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Khama’s final days

By the time the curtain falls on 2017, President Lt Gen Ian Khama would have bid well to both his party, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the presidency. He will only have a few months to clear up his desk at the country’s highest office.
 

This year, Khama will address BDP’s last congress as its leader, at a meeting in which a battle for power is anticipated. Khama’s imminent departure has seen a number of key figures in the party lining themselves up for succession, threatening the future of the apparent heir to the throne Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi.


The succession plan is the brainchild of former President Ketumile Masire, who prior to his retirement led reforms which led to the amendment of the constitution. The new reforms diverted a potential perilous situation in the party in which BDP factional wars threatened the stability of the party and to some extend that of the country.


Festus Mogae and Khama ascended to the throne smoothly in 1998 and 2008 but the departure of the latter next year could lead to a different story. Unlike his predecessor, Khama has had three deputies, and there has been uncertainty regarding who he intends to leave the responsibility of the country and party to. Reports are rife that, although Khama has closely guarded his views; he is keen on opening up the succession. This has since attracted big fish such as Nonofo Molefhi, Tshekedi Khama and Jacob Nkate to challenge for the throne.


Khama’s biggest concern is to leave the BDP in a better position to prolong its stay in power beyond 2019 general elections, hence treading carefully with regards to the succession plan. Failure to manage the plan could spell doom for the party. With the opposition bloc uniting and BDP still trying to regain its claim following the dismal 2014 general elections, the party’s stay in power could be under serious threat for the first time since independence.


BDP’s revival mode is countered by a declining economy, marred by unprecedented rates of job losses and on other side, a hostile worker federation of unions, Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPPPUSU).


KHAMA’S 2017 CALENDAR


Khama’s busy schedule which commenced in August 2015 will continue this year and this time around the party leader is approaching the finishing line, hence all assignments should be delivered. Since August 2015, according to party Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane, the president has been engaged in a series of mobilisation activities across the country. The activities include meetings with the Central Committee, regional tours, branch visits and other team building functions. Khama has addressed over 50 meetings since then.


The party will in the next seven months convene crucial gathering as all party organs; the youth league, women’s wing and the party itself meet for their elective congresses. According to observers, these three events will be heavily monitored as key figures eyeing the presidency are trying to win the support of those contesting.


As early as February this year, the party youth wing, currently led by Andy Boatile will go for its elective congress. There are some youth within the party who have defiantly started calling for reforms within the party and such activists could shape the agenda of the party if they emerge victorious.


The party will also meet for the Women’s Wing elective congress in March. The women’s wing currently led by Minister of Health and Wellness Dorcus Makgato remains, together with Youth Wing; a very influential structure in the party affairs. The battle for succession has been also been linked with the women’s wing.


Prior to the party congress, the party will also converge for the annual National Council where the party delegates scrutinise government and party polices and make some recommendations. A stage will be set when the party meets for its regular elective congress held every two years. The congress has generated much interest owing to its significance and impact of its outcome on the future of the party. The most eyed position will be that of party chairmanship, which currently is occupied by Masisi. The position has traditionally been associated with the vice presidency since the days of Peter Mmusi.


This publication has gathered that the position of the party chairmanship will be used as a starting point for consolidation of power as the party prepares for likely first party presidential elections. Since Masire’s departure the incumbent vice president has automatically ascended to the presidency and never been challenged during their presidency. Both Khama and Mogae concluded their two terms unchallenged at party level.


However, the BDP constitution states that when the party is in power, the President of the party shall be elected by secret ballot at a National Congress of the party called by the Central Committee during every general election.Ntuane has informed this publication that at this point in time it is too early for the party to reveal those who are interested in contesting party positions.


“Its early days, things will reveal themselves by February or March. There might be new faces we never heard about who want to go into the Central Committee,” said Ntuane, who also declined to comment on whether he will be defending his position or not.  


KHAMA’S LEGACY AT STAKE


When President Mogae bypassed frontrunners for the second in command throne; David Magang and Ponatshego Kedikilwe, it was in the back of Professor Lawrence Schlemmer’s recommendation. The Cape Town based political consultant was engaged by the party after 1994 general elections to offer prognosis of the party in the lead up to the 1999 general elections.


The 1994 general election had dealt BDP a heavy blow and had its leaders’ egos substantially bruised. For the first time in years, the prospects of losing power to opposition party became real. Schlemmer’s recommendation will exalt Khama from the army to the country’s number two position. The report had recommended that BDP, which was riven with factions, bring someone with a strong personality and appeal within its fold to help unite the part. At that time the description duly fit Ian Khama.


