Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) this week rejected the name of party Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane for Specially Elected Member of Parliament (SEMP) nomination at the party caucus, WeekendPost has learnt.
Instead the caucus culminated in the endorsement of two names which were selected by President Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama being political heavyweight, Mephato Reatile as well as celebrated economist Bogolo Kenewendo.
The duo, seen as Khama’s “darlings” were subsequently given a nod by the party caucus and later on by the esteemed National Assembly.
However Weekend Post has established that Ntuane’s name was also “mentioned” and “submitted” on the floor at the crucial party caucus. It is understood that Khama was physically present at the meeting – possibly to safeguard his interest of the desired SEMP and ensure their nomination.
Nevertheless the non-conformist and heroic Francistown West legislator, Ignatious Moswaane together with Tonota North law maker who is now Assistant Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Fidelis Molao, recommended the name of the party Secretary General for the special nomination which was subsequently pondered on although the battle was lost.
The suggestion of Ntuane was easily brushed off as it was agreed that the party President, Khama already had his two picks that he was putting forward for endorsement at the caucus.
“Yes it is true that some suggested Ntuane but he was rejected at the caucus as we believed that the elders know very well what they were looking for in the two already elected by the president and submitted before us so we just abode by the pronouncement and endorsed them without further questions,” a BDP legislator who preferred anonymity and was present at the caucus told Weekend Post on Thursday.
On his part when approached for comment by this publication, Ntuane insisted that he was not part of the caucus as he had excused himself of attending and however welcomed its decision.
“I think people were just wishing me well. Caucus agreed on the names,” he told this reporter.
The BDP SG stressed that: “They are now our MP’s; endorsed by our caucus and we think highly of them and look forward to their enriching contributions in parliament.”
Why Khama preferred Reatile, Kenewendo
The BDP lawmaker explained that the assertion advanced at the BDP caucus to convince the party members to toe the line on Khama’s preferred names was that the nomination of Reatile was seen as essential to the party as he is a political strategist who is precisely solid on the ground.
The former two time law maker for Ngwaketse West (now re-named Jwaneng/Mabutsane constituency), was praised as a strongman, a political hardwearing that campaigned vigorously for domkrag in the 2014 General Elections and in the subsequent bye-elections hence his being “rewarded.”
Reatile was a law maker from 2004 until 2014 under the opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) and he later defected to the ruling BDP just before the 2014 General Elections but lost the election under the party.
“We were told that even though he lost the parliamentary seat to opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s Shawn Ntlhaile, he achieved so much for the party and as he is a prodigious mobiliser,” the BDP MP continued.
The other endorsed Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Kenewendo was acclaimed to be a world class economist who is very crucial at such economically uncertain contemporary times hence her nomination. Although wet behind the ears, “she was hailed as a top notch economist, highly learned from sophisticated overseas institutions”.
Having grown up in Motopi village in Boteti, the area legislator Slumber Tsogwane welcomed her nomination and was happy that she was chosen from a rural area falling under his constituency.
“I am very happy for her nomination particularly because she is from my constituency, very young, talented and that she will add value to our area and by extension the country,” stated the Boteti West lawmaker who doubles as Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
Prior to nomination, Kenewendo had just quit a job at Ghana where she worked as a Trade Economist in the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Before leaving for the East African country she was employed as an economic consultant at Econsult Botswana.
She holds an MSc in International Economics from the University of Sussex in the UK, and was a recipient of the prestigious Chevening Scholarship in 2012. She completed her BA in Economics at the University of Botswana.
Kenewendo’s profile suggests that she has experience in consultancy, research and policy analysis. Her areas of expertise include (among others): macroeconomic policy, export development, regulatory frameworks, poverty alleviation, financial sector development, the economics of HIV, climate change, as well as business advocacy and project management.
The internationally trained economist has been an active advocate and adviser on socioeconomic issues, especially poverty and inequality, as well as youth and women participation in the labour market.
As a policy analyst, she has led the execution of key projects and she chaired the youth sector of the President of Botswana’s High Level Consultative Council, addressing challenges faced by the private sector in Botswana.
Kenewendo was one of two Botswana youth delegates who attended the 64th and 65th Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly and as part of this responsibility, she was nominated to present a statement about African youth to then UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
What prompted the Special nomination?
