Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Duma Boko, has warned government against continual disposal of state owned enterprises to private individuals as it reduces national wealth and is not in the public interest.
Boko issued the warning following government’s recent decision to sell the troubled Morupule B power station. “You are selling off state assets, you are impoverishing the state,” he told parliament this week and added, “Government net wealth is being reduced irresponsibly and our people are catching hell.”
Last week reports emerged that cabinet has decided to sell the Morupule B project to China National Electric Equipment Corporation (CNEEC). The development also follows parliament’s decision to approve private sector participation in the energy sector, and also to establish the regulator.
Boko mentioned that the recent closure of BCL mine, after being put on provisional liquidation means the entity is also destined for the same fate. Government has already completed the privatisation of Botswana Telecommunication Corporation (BTC), with government retaining a 51 percent stake in the company. Financially troubled National Development Bank (NDB) is also billed for the same process in the near future.
Boko, who is also Gaborone Bonnington North legislator, likened what the government is doing to what the United Kingdom did years ago when they reduced their national wealth from two-thirds of their national income in the 1980s and after World War II to very low levels. He said state assets are being sold off on ‘sweetheart’ terms in a predatory conspiracy between cabinet ministers, the elites and the predators in business.
The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader further stated that most of the time, public entities are being sold after being plunged in crises which could have been avoided. “When you lose sight of merit and appoint incompetent people to positions of leadership and responsibility, expect productivity, competitiveness, growth and jobs to suffer,” he said.
“I need to remind you all here, that we sit here in a representative capacity carrying out the mandate of law making, given to us under colour of Section 86 of the Constitution of this Republic which says, that you must make laws for the peace, order and good government of this country.”
It has been contended that privatisation of state entities only benefits few individuals who are able to buy significant stakes in the available stock, while majority of the citizens are not well off and can’t partake in the buying of stakes. Boko said with Botswana being ranked one of the most unequal societies in the world, government should be concerned with making decisions, policies and laws which will try to rectify that problem.
“It is a constitutional obligation for you to enact reasonable laws for the good government of this country – that is what the Constitution requires of you. When you do so, you have to match the needs of the country to the available resources in an equitable manner,” he remarked.
His contention was that, while the Minister of Finance and Development Planning has told parliament that the economy is working well, it is only working well for the few while the vast majority are feeling the pinch. “The obscene levels of poverty and inequality; both wealth and income that have given us the ignominious ranking of the most unequal society in the world must force you people to reflect and reflect seriously,” he pointed out.
“Poverty is a gross violation of human rights, let us accept this fact. Poverty in whatever shape or form is a gross violation of human rights. It mocks the rights enshrined under the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of this Republic.” The NDP 11 document indicates that failure to address some of the problems relating to gender and inequality is mainly due to unavailability of disaggregated data and archaic laws.
Boko expressed that this is an admission that government has failed to provide data necessary for legislators to make targeted interventions through policies and laws. He said the same way that government has targets for inflation; it should have targets for fighting unemployment.
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.