Member of Parliament (MP) for Palapye constituency, Moiseraele Goya who is also Assistant Minister of Basic Education has implored Minister of Defence, Justice and Security (MDJS) to rather pilot the billion pula Safer City program in his boom town area of Palapye rather than in Gaborone as planned.
Despite Palapye being a benefactor to multi-millions of Pula in new development funds in the new National Development Plan 11, Goya wants more for his constituency. He complained about all developments starting in the capital, stating: “I want to talk about the Safer City program which will start in Gaborone. I wonder why everything has to start in Gaborone. Why can’t it be piloted in Palapye? This is where I disagree with Mr Kgathi because Safer City has to start in Palapye.”
In his response to Minister Shaw Kgathi’s NDP 11 report tabled in parliament this week, Goya contended that, it would be much easier and faster to monitor the efficacy of the project in a smaller town like Palapye than a bigger city: “you should not be misled by the word ‘city’; this can be piloted in a village like Palapye, in a small environment, not big like Gaborone,” and further probed: “why can’t it start in Palapye so that we see if it works well before it comes to a bigger town like Gaborone? That is the advice I wanted to tender.” Goya stated.
Safer City program is a crime fighting concept that will see Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) paraphernalia mounted on the city streets. The CCTV devices will also be accompanied by rapid response teams of police officers. NDP 11 is a six-year development spending spree period starting from 2017 to 2023. In the half-dozen period, Palapye will share P18 million of funds with Ghanzi for the construction of Legal Aid Service centers. Legal Aid was initially established in NDP 10 as a pilot project by the Attorney General’s Chambers and has since become a statutory entity and a parastatal under the MDJS.
The office of Ombudsman will also be constructed in Palapye in the same development plan. Other developments billed for the central boom town from MDJS include upgrading the Palapye Magistrate Court as well as the establishment of a court case management system called Library Management Services.
In the waning NDP 10, a deluxe bus-terminal was also constructed in Palapye. Another one was constructed in Molepolole. Besides the terminal, a fire station was also constructed in Palapye. Other three areas that received the same facilities are Francistown, Kasane and Mochudi.
An Industrial Court, circuit court which sits frequently conducting week-long sessions was also introduced to the boom town in NDP 10. Furthermore, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) also rented offices from the Palapye private sector where they now operate. Palapye has been a destined boom town as far as NDP 9.
It has since surpassed the country’s third and fourth largest cities of Lobatse and Selebi Phikwe, in terms of volume of development. It currently hosts the country’s premier Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST). Just recently, a Member of Parliament for Selebi Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse accused government of neglecting his town and instead focusing major projects on Parliament which is already a commercial centre. He had stated then, “When expects advised that the second university be built in Phikwe, it was instead taken to Palapye, an already commercial town.”
Palapye also plays host to the miscarried Morupule Power Station as well as the adjacent Morupule Colliery. Its rise from relative obscurity to an important central capital, albeit undeclared, has also not escaped the eye of big business. Majestic Five Hotel, a luxurious 4-star hotel also opened for business in the dusty river village in 2011.
Another state funded Palapye mega-project is the failed Fengyue Glass Plant which was sold for P10 million 5 months ago. Efforts by the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) to sell the Fengyue Glass Plant at a much high value hit a snag as it failed to sell at a P58 million tag price. The highest bidder even failed to pay and the engaged auctioneer, KPMG had to run around searching for the best among under bidders to take over the failed plant’s equipment.
The Glass Project was awarded to Rudy Schuhardt of Makoro Bricks at P10 million after the highest bidders failed to pay. In the first planned auction in 2015 no buyers had shown interest in purchasing the BDC’s Fengyue Glass Manufacturing plant. The plant, was sold after the project went up in smoke amid allegations of corruption and was put under liquidation.
Observers believe BDC found it difficult to attract buyers for the plant because it appears there was no proper feasibility study done before it was started. The Fengyue glass project was expected to create employment for residents of Palapye and surrounding areas.
Amongst the company assets that were up for auction is a float glass plant and equipment. An advert on the sale indicates that the float glass is designed to have a daily melting capacity of 450 tonnes of molten glass and designed in compliance with the China Louyang Float Glass Standards. The majority of the plant and equipment remained in its original packaging.
The plant also boasts of a 100 hectare piece of land close to the centre of Palapye and has a dedicated electricity substation with a railway spur. The Palapye Glass Project was 57 percent owned by China-based Shanghai Glass Manufacturing Company and 43 percent by BDC. At the time of total collapse the project was about 70 percent completed and approximately P410 million was disbursed.
Reports recently emerged that cabinet has also decided to sell the Morupule B project to China National Electric Equipment Corporation (CNEEC). The 600 MW Morupule Power Plant has officially failed after spending years faltering. The project went to tender at P7 billon but costs overran to reach P11 billion.
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.