Members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi (House of Chiefs) have this week turned down attempts to surrender more of their powers by placing their house under the auspices of the Office of the President (OP).
The bid, through a sponsored motion, was to give more powers to OP and for dikgosi to report directly to President Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama. The motion brought to Ntlo ya Dikgosi debate floor, by Kgosi Galeakanye Modise of Tswapong Region, sought to restructure the department of Tribal Administration such that it reports to OP, not the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, as it is the current case. The motion essentially claims that by moving the Tribal Administration to operate under OP, the Ministry and to some an extent, Dikgosi’s voices, will be more effective, as they will be dealing directly with the country’s first citizen.
When presenting the motion before the house, Kgosi Modise explained that after thorough observation and consultation and research, they found out that the Tribal Administration does not perform its duties effectively under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
“Therefore we will be placing the department at the OP precisely because, as the president is running the country, it means he would connect well to a larger extent with other village leaders across the country and this will make his duty easier, quicker and more flexible,” Kgosi Modise contended.
“My belief is that,” he continued: “as the head of government, the president, although ministries represent and run his government, if you look at the Tribal Administration which is in every village around the country, it would be more effective if it can report directly to the president.”
In terms of re-structuring, he added that since the department is everywhere, his thinking is that since it is a huge and crucial department, it should be at the most powerful Ministry. “As it stands, the Tribal Admin is to a larger extent deficient of relevant skills and expertise that are needed to allow it to run the department smoothly and efficiently. If under OP like its counterparts in the judiciary, I believe it can match the latter,” he highlighted during his presentation.
On this restructuring exercise, Kgosi Modise further contended that the position of the Tribal Administration Secretary should be elevated in terms of responsibilities and wages while adding that this will attract qualified candidates to those prevailing portfolios. “Once they have that capacity, which it is clear they currently they lack, they can be allocated a good budget and in turn, the department will be efficient,” Kgosi Modise emphasized.
The other reason he advanced was that since the department of Tribal Administration also deals with the rule of law, it would be better placed at the OP “like other Justice departments at the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security.” It is worth noting however that, the Administration of Justice is an independent entity, which does not fall under OP. The Ministry of Defence, justice and Security also does not fall under OP. The Office of the President falls under Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration.
Nonetheless, the tribal leader’s point was that it is important to harmonize both customary law and common law. “They can look at them while closer to each other and listen to each other and have a common ground,” he debated. Kgosi Modise further added that, the current status quo, sometimes is a road block against progress as those at the Tribal Administration are seen as not at par in terms of qualifications, skills and expertise with regard to the law as compared to the Administration of Justice.
“We all know that the Administration of Justice is versed with closer assistance of the know-how expertise in terms of the law,” he observed. According to Modise, it will also be easier for OP to align the plans and roles of Ntlo ya Dikgosi with dikgosi whom are not sitting in Ntlo ya Dikgosi, and that in addition the implementation will be easier too.
“They (Tribal Administration) perform a lot of functions which includes judicial tasks, assists in governing the country as well as prioritizing the developments. So it appears that even though it is an ancient department, contemporary Botswana derive pleasure in it because there is a Kgosi and complementing staff,” he highlighted.
Kgosi Modise said when it comes to systems in place and running of the country, it is clear that department of Tribal Administration does not run efficiently as similar departments are placed at different ministries. While they both perform the judicial function, Administration of Justice is well equipped at the Ministry of Justice while Tribal Administration lacks a mere budget as it relies from the always inadequate budget of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
When dismissing the motion, Kgosi Tshipe Tshipe of Mahalapye region said in terms of the roles of a kgosi there is no relevance in them being transferred from the Local Governance ministry to OP. “Ministry of Local Government speaks more to dikgosi, their roles are mostly defined by Ministry of Local Governance and Rural Development,” he said.
Instead, he emphasized that Tribal Administration should be equally capacitated enough to match the standards of today. Specially Elected member, Kgosi Maruje III Thabo Masunga highlighted that bogosi on its own is Local Government. “Local government is the embodiment of the institution of Bogosi,” he stressed and added, “So I am wondering whether if they transfer bogosi to the OP, it is going to work. I also wonder if there is need to establish bogosi as a stand-alone ministry of bogosi and culture, or should we leave it to Local Government?”
Masunga said cabinet does not have a requisite authority and they don’t have the right and understanding of bogosi and “I believe an independent researcher can carry out an audit and this will bring a comprehensible audit that will inform government on what to do.” His contention is that, since Executive and parliament are political appointees, they cannot perform the function of research. Bogosi and politics, he said, have a conflicting interest as they are competing and continue to have conflicting, different needs at different times.
On his part Assistant Minister in the Office of the President Thato Kwerepe told the house that they too found that the department of Tribal Administration is properly placed in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. He said the government has over the years carried Organization and Methods (O&M) Studies in Ministries and Departments to determine the relevance of their mandates and grouping of their related functions.
“These exercises do sometimes result in re-location of such functions to ministries or departments where they can be performed efficiently and effectively.” The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) has carried out such exercises in Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the most recent being in 2010 which was approved by Upper panel in 2010.
According to the findings and analysis of the mandate and functions of the department of Tribal Administration, it was found to be facilitating the offices of dikgosi to promote development and security through direct engagement of their tribesman and to prosecute any matters in relation to customary laws in order to maintain law and order in their communities.
In addition to this, Tribal Administration was found to be responsible for community development and local governance through citizen engagement at the lowest level of decentralized governance structures and as such is appropriately linked with local authorities. The mandate of the Department of Tribal Administration is to ensure that all Tribal Administrative institutions across Botswana are made more effective and efficient.
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.”