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Boko unveils new UDC

The president of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Duma Gideon Boko has yesterday (Friday) unveiled the new party (UDC) which include cooperation with the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).  
 

According to Boko, who delivered a joint statement of all the parties, the new party, although now in full collaboration with the BCP, will retain the name UDC and will contest all the incoming elections as “one symbol.” “The name of the entity shall remain the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). There shall be a unitary brand. All the four parties will be contesting the elections under one symbol,” Boko told a press conference this week which was swamped by the masses of the opposition parties’ followers.


In terms of the party colours, Boko revealed that the party will be distinct from the existing colours and that they will now be “royal blue.” Boko also stated that the UDC will retain the Social Democratic Programme. He explained that “there was an agreement on policies. The contracting parties will collectively continue to pursue a Social Democratic Programme. The policy framework will be shared with all key national stakeholders to ensure that our programme is truly aligned with the aspirations and wishes of our people.”


He said he as the president shall head the National Executive Committee (NEC) while flanked by two Vice Presidents; one from Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and the other from Botswana Congress Party (BCP). Both of the presidents (from BCP and BMD) are supposed to be elected through their respective conferences later this year. Chances are that BMD’s Ndaba Gaolathe and BCP’s Dumelang Saleshando will be retained as presidents of their parties and that would automatically put them to be UDC’s VPs.


“The NEC shall be headed by the President who will have two VPs. The presidency has been given to the BNF while the BMD and the BCP shall occupy the two VP positions. What is however left are specific functions to accommodate layers which will be achieved by way of allocation of functions,” the president of the new UDC further pointed out.


He said the BPP has been given the chairpersonship while the Treasurer has been given to the BCP. The BPP will on the other hand get the Administrative Secretary while BNF gets away with the positions of Labour Secretary and Communications Head. The BMD has been allocated the portfolio of Youth Affairs Secretary and National Coordinator. In addition, the Legal Affairs Secretary and Gender Affairs are clinched by BPP and BCP respectively.


It is understood that each party will also be extended to nominate an additional one person to serve in the NEC. Therefore NEC will have a total of 16 members, with each party represented by 4 members. In terms of the constituency allocations, the UDC president revealed that inside the UDC, the BNF walks away with 22 constituencies, BMD allocated 14, BCP got 17 while the BPP only given 4 constituencies.


“The process of constituency allocation has been completed. The parties have agreed that there should be an effort made to ensure that the candidate who stands on the UDC enhances the prospects of the organization winning in the General Elections,” the UDC leader pointed out. He added that a provision has been made for bi-laterals between the parties (BPP, BCP, BMD, BNF) to allow for trade-offs where necessary.


The six specially elected Members of Parliament positions, he continued, shall be allocated to, two for BPP, one each for BMD, BNF, BCP while the sixth shall be allocated to that of the latter three substantive constituent group members which shall have won the lowest number of constituencies in the elections. Boko pointed out that allocation of wards will be undertaken by the constituencies.


“Guidelines on how to go about this will be given to them and the whole process is expected to be completed by end of March 2017. At Council level, all the parties constituting the UDC and the BCP shall have equal members of specially elected members.”
With regard to the individual membership, the group membership enjoyed by the four parties, individual membership will also be allowed.


“The members who fall under this category will enjoy limited rights and in order to enjoy full rights like other members they will have to join one of the contracting parties.” According to Boko, the negotiations has not been an easy road. There were huge challenges in which he said is normal to any form of negotiation.


He stated: “sure proof that there have been real negotiations is when no negotiator walks out of the negotiation table feeling triumphant because negotiations are by nature not a zero sum exercise. You win some and lose some. What is however important and make us look back on this journey with a sense of pride and joy is that today marks an important milestone as we announce our coming together to form one body.”


Boko further added that the successful conclusion of this process would not have been possible without the unwavering commitment of the leadership and the entire membership of the four parties. This, he continued to say “it was a response to a plea by people for the opposition to stop splitting votes and work together.”


He highlighted that the most prominent instance of vote splitting was in the 2014 General Elections where the opposition joint popular vote sat at 53.55% while the ruling party attained only 46.45%. “Our experiences from the previously failed attempts to unite as the opposition and the continued misrule by the BDP fortified our resolve to ensure that we delivered this project,” the UDC leader said while adding that the genuine commitment of the negotiating parties is bound to deliver a fair, durable and sustainable deal.


POINTERS
UDC/BCP partnership to contest under UDC
BCP allocated 17 constituencies, BNF 22, BMD 14, BPP 4
All the parties contest the elections under one symbol
There will be 2 VP’s – from BMD and BCP parties
The BPP has been allocated the UDC chairpersonship

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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
morupisi

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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