Almost 20 years since his grand fashion arrival in politics, a lot of questions are hovering around as to whether a man who was brought in as messiah has succeeded. By the time he leaves office next year, BDP would have hit its lowest popular vote in history, and also had an offspring—something which was peculiar to the ruling party and ubiquitous within opposition parties since independence.


The BDP split resulting in the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) will remain a centre of debate in many years to come. BMD is part of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC), a coalition of opposition parties ready to battle power with BDP in 2019 in highly anticipated elections.


Khama will be looking at protecting his legacy and avoiding a situation where the party will lose power immediately after his leadership. The economy has stunted in the last few years and did not fully recover from the 2008 global economic crisis. Unemployment fuelled by job losses has added strain to Khama’s legacy and he has a very limited time to reverse the situation.   


DID KHAMA HAVE SUCCESSION PLAN?


For the entire duration of his presidency Khama has closely guarded his plans and rarely let them leak to the public. He decisions have always been surprises. When Khama ascended to the presidency in 2008, it was generally expected that he will appoint his former boss Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe as his deputy. This was fulfilled. Few metres down the line, it became apparent that Merafhe will serve only one term. But it remained secret as to who would replace the former foreign affairs minister.


In the meantime, Jacob Nkate, a well-known Khama ally was left out of parliament after losing out in the 2009 general elections, and instead Khama opted for bureaucrats in the Specially Elected Members of Parliament dispensation. Nkate, the leader of Nkate-Merafhe faction, which rooted for Khama, was later sent abroad after expressing his desire to serve as BDP chairman. Nkate had earlier served as Botswana Export Development Investment Agency (BEDIA) now Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC) Chief Executive Officer where he left under controversial circumstances.


Merafhe’s departure ahead of schedule in 2011 due to ill-health saw Khama diverting his attention to his former nemesis, Kedikilwe as his number two. Kedikilwe had already expressed that he will retire from politics at the end of his parliamentary term at the time of his appointment.   


Reports were rife that former Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse was in pole position for the second in command position. Kitso Mokaila also got the nod from observes as probably number two, given his relation with Khama. However, the 2013 BDP primary election and the subsequent general elections left destruction in its awake. Both Seretse and Mokaila were among the victims, effectively ruling them out of the contest for vice presidency as the per the constitution demands.


After the 2014 general elections, Khama, in a move which surprised many appointed Masisi as his deputy. Masisi is now a few months away from the presidential seat and will become the man who became president after serving the shortest time of all previous presidents before ascending to the throne. Masisi would have served 3 years and four months as vice president before assuming the throne.


However, Masisi’s fate lies at the upcoming party elective congress where it will be a make or break for those with presidential ambitions.

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Botswana’s development agenda in jeopardy

21st September 2020
Botswana’s-development-agenda-in-jeopardy--water-construction

Stanbic Bank Botswana Quarterly Economic Review indicates that Botswana will fail to meet some of its Vision 2036 targets, particularly unemployment reduction and reaching high-income status.

The report says this is mainly due to the slow economic growth that the country is currently experiencing. This Quarterly Economic Review focuses on the 2020 Budget Speech.

The first paper reviews the entire budget with its key observations being that this budget is prepared as prescribed by the Public Finance Management Act; the priorities it seeks to address are drawn from Vision 2036 and the eleventh

The 2020 budget Speech, which was the maiden speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, and the first after the 2019 general elections, was delivered to Parliament on the 4th of February 2020.

It has been well received by the labour unions, business community, and the public at large as well as international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It mainly derived its support from key facets including, emphasis on changing the business-as-usual approach to development; outlining the transformation agenda; fiscal reform that minimizes the negative impact on economic development and human welfare, competiveness and the decision to implement the 2019 negotiated and agreed public sector.

The budget’s progress review shows that economic growth was consistent with the NDP 11 projections, with growth of around 4 percent. At this growth rate, the country would neither ascend to a high-income status nor reduce unemployment towards the Vision 2036 target of a single digit.

Simple calculations of this review confirm that the economy will need to grow the Vision 2036’s target of 6 percent over the next 16 years for per capita income to increase from around USD 8,000.00 to above USD 12,000.00 in current prices.

Further, the population is anticipated to grow by only 2 percent per annum.

For this reason, the focal areas for the forthcoming FY’s budget include measures to increase economic growth towards an average of 6 percent per annum.

Economic diversification is reportedly progressing fairly well. The report says, the share of the non-mining private sector in value added has risen to 66 percent in 2018 from to 63 percent in 2015.

The sectoral pattern of growth showed that the performance of services sector (particularly transport & communications, trade, hotels & restaurants, and finance & business services) has been the silver lining and that of mining sector was subdued whilst the utility sector disappointed.

