirmed that he recently launched the Club and the target still stands at 5 millionaires to be produced during his tenure as the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development. “I have officially launched the club and it consists of 15 members from different sectors. I am currently overwhelmed with hundreds of requests from other young people who want to be part of this club; unfortunately I can only mentor a few. These young people are, upon hitting the target, expected to mentor other young people to rise to their ranks,” said Olopeng.
Some names that appear in Minister Olopeng’s list include those from the arts, film, agriculture, information and technology, engineering and other sectors. Johnson Otlaadisa, a television production and arts enthusiast; Molefhi Nkwete, a clothing and label apparel businessman; Thabang Palai, who is into property development; Malebogo Marumoagae, a former beauty queen, now business lady is also in the mix; and so is Gadzanani Makopola, another businessman, are some of the young people the Minister is mentoring to become millionaires by value.
Explaining the objective of this club, Minister Olopeng said among other reasons, he intends to provide members of the Club with business and professional mentorship. Furthermore he intends to bring renowned local and foreign entrepreneurs to educate these young people and change their mindset to become successful entrepreneurs.
“They will be taught to see challenges as opportunities for them to succeed. For example, most Silicon Valley entrepreneurs started from their garages and our young people need to know how they can navigate around obstacles to run successful enterprises. They shouldn’t see physical space and lack of capital to operate their businesses as an obstacle,” opined Olopeng. The Minister said he is very passionate about the Millionaires Club because it has the potential to be a spring board for a number of great things such as employment creation, “which obviously pushes the economy in the right direction.”
In Parliament recently, Minister Olopeng observed that the majority of the Botswana population consists of young people and therefore if the government does not invest in them, it runs the risk of having an elderly population that is unable to support itself owing to missed opportunities. Olopeng said it is imperative that all efforts are made to tap into the energy and creativity of the young people and to further develop them into model citizens to enhance their competitiveness globally.
Still on the Millionaires Club, Olopeng said in addition to mentorship, he also wants members of the Club to have access to a network of local and foreign entrepreneurs, in order for them to expand their current network. “I believe that business can only grow to a great success if the network is right and if the entrepreneur has access to a successful mentor. Among other things, the club will provide members with investment opportunities, which will see them growing their portfolios. I believe that through sound investments, our young people will enlarge their portfolios and grow into millionaires and billionaires,” he said.
Olopeng explained his version of millionaires; he said he believes that millionaires are not determined by the amount of cash in their bank accounts or how much they can spend in shops and restaurants. He subscribes to the view point that Millionaires are determined by the value of their assets. “That’s why we are talking about investment portfolios and opportunities. I want members of this club to be financially disciplined and above all, to preserve their integrity.”
The Minister is worried by a nagging trend among young people, “One of the challenges facing young people is that after winning a P1 million, they rush to become flamboyant, and want to be seen driving expensive cars and living large. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, but I want to teach members of my club to know what to do with their money,” said Olopeng.
His Ministry already has programmes meant to empower young people, but over the years the Ministry has observed high defaulter rate with the Young Development Fund and other similar initiatives. In some instances young people are given money to start worthy causes only for them to diver the money to flashy lifestyles – which has always proved to be a temporary thing. With the Millionaires Club, Olopeng said he is determined to provide dedicated mentoring that will instill both business and social ethos to the group of 15 and ultimately raise the targeted five millionaires.
Olopeng vows to increase mentees
According to the Minister, in the near future, he wants to increase the number of the Millionaires Club members to 30 in order to provide this opportunity to others who will also be assisted up the ladder. He said the current ratio of members is more men than women – this increase should see more women coming into the club.
“Members of this club are very excited to be part of it, and they are looking forward to providing solutions to their challenges. They have expressed readiness to rise to occasion. As I said earlier, members are taught to look at challenges as opportunities, and not to see them as stumbling blocks,” he said.
Olopeng said he is very excited to work with this group of young people. He is of the view that they have positive characters, amazing energy and the right attitude to succeed and grow. He said he also determined to help them grow beyond their actual potential.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.