Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama is said to be the long time architecture of a reconciliation reached this week between President Lt. Gen. Ian Khama and the four suspended Judges of the High Court.
It is understood that Tshekedi was doing it out of interest for the legacy of his brother, President Khama. President Khama and the suspended judges being Justices Justice Key Dingake, Justice Modiri Letsididi, Justice Mercy Garekwe and Justice Ranier Busang reached an out of court settlement agreement after heated long negotiations bridled with pride, arrogance and principle.
Some of the conditions of the agreement include withdrawing the noxious letter they wrote to Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo in which they called him to resign citing that he is unfit for office, and they later said it was never the intention to undermine the authority and duly apologized. They also withdrew the petition that they have signed dated 17th August 2015 addressed to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) together with the letter of the 12th of August 2015, with serious allegations to the Chief Justice, which was copied to all other judges.
They also agreed to repay the outstanding housing allowances and other legal costs of the Government of Botswana, as taxed or agreed, in litigation under MAHGB-000783-15, all previous costs orders, as well as costs in the review application currently pending in the High Court and not to further proceed with it in future.
“In the interests of our country and the judiciary, I am desirous of resolving this matter that has been running for too long. To that extent I am happy to accept unequivocally all the conditions contained therein,” Justice Key Dingake is said to have written to Khama. In the settlement President Khama also said he shall lift their suspension from duty and recall the tribunal which he has set up. He added that The CJ Dibotelo will direct them (suspended four judges) when to report to work.
It is understood that Tshekedi, was later joined by the Minister of Defense, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi, both of who are said to have been instrumental in bringing Khama and the suspended Judges together. Kgathi is related to Key Dingake, a presumed leader of the suspended judges who was said to be the main target of the suspensions. Speaking to this publication on Thursday, Kgathi said he welcomes the move insisting that it’s for the good of the judiciary.
“It’s a very progressive move in the sense that for the judges to have done what they have done in the interest of the judiciary and smoked the peace pipe with the president and let bygones be bygones – is a sense of patriotism on their part,” Kgathi pointed out. The Defense, Justice and Security Minister maintained that after long 2 years, the settlement is a healthy situation for the judiciary and is commendable.
“I am impressed by the willingness of both President Khama and the suspended four to forgive and forget. Both are merciful and they are a true example of eldership,” Kgathi said. When asked if the police criminal investigations against the four judges will be dropped, he said it is obvious since the president has recalled the tribunal investigating them and re-instated them. Law Society on the controversial Khama, Judges agreement
For its part, Law Society of Botswana asserted that they believe that the four (4) Judges have, given the immense moral support they received, let down the legal fraternity, the Judiciary and the nation at large. “They have especially let down and compromised the three Judges who to date have refused to apologise for signing the Petition by the four (4) Judges.” The Society believes that the credibility of the Judiciary has no doubt suffered immensely and will take time and men and women of character, maturity and courage to heal.
“There will always be suspicion as to why there was this sudden change in approach by the Judges to apologise after they had withstood pressure to do so for about two (2) years. There will be a perception out there that the four (4) Judges are now beholden to the President and that their independence from the Executive is compromised. That is a natural consequence of their actions.”
It is however also important to note that, Law Society insisted that the whole matter raises some very critical Constitutional issues; can the President lawfully make a prima facie determination that the Judges are not fit and proper, establish a Tribunal to consider such a determination and on his own again revoke the decision to establish the Tribunal based solely on an apology to him and the Chief Justice.
“It emerged there from that the four (4) suspended Judges had apologised to His Excellency the President and the Chief Justice (CJ). It was reported that they further withdrew the letter containing their concerns on the leadership of the CJ and subsequent Petition to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). Whilst it may be possible that the Judges’ meeting with the President to discuss settlement was on invitation and not on the Judges’ own volition, what is however important is that there is truth in the Government’s statement that they have apologised,” Law Society pointed out.
The Society said they are surprised by this action since the Judges have repeatedly stated that they committed no wrong in bringing their concerns on the leadership of the CJ to the JSC. They continued to highlight that it cannot be an excuse that the apology was justified since the case was patently being manipulated against them and that the costs associated with this were heavy.
They maintained in their statement that therefore they are disappointed by the settlement agreement between Khama and the 4 suspended judges particularly the conditions thereof. “Law Society of Botswana has noted the events of the 28th March 2017 with disbelief, disappointment and a deep sense of foreboding,” they said.
They reminisced that although the Chairman of the Law Society in his address at the Ceremony of the Opening of the Legal Year encouraged all parties to the dispute relating to the four (4) suspended Judges to smoke the peace pipe and amicably resolve the matter he said they were prior excited but were disappointed by such details of the settlement.
He stated then that this was necessary for the good of the integrity and credibility of the Judiciary and ultimately for Botswana. He poignantly pointed out that if that were to happen, there would be no losers and the undeniable winner would be the Judiciary, litigants and Botswana.
“The Judges knew, or at best ought to have known, that the case was going to be long, fraught with pitfalls and one of attrition. Their plan therefore would have anticipated this.” According to the law Society, to even suggest that the public has some blame for the apology by not assisting with funding as it seems to be suggested is unacceptable. “How was the public to know that funds were required? They asked while also wondering why the public was not to think all was well given the moral public support given by the public, civil society, business and International Organisations.”
The announcement that settlement had been reached was initially received with excitement, the Society said while adding that for a moment thought that the parties had displayed the strength of character and maturity that it had recommended. But as the saying goes, they stated that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In no time the Government published a detailed account of the settlement process and the details of such settlement were disappointing to say the least.
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.
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.
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.