The drive towards the service sector of the economy, especially to low-productivity activities (tourism, public administration, wholesaling and retailing) does not bode well for the country’s development aspirations.

In the previous versions of this Quarterly Review, it was noted that there is need for the rethinking of economic diversification. Since the country’s domestic market is small, it is inevitable that economic diversification not only focus on broadening the product mix, but also the composition of exports and markets.

This understanding of economic diversification has not been embraced by this year’s budget. Consequently, Botswana’s exports are still overwhelmingly diamonds, which means that the rest of economic sectors are still highly dependent on foreign-exchange earnings from diamonds. Thus, “the transformation programme requires a review of the country’s entire ecosystem”.

The budget review of the economic context also depicts that an economy with positive medium-term prospects, with growth expected to recover to 4.4 percent in 2020 from the expected growth of 36 percent in 2019 largely due to faster growth of services sectors and, thereafter, to slow-down to 4 percent in 2021.

These projected growth rates are comparable to those of the IMF staff’s baseline scenario of 4.2 percent in 2020 and 4 percent in 2021. Thus, the business-as-usual scenario produces growth rates that are still too low to achieve Botswana’s development objectives and create enough jobs to absorb the new entrants into the labour market.

Trade tensions between the two major markets for diamond exports, viz., the United States of America and China, is one of the factors that are cited as contributing to, indeed, undermining not only the domestic growth, but also the fiscal position.

Another notable downside risk to both global and domestic growth is outbreak of the coronavirus in China around January 2020. This has been declared as a global health emergency. In an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, the Chinese authorities have ordered city lockdowns and extended holidays, of course, at the expense of near- term economic growth, according to the new Stanbic Bank Botswana report.

According to Nomura Holdings Inc., fewer migrant workers returned for work than in previous years and business activities have been slow to pick up. The havoc wreaked by the virus on the world’s second largest economy is likely to spill over to the global economy. In fact, it has resulted in a glut in crude oil and, thereby placed oil markets into a contango, i.e., a market structure where near-term prices trade at a discount to future contracts.

It also presents significant risks one of Botswana’s main drivers of economic growth, diversification and foreign exchange earnings. According to the Financial Times (February 13, 2020), Chinese tourists spent $130 billion overseas in 2018. Regardless of whether the growth materializes, the projected domestic growth rate would not transform the economy to a high-income one.

Progress towards reduction of unemployment, to a target of single digit, and poverty and achieving inclusive growth has also been relatively slow, the Stanbic Bank Botswana Review says.

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OP leases Orapa House

21st September 2020
Orapa House

Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration (MOPAGPA) has through the Office of the President (OP) proposed to avail Orapa House for use by private training institutions as well as research institutions involved in the area of technology development.

For a very long time the monumental building located in the heart of the city has been a white elephant, despite government purchasing it for nearly P80 million from De Beers in 2012.

However, government has now identified a productive use for the iconic building. “The overall vision is for the building to be transformed into a hub for digital technology research and development to be carried-out by institutions, such as; Limkokwing University, BIUST, BITRI and other relevant stakeholders.”

The decision was taken as government traverse a new path of transforming the economy from a mineral led economy to a knowledge based economy through the promotion of research and innovation. However, the facility will need major maintenance to be carried-out in order to meet the requirements of the proposed change in use.

“The work will include provision of laboratories, work stations, production areas and seminar rooms; audio visual centre, high speed internet connectivity, exhibition areas and offices,” reads the proposal note for the development.

These developments will be done through the refurbishment and maintenance of the main building, workshop, and ablution block, gate house, parking area, grounds, and access control and security service.

“There will be minimal modifications to the structure as it stands. The project is estimated to cost approximately P50, 000, 000,” says the report. In this regard, it is said, the initial scope of the OP facility will be modified to accommodate the envisaged digital technology research and development hub.

With funds needed to improve the building, OP has requested that; “the 2020/21 annual budget provision for Orapa House will need to be increased by P37,500,000 from P2,500,000 to P40,000,000 to kick start the maintenance works.” Funds will be sourced from the projects that have been delayed due to Covid-19 protocols during the 2020/21 financial year.

The building has been a thorny issue for government for years. Initially, OP was expected to move there but the move never materialised. At one point it was a question of whether the Office of the President and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development were planning to override a decision by Parliament which rejected the proposal to buy Orapa House under the belief that government may be buying its own property. The building was to be bought at a negotiated cost of P79 million.

Again in 2012, Government had wanted to buy Orapa House for a negotiated P79m but the Finance and Estimates Committee of Parliament had rejected the request because of the inconsistencies realised in the supporting documents of the proposed procurement. The valuation of the building was put at P74 million.

