BCP President, Demelang Saleshando and BDP Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s activists are using some government funded agencies’ services to lure opposition cadres into their fold, WeekendPost can reveal.
While these agencies were established to address the need for logical and all-inclusive support for the development of citizens’ small, medium and large scale enterprises through loans it seems they are being manipulated by some sections of the ruling party.
Agencies like CEDA, which are known to be autonomous offer loan funding for capital expenditure, stock or working capital in new and existing business ventures, and most revealing is that it is controlled by a Board of Directors appointed by the Botswana Government.
WeekendPost has in its possession an audio clip illustrating the ruling party’s recruitment drive. In the recorded clip, BDP activists insist to an unsuspecting opposition member to come up with a business idea so that they will be “easily” funded by organisations in the clutches of government.
“Comrade, what I emphasise to you is that; you come up with any business proposal, and you present it as an application. You will see.”
In the clandestine clip, the BDP activists, former Councillor for Monarch East Raoboy Mpuang and newly recruited BDP activist who was also a Botswana Congress Party (BCP) parliamentary candidate for Nata/Gweta Ditiro Majadibodu wanted to recruit Vaka Mooketsi an ex-contender of Botsalano ward under Botswana Congress Party (BCP) – where he narrowly lost – which also falls under the clutches of Francistown West.
“Listen to me, I will never forsake you comrade, if you have a business idea and in your defection (to join us), and say you are publicly and officially received by the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi here at your home ground- who in their right mind can reject or turn down your applications anywhere?” one of the two BDP cadres pointed out to Mooketsi.
“We have a good government that wants to take care of its citizens as long as you are willing to stand up for yourselves. Try exiting a non-supportive environment, go to a supportive environment,” the recording captured.
These guys are willing to assist anyhow possible, am telling the truth, they stated to the probable recruit. “Politics must work for us. So what you should think is what you can do. Even if it’s not coming from you. Just bring something. They say today’s politics is mostly focused on what you benefit out of it. You should reap something out of it.”
They said sometimes we don’t benefit from the system not as we are opposition activists but because the opposition leaders kill our thinking capabilities.
According to the duo, they convinced the BCP activist that one thing they should understand is that the deal is not all about starting a shop/business but also about the “contacts” or “network” that you should have in life. “It’s all about establishing contacts,” they emphasised while pointing out that it is only that this government do it carefully.
As per dictates of automatic succession Masisi will be the president in 2018, they asserted while highlighting that everyone now wants to be close to him because of that. He knows your ward (Botsalano) and as you know it was under the watchful of his late brother Tshelang Masisi(ex-MP for Francistown West) and therefore he can easily identify with it, they stressed in the shady recruitment initiative.
The potential recruit was also told that BDP has one of the best programmes and policies in the world while they added that; “that’s why you see a youth with no political alignment applying for a programme likeLivestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) and then he is approved right away.”
An example of a success story they said in the initiative that was about people like BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane who it was said are not superior per se to anyone but that they work hard.
“They don’t sit with their brains. They initiate.”
Ntuane who formed BDP splinter party, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) although later re-traced his steps to the BDP has also benefitted from loan through his lucrative Prime Time media company.
The BDP SG confirmed to this publication that indeed “on yes I was once granted half a million loan back in 2009 which was long paid off.”
According to Ntuane, his position is that BDP government empowerment policies never discriminate on the basis of partisanship affiliation.
“In order for these false and mischievous accusations against BDP to end I think the time has come to publish the names of all past and active politicians from all parties who benefitted from government policies.” He said the time has come so that once and for all this matter is put to rest.
He maintained that in any case because these programmes and policies are funded by tax payers’ money why should the names of beneficiaries, especially politicians be kept a secret. “That only leads to suspicions, slander and falsehoods.”
The former BMD Vice president said then that re-joining BDP was the most difficult decision in his life.
Meanwhile, in the recruitment clip Majadibodu also said he recalls that while at BCP he thought he will never join BDP unless he was “bewitched”. “I know it’s a difficult decision for you to take but believe me even with myself it was also arduous to come up to a conclusion to join BDP. But was worth it.”
The former BCP Nata/Gweta parliamentary hopeful said to the BCP member that their leader is the only one making thrives at their (members) expense and courtesy of BDP. “Look at BCP President Dumelang (Saleshado), he is multi-millionaire owing to the ruling BDP government programmes. On annual basis he gets government tenders worth more than 5 million. That is why he can afford to buy himself a BMW worth 1.3 million which is similar to the one chauffeuring ministers.”
He continued: that is why he lives in a 3 storey building of the standard of 5 star hotel in Phakalane. That is why Dumelang can trade with other countries. It’s because of supportive BDP policies.
But the very same guy why can’t he raise some entrepreneurs’ within his party (BCP) and empower them?
“Instead of Dumelang hiring a bus at 1.2 million touring the country alone in it, why not utilise that 1.2 million pula in up skilling say around 10 youths and show Batswana that he can take them out of poverty and that he really means business. So that we can have model young people that symbolises that it’s not all about ourselves.”
According to the recruiters, “so it’s all about Dumelang and him alone. These guys it’s all about themselves. Have you ever see Dumelang donate P 1000 to anyone to campaign? Or to donate to a certain ward to go to BCP congress?”
