Member of Parliament for Selebi Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse, has called on Botswana to leave its comfort and stop comparing itself with states below it.
In his response to the National Development plan 11 last week in parliament, Keorapetse noted that Botswana needs to raise the bar and compare itself with the likes of Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong amongst others.
According to him, the story of Dubai started in the 1960s just like Botswana with only a 300 000 population and not so much oil deposits but was able to transform into the world’s most luxurious economy five decades later. “Dubai was in a sorry state in 1960, the oil they extracted was even very expensive to source out. What Dubai did is that it used oil generated revenue to invest into service industries,” he said.
Keorapetse explained that one of the Asian Tigers Singapore gained independence in 1965, with no minerals and natural resources like Botswana, “Singapore today has a GDP per capita of $62 100, 8 times that of Botswana and is the world 10th largest foreign reserves assets owner with $ 273 billion, 32 times that of Botswana, but it started from nothing just like Botswana and worst enough with no Diamonds like us.”
The youthful legislator further compared the unemployment rate in Singapore to that of Botswana which sits at 2 percent (%) in a population of 5.4 million compared to 22% in a population of 2 million in Botswana. The BCP MP noted that unemployment, exclusion of Batswana in lucrative business undertakings and opportunities favoring foreigners and nationalized citizens are among other persisting problems that continue to defeat the country’s celebratory purpose.
“Madam Speaker, NDP as presented by honorable Minister comes at a time when Botswana just turned 50, and it should reflect the status of a 50 year old diamond wealth economy,’’ he said. “As of 2011, the national statistic average monthly monument was P4265 and that of a foreigner was over P12 000, proving the income and wealth inequality.”
Keorapetse further said that a senior civil servant earns over P50 000 per month and the lowest paid only takes home P1500 a month. He added that even in business opportunities, native Batswana benefit less as procurement of goods and services is dominated by foreigners, 50 years later.
’’We have the worst inequalities in the world, we compete with United States, Brazil and South Africa,’’ he lamented. According to Keorapetse who is also the BCP spokesperson, young people continue to be left out as they are unrepresented in key decision making bodies, regardless of the fact that they are the ones highly affected by underemployment and poverty.
’’Young people are not represented in parliament, executive and other decision making bodies, we instead have retirees deciding for the youth, yet they the youth account to a larger percentage in Botswana’s population.’’ He bashed the NDP 11, referring to it as target-less and having no commitment attached to it.“It’s unclear what the NDP 11 seeks to achieve because it has no targets on how many jobs you wish to create honorable Minister.”
“In fact you have not indicated honorable Minister how many jobs were lost during the course of NDP 10 because it would probably shame this government,’’ he noted. Keorapetse explained that a national development plan must state clearly to how many percentages the undertaking intends to reduce poverty, unemployment and other social ills.
Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo rubbished Keorapetse’s observations indicating that the figures and targets attachment is purely academic. Meanwhile Keorapetse further advised that government should stop buying military weapons, “Stop stockpiling arms of war ga lere bolelle gore ntwa eta etswa ntha ehe le rona re e ipaakanyetse.’’ (You are not alerting us as from where the attack is coming so we can also get ready).
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.