The Ministry of Lands and Housing had initially offered De Beers P73, 000,000 as the purchase price. However, De Beers countered with P85, 000,000. On negotiation and converging of the minds, the selling price was finally agreed at P79, 000,000.

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Sad state of Brigades: dumped and ignored!

21st September 2020
Brigades

Auditor General, Pulane Letebele, has expressed discontentment at the worrying and deteriorating state of brigades in the country.

In an audit inspection which was carried out at Tshwaragano Brigade in Gabane, a number of observations showed weaknesses and shortcomings in the conduct of the financial affairs of the institution.

According to Letebele’s report, former students of the brigade had been engaged to carry out maintenance works on the school premises, comprising of painting, tiling, plumbing and electrical works, which covered the period from July 2017 to June 2018.

Although the agreed maintenance period had elapsed, the works had not been completed because of unavailability of funds and this situation had persisted up till the time of inspection in November 2019.

Auditor General says arrangements should have been made in time for funds to be available to complete these relatively minor works even before the works commenced.

Various contractors had been engaged for clearing the bush and for the supply of concrete stones, pit and river sand and hiring equipment for digging the trench towards the construction of an auto mechanics workshop, the report said.

It stated that the cost of services and supplies provided totalled P117 949.80. However, despite the services and the supplies having been paid for, the construction works had not commenced for a long period afterwards, resulting in the trench filling back in.

The audit inquiries had not elicited satisfactory responses as both the institution and the Ministry had not accepted the responsibility for the project, although orders for the provision for the supplies had been made. For their part, the Ministry had stated that they had sub warranted funds for the purchase of porta cabins.

Letebele indicated that it is therefore confusing that a project which is critical to the functioning of an institution such as this one would commence without a well-defined plan.

Furthermore, the accounting and maintenance of records for the supplies items were not of the standard prescribed by the Supplies Regulations and Procedures in that the supplies ledger cards, the main accounting records for Government assets, were not properly maintained for the recording of receipts and issues.

This had resulted in significant discrepancies between physical and ledger balances, while in other instances the supplies items had not been recorded at all.

The report says 24 of the 91 new computers found in the computer laboratory at Kumakwane ABC campus were not recorded anywhere, as were the other computers in the storeroom which could not be counted due to the disorderly storage conditions.

The institution had entered into a contract agreement with a security company for the provision of security services at Tshwaragano Brigade, ABC and Horticulture campuses at Kumakwane for a 2-year period which ended in June 2018, WeekendPost learnt.

After the contract expired in June 2018, an extension was granted till the 30th September 2018. Since then, there has been no security service coverage for the institution to-date. According to Auditor General, in the face of prevailing crimes, it is of paramount importance that government properties be protected by provision of security services at all times.

At Tlokweng Brigade, it was noted that the kitchen staff were working under difficult conditions as the kitchen facilities and equipment, such as the cold room, tilting pot, food warmers and solar power for hot water were dysfunctional. The kitchen roof was leaking and men’s restrooms was not working. All these need to be brought to a reasonable and functional state of repair.

The kitchen staff should use a purpose-designed Rations Ledger for the recording of receipts and issues of foodstuffs to reflect the usage of those items. As far back as 2014 the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services had found that the house occupied by the bursar was uninhabitable on account of structural defects, the report said.

A site visit during the audit had established that the house was indeed unfit for occupation as there were cracks on the walls, power switches were not working and the roof was leaking. On a sadder note, there were a number of finished items of clothing, such as dresses, shirts, and jackets from students’ practical exercises from the Fashion Design Textiles Workshop.

Auditor General shared her take on this, saying: “I have not been able to ascertain the policy on the disposal of products from these practicals. A trace of 103 green acid-proof overalls which had been purchased in August 2018 had indicated that there was no record of these items having been recorded or issued, nor were they available in stock. I was not able to obtain any explanation for this situation.”

Kgatleng brigade was also audited and inspected by Auditor General who observed that the brigade has 26 institutional houses at Bokaa, both old campus and new campus. Some of these houses are very old and dilapidated, with two declared uninhabitable. The condition of the houses is a clear indication of lack of care and maintenance of these properties.

At the time of the audit, there was no contractor engaged for the provision of security guard services at the new campus, after expiry of the previous one in July 2019.  It is hoped that steps would be taken to safeguard the security of the premises and government properties against any acts of hooliganism.

In August 2019, there was a break-in at the electrical and at the plumbing maintenance workshops and a number of high value items, such as drilling machines, bolt cutters, spanners and cables, were stolen. The break-in and theft were reported to the police.

“However, at the time of writing this report I was not aware of the outcome of the police investigation, nor of any loss report submitted in terms of the Supplies Regulations and Procedures,” Letebele said.

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