However Saleshando quashed the allegations in an interview with this publication stating that “I don’t have a BMW and don’t stay in a triple storey house” and “have never tendered for a single government tender.”
But in BDP, they highlighted that certain individuals can be given financial support to go on BDP activities but they have never been part of that as they feel just satisfied. “What I want is to think and have an idea.”
But note that, they told the prospective BDP member that its’ not an issue of you been given hard cash or anything but what you should do is you come up with any proposal and you present it.“BDP can’t give you money but at least can allocate you a tender somewhere in the country as an award for joining the party so that you can sustain yourself.”
You see it’s about your life, in the party you are affiliated to; do you have a better life? They asked rhetorically.
“To be honest as one of the people who have been recruited by the BDP, I have never received not even a single cent, but BDP like any organisation, when there is nothing you don’t want to do for yourself people will end up likening you to the likes of Molefabangwe.”
But if you are a go-getter and proactive and come with initiatives to CEDA you will be most entitled as compared to other citizens, they explained.“Its two-ways you can either join BDP or opposition which will spell the end of your political career. So you have to be careful. It will depend.”
In terms of political interference, he said no politicians can influence them to tilt the scales in favour of anyone to approve their loans – particularly for political interest. “Just for starters we do not ask applicants their political membership, religious or anything like. We just want their omang that’s it. Then we assess the project based on its merit.”
Meanwhile BDP recently recruited BCP affiliates Lotty Manyapedza, Virginia Masole, Thato Osupile, and himself Ditiro Majadibodu in the same style and manner, and lately law maker for Okavango constituency Bagalatia Aarone who was said to have also benefitted from CEDA in his “defection deal.”
Aarone has however said he was entitled to the loan like any other Motswana and it was accepted based on merit.
When reached for comment Mpuang said he was in a meeting while Majadibodu confirmed that BCP’s Vaka Mooketsi is indeed one of the people he has met this year in their recruitment drive.
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.
Special Economic Zone Authority’s (SEZA) P126 million Master Planning of Pandamatenga Special Economic Zones Business Case, Urban & Landscapes tender is in court after one of bidders, Moralo Design challenged its disqualification from the tender.
SEZA is transforming Pandamatenga into an Agropolis which will combine modern farming with top notch industrial, residential, commercial and recreational land use. The project is measured at 137, 007 ha which comprises of 84, 500 ha for commercial production, 12 400 ha for the subsistence production, 107 ha will be for Agro-processing while 40 000 ha will be for the Zambezi Integrated Agro-commercial Project (ZIACDP).
In their court papers, Moralo Designs, represented by Jones Moitshepi Firm, said they received a letter from SEZA on or around the 12th November 2020 notifying that their bid has been disqualified at the technical evaluation stage of the tender adjudication process.
In their response, Lonely Mogara who is Chief Executive Office of SEZA said Moralo Designs is not entitled to be heard by the court as the company never participated in the disputed tender hence SEZA knows the bidder as Moralo Design Consortium.
“Moralo Designs had failed to establish any right to be heard by the court. The fact that they had submitted a tender was not guarantee that they would be awarded the tender,” he said. “The reasons for the disqualification of Moralo Design Consortium’s bid were valid and justified because their bid was insufficient as it lacked vital information as required by the terms of reference.”
SEZA Chief said the requirements for the work plan and project programme were clearly stated in the Invitation To Tender (ITT). Moralo Design Consortium was not penalised for non-existent requirements. In disqualifying the bid by Moralo Designs Consortium, Mogara further indicated that SEZA considered that there was a requirement for a programme and work plan.
“The purported “project programme” that was submitted by Moralo Design Consortium failed to depict the activity durations, activity phasing and interrelations, milestones, delivery dates of reports and logical sequence of activities constituent with methodology and showing a clear understanding of the terms of reference,” said Mogara in responding affidavit.
He said the ITT required that there be provision of delivery dates within the programme hence Moralo Designs Consortium failed to consult with SEZA when they felt that such a requirement would be impossible to provide. He continued to say there was an avenue available when the tender was being prepared, but they failed to use it.
“Moralo Designs’ application for interim relief lacks merit and only seeks to delay SEZA from completing the evaluation and award of a tender that will serve the greater good of the nation,” said Mogara.
He went on to say Moralo Designs has no prospects of succeeding in its review application as the possibility of court granting the review are so remote in that the court does not possess the requisite technical knowhow on what constitutes an adequate work plan and what ought to be contained in it.
A bidder disqualified for failure to provide adequate information has no right to be protected by the court. Irreparable harm can only be suffered by one who has shown that there exists a right in so far as having stood the chance of being awarded the tender.
The financial benefit likely to be derived by Moralo Designs- which is highly unlikely- is outweighed by the nature of the project. In the unlikely event that the application for review is successful, they can claim for damages. The availability of such remedy weighs in favour of the interdict being refused. The refusal stands to benefit the nation more than the financial interest that Moralo Designs seeks to protect.
Moralo Designs failed to establish the urgency of their application. They waited for more than a month and half after the disqualification to approach the court on urgency. Meanwhile when delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the detailed design and construction of 12 steel grain silos — with an overall storage capacity of 60 000 metric tonnes — is underway at the Pandamatenga SEZ and the P126 million project will be completed by August 2021.