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Parliament lobbied to divert NDP 11 funds to Phikwe

Tati East Member of Parliament, Samson Guma has called on legislators to sacrifice projects allocated to their constituencies and instead divert the funds to Selebi Phikwe, which plunged into economic crisis following the closure of the BCL mine last month.


The BCL closure has been viewed across the entire political divide as the worst economic crisis ever to hit the country apart from the 2008 global economic recession. Although the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo, has indicated that the closure of BCL will have a minimal impact in the country’s overall economic growth, it is generally agreed that the development will leave the people in Selebi Phikwe and surrounding areas in dire economic status.


Guma expressed that when government conceptualised the plan, it was not anticipating the closure of BCL and Tati Nickel or that people in those areas would be under such difficult economic conditions. “We need to be very open and honest as Members of Parliament that there may be a need for us to adjust this plan to accommodate the challenges that we are facing,” he said.


“It cannot be business as usual when people in Selebi Phikwe and Francistown have no jobs. It cannot be. If the plan does not address these particular issues we need to look at it very carefully and say what we are going to do.” The maverick MP remarked that it is imperative for MPs to make amends to the NDP 11 Plan in order to make some sacrifices because once the plan is passed as it is, it could no longer be changed.


“If I had a project in my constituency that may have to be deferred to cater for the issues as arising in Selebi Phikwe and Francistown, I would forgo that project because the situation as is right now requires that all of us make sacrifices,” he stated. According to him, the budget should be focused on what is seen as having economic growth potential for the country in the next six years and also showing potential to grow targeted sectors.  


“If the focus of unpacking economic growth lies in agriculture, we are going to be looking at the budget allocation for agriculture. If at some point in time we find that the budget allocation in here does not assist us in terms of realising this theme, we must look at it very carefully,” he said. “There is no point in building roads in areas that do not assist us with economic growth even if it gives us political advantage.

Look, at some point in time if it means me losing my popularity and losing a constituency but the country benefits, so be it,” he said. Furthermore, the one time Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning remarked that infrastructural projects in the NDP 11 must be aimed at basically attending to what government sees as having potential for growing the economy.


“Economic growth is key and without economic growth you have got no employment. You cannot fight poverty eradication issues when an economy is not growing.” Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington South, Ndaba Gaolathe stated, when debating the plan that in order for government to realise significant growth, its NDP 11 should be linked with the country’s vision.


“In the Vision 2036, the overall vision is Botswana to achieve a high income status; very clearly as a vision. What I am saying is that, that is not coming out in the National Development Plan. What I am saying is that, it needs to be coming out at every corner that this is the vision, this is where we need to go,” he said.


Gaolathe contended that the first thing that Botswana needs as a country is to agree and decide that the country needs to develop only a few globally competitive sectors or clusters and grow them to a major scale and grow them aggressively and put everything  on these forecast clusters. He mentioned the Tourism Cluster, the Diamond Cluster, the Cattle and Agricultural Cluster, the Financial and Services Cluster as the sectors that Botswana need to give the biggest fight.


“The second principle is that we need to be able or we need to build and attract globally competitive manpower. This should speak to the manner in which we train our people, the manner in which we target those who should come and how easy we should make it for them to come to this country,” he said. Gaolathe further added that government would also have to create an environment in which it is easy for industry and different stakeholders to take up technology, to go into business and achieve what needs to be achieved.


“You also need to create targets for yourselves as a country so that after five  years, we are able to account for our achievement and failures and be able to say that we have achieved this or not.” Bogolo Kenewendo, a renowned rising economist and newly nominated Specially Elected MP also made her debut contribution in the legislative house.


The youthful MP stated that government should spend ‘smart’ and put its money not only in areas where it has comparative advantage but also in areas where it has competitive advantage. Kenewendo indicated that business confidence has declined from 82 percent in 2008 to 36 percent in 2016 and noted that government can no longer afford to let it go lower than that.


“The main concerns are to do with water and electricity, I see those two are prioritised but we need the speed to regain back the confidence and growth rates to pre-economic downturn,” she said. “The buzz word nowadays is disruption. Things are moving at a light speed pace and we need to respond and adapt in an agile manner. We need to pick up our pace in relation to this agenda and be able to compete with the best; Rwanda, Mauritius and Singapore.”


Kenewendo, who had a short stint working for Ghana’s Ministry of Trade and Industry as a Trade Economist prior to being elected to parliament, highlighted that there is need for parliament to look at the NDP 11 through youthful lenses and use it as an opportunity to cement the foundation that will carry the nation to the end point of a generation’s horizon.


“Our population structure has changed. We have a youth bulge which has led to the growth of the working age population from 46.9 percent in 2001 to 64.9 percent in 2011. Our dependency ratio has also changed as a result, when previously we would only focus on the ratio of those aged 0-14 and 65 upward to that of working age, we now have to consider some of those among the working age as dependents too,” he said.  


“This is as a result of high unemployment in our country. I believe that with this glaring reality, we can therefore justifiably say that this document should have a youthful face, represents the hopes and dreams of young people.”

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021
Kebonang

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021
boko-and-khama

President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.

While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.

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