As battle lines solidifies with hardline stances in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) elective congress in July this year, cabinet ministers have taken the lead in Nonofo Molefhi’s quest to become party chairman at the expense of Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Phillip Makgalemele, the deputy minister at the Ministry of Health and Wellness is the chairs all the proceedings of the Nonofo Molefhi campaign while deputy Ministry in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Biggie Butale is one of the coordinators of the campaigns. Because of the positions they have taken, for the first time in their political careers, they will have to go against President Khama openly within the BDP political spectacle.
After demonstrating their presence on the ground by their numbers at the National Council, the Molefhi camp launched Molefhi’s chairmanship bid just after the BDP National Council this past weekend in Mogoditshane. Tebelelo Seretse was introduced as the lead campaigner in the race to topple Masisi from chairmanship.
BDP insiders have described this as rare, for a president designate to be challenged by those who expect him to take over the reins in a not so distant future. Masisi will take over from President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama in April 2018 and he will choose and Vice President and appoint his cabinet. But the usual lining up for lucrative ministerial posts appears not to be in the agenda of a number of the executive who have decided to go with their hearts.
Makgalemele is Member of Parliament for Shoshong and has made it clear that the BDP needs a chairman who will focus solely on building the party and will have no extra duties. He believes Molefhi’s pledge to resign from cabinet should he win is an indication that he is serious about strengthening the BDP towards the 2019 general election.
On the other hand, the Shoshong legislator has more than motivation, because he has Vice Presidential ambitions and the fact that he was unceremoniously pushed out of the Office of the President in the last cabinet reshuffle by President Khama could be a further instigator of faith in Molefhi.
Biggie Butale is a spiritual leader, a pastor and a straight arrow politician. He has not made his support for Molefhi a secret, he went to his facebook account to declare: “How do you expect me to be neutral when my brother in the load in running for chairmanship.” Butale’s wording was an exact replica line used by President Khama at the BDP National Council when he declared that people cannot expect him to be neutral when his Vice President is running for chairmanship. In addition to supporting his brother, Butale is incensed by reports that the Masisi camp has planted a shadow in Simon Mavange to challenge him in the primary elections next year.
MASISI CAMPS GETS WAKE UP CALL
Following the BDP National Council at Travel Lodge this past weekend, some of Masisi camp members admitted that Molefhi’s apparent strength shocked them. “It is not going to be a walk in the park, he has supporters,” admitted a BDP senior figure who wants the Vice President retained as chairman.
To demonstrate that this senior figure’s concerns are shared across the camp, there was an impromptu meeting in Mogoditshane on Wednesday evening to recap the events of that were observed at the National Council. Molefhi’s supporters had T-shirts branded ‘Party e Nonofile’ and they were in song and dance with piercing messages towards the Masisi camp, furthermore, they had the numbers. Masisi camp also has branded T-Shirts and caps under the tagline ‘#GoMasisi’.
At some point, insiders point out, the party members were asked not to put on their branded T-Shirts at the conference, but they defied he order the following day, and they continued in song and dance. Even with a signature President Khama endorsement for his Vice President at the Council, the pro-Molefhi enthusiasts appear undeterred and they have already thrown the endorsement over the window.
The BDP constitution is very clear that every five years the party will elect a President of the party at a Special Congress, and if a constant is adopted, Masisi will be sitting president at the time of that congress. The Masisi camp is worried by what a loss at the chairmanship could do to Masisi’s strength as a Presidential candidate, “he must win by hook or crook,” admits one of his supporters.
While the party constitution vests all powers with the President, who also chairs central committee meetings, party insiders fear two centers of power should Masisi lose the chairmanship because Molefhi will not just be an ordinary chairman, he will be a powerful one. Admittedly, Masisi camp is aware that he could push for Presidency at the Special Congress. Traditionally, it has not happened that a sitting BDP president is challenged at this Special Congress, but apparently the Molefhi supporters are alive to the fact that constitution supersedes tradition, therefore Molefhi must be terminated at this conception stage.
DADA, JAGDISH FACEOFF COOKING
This publication has learnt that the Molefhi camp is likely to surprise Satar Dada and field Jagdish Shah against him for the position of treasurer of the party. Initially there were reports that the veteran businessman mogul will not be running because of old age, but his support for Masisi is said to have urged him to have one more run. But the Molefhi camp is contemplating ditching him and vouching for Shah, another money spinning businessman.
Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.
These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.
The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”
The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.
“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”
Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.
The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.
Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.
One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.
But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.
One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.
Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.
In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.
Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.
Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.
United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.
According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.
“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.
A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.
Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.
In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”
While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.
Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility. Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.
For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies. European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.
It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.
According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.
The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.
“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”
“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.” The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”