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Boko threatens to jail Gov’t looters

Leader of Opposition (LOO) in Parliament and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president, Duma Gideon Boko, this week issued a stern warning to the government of the day for what he termed “preying” on tax payers’ money.

Boko promised to shake up the system when UDC takes over the reins of power from the more than half a century ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which enjoyed un-interrupted government since the country gained independence in 1966. A lawyer by profession, Boko asserted that implementing the rule of law will top the agenda for his government while adding that he would jail perpetrators who unlawfully drained government coffers and cannot account for the looting.

The UDC president made the scathing revelations when addressing a well-attended rally at Rasesa over the weekend to present a Botswana Congress Party (BCP) candidate, who by virtue of cooperation agreement, will represent UDC, Tshenolo Buisanyang. “You know, at the time when there is a change of government, that is, when we gain power, we are going to issue to them (government looters)a three months ultimatum. They will kneel before us for amnesty. They will arise and make pleas before us – without even having to follow them,” the non-conformist opposition leader said to an applause by party enthusiasts and adherents alike.

He cited that, “I give you only three months Mokgweetsi Masisi, I give you three months Guma Moyo, I give you three months Tshekedi Khama, every one of you, all who were part of government, we only give you three months only for you to make your plea.”
The LOO stressed that at that time; there should be sufficient evidence, in black and white presented to them by those in question.


He advised that then, they should be decent and honest enough to concede their wrongdoings and looting of government’s coffers. He said they should be frank enough to acknowledge that “yes I drained the tax payers’ money but I had wanted to return it back at a later time but then I forgot.”

He maintained that: “we will consign you three months only to make all these pleas. So when these three months elapses we will instigate a thorough investigation into how government money was consumed and where, who owns what and how, and if we can find out in our investigation that which you have not revealed during your plea and interrogation -there will be a big problem.”

He also highlighted that: “I would like to emphasize that I am not threatening anybody. But I am simply underlining and accentuating these things because this is tax payers’ money we are talking about here, and it is not owned by certain individuals governing the country but it belongs to the people – all the people.”

He later then went on to point out during the massive rally that the tax payers’ money and all government properties should be accounted for. “There should be accountability when we take over government,” he told the audience. “It should therefore not appear like we are laying some extortions to anyone or in some sense acting like we are being punitive to them because like I said we need to inform you and educate you about these things,” he said.

He then added that in case there are some who have been doing things accordingly in government, in terms of being economically prudent, the UDC government will retain them to continue playing that crucial role which they have executed diligently for the benefit of all Batswana. “And to those who are truthful, we will duly allocate them their property and take that which does not belong to them. And remember we will also pursue peace and reconciliation in the process.”

Boko made it abundantly clear that “but if you have done so and benefitted unduly in the system, we will put you at the Gaborone maximum prison so you reap what you sow.” The ruling party dissident insisted that: “you can go tell them, I still maintain that subsequent to the elapse of three months after taking over government, we will execute this task and UDC would be in no way being cruel to the victims.” He said those in power now will at the time have to exercise due diligence and be truthful during the process of reckoning and plead for all their wrongdoings under his government.

“I promise you that if those three months elapses without those concerned coming forth, they will be in trouble. And you should not take me for granted if I talk about issues that deals with the law,” the Harvard law institute graduate stated. He continued: “and this takes me to the much talked about issue concerning Electronic Voting Machines (EVM’s). I am suppressed to talk right now about the EVM’s because when I do I will do it right at the court of law.” “There are times when things take precedence, or another level, and when that time creeps in, we will do so at the court of law,” he concluded his message.

Rasesa hold by-election to vote new Councillor

Meanwhile, council candidate Buisanyang, who Boko was officially launching will face Dan Molokwere of the BDP in a two-horse race. The by-election was necessitated by the death of its area councillor, Seasebeng Monyake who died in a car accident late last year.
In the 2014 General Elections, the BDP won the ward by 717 people, against BCP’s 396 and the UDC ‘s 338. In this by-election, the BCP is cooperating with the UDC. The elections will be held today (Saturday).

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

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.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021

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.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

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.”

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