The nomination of two Specially Elected Members of Parliament were a result of constitutional amendment to a bill, named Bill No.3 of 2016 Constitution (Amendment) Bill, which was published on the 5th February 2016.
The Bill which was later passed by parliament proposed to increase the number of Specially Elected Members of Parliament from 4 to 6. The Bill was presented by Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale.
In addition to Reatile and Kenewendo, the other 4 specially elected legislators include Unity Dow, Kenneth Matambo, Kitso Mokaila and Eric Molale.
The decision to increase the SEMP was also hatched at the BDP caucus towards the end of last year.
The Bill suggested that the economy of Botswana continues to grow in size and in complexity therefore the increase in number of Specially Elected Members of Parliament will provide a window of opportunity for the National Assembly, and by extension cabinet, to increase the number of members with the necessary expertise and skills to manage a modern and complex economy.
African Scientists and Experts Call for the adoption of a Harm Reduction in approach in Public Health Strategies and Tobacco Control. Media have a critical role to play in accelerating Harm Reduction efforts by informing and sensitizing cigarette smokers on the availability and benefits of alternative, potentially lower risk products to cigarretes. Traditional cessation and smoking prevention norms are not the only ways that smokers who cannot or donâ€™tâ€™ want to quit can make healthier choices that cause less harm to themselves and those around them.
This was said during the 2nd Harm Reduction Exchange conference for African journalists held in Nairobi, Kenya on the 1st of December 2022. Speaking at the Harm Reduction Exchange Conference, Integra Africa Principal Dr. Tendai Mhizha emphasized the role that journalists and media houses should play in handling misinformation and disinformation in tobacco harm reduction discourse that is actually perpetuating the death and disease caused by people continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes. â€śThere has been a lot of disinformation surrounding the topic of nicotine and the alleged negative effects that e-cigarettes have on public health.
This has led to policies that disfavour risk reduces products and narratives that completely deny their benefits. The media have the difficult responsibility to curb the scourge of disinformation and misinformation on harm reduction just like on other socio-political stances that are prescriptive and do not uphold consumersâ€™ right to healthier lifestyle choices,â€ť Dr Mhizha said.
The Harm Reduction Exchange cast a spotlight on alternative ways to reduce harm among tobacco smokers. Held under the theme Harm Reduction: Making a difference in Africa, the conference focused on the progress being made through harm reduction strategies in all fields related to public health such as drug and alcohol abuse, excessive sugar consumption, skin lightening and other addictive and behavioral practices. A wide array of harm reduction strategies and initiatives that are deployed towards reducing unnecessary deaths through non-communicable diseases were presented and discussed.
It applies to areas where there is a need to reduce the harm associated with a practice or consumption of a substance that is overused in society leading to increased morbidity and mortality. â€śInnovative Harm Reduction initiatives will help to keep more Africans alive. Tobacco Harm Reduction initiatives, including the use of popular e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and chewing gums, have continued to generate a lot of misunderstanding in both the public health community and in the media. However, there is evidence that the use of potentially less harmful alternatives than cigarettes for those who are not willing or cannot give up smoking with currently approved methods may be a solution, not necessarily the best for everyone but by far better than continuous smoking.
Tobacco Harm Reduction was introduced to mitigate the damage caused by cigarette smokingâ€”the most dangerous form of tobacco use, and the leading cause of preventable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. â€śNicotine has an addictive potential but plays a minor role in smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Across the world, there is growing interest among experts in novel approaches towards tobacco control and there is an ongoing discussion that reducing the negative effects of smoking can be also achieved by tobacco harm reduction,â€ť Dr. Kgosi Letlape, an ophthalmologist and President of Africa Medical Association and the president of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa, said.
Tobacco cessation is a key factor in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Abstinence from tobacco smoking is one of the primary goals for health promotion and management globally but it is unachievable in a huge amount of cases. This task remains unaccomplished despite extensive public campaigns on the health dangers of tobacco smoking. Thus, the development of novel strategies to reduce smoking is imperative. Moreover, the use of innovations in smoking products has been currently adopted by several smokers to reduce the health risks of smoking.
â€śThe Harm Reduction approach prevents drug-related deaths and overdose fatalities and is the only way out for addicts. In the same way these alternative technologies can reduce tobacco harm and accelerate the journey to a smoke-free world as they reduce exposure to toxicants,â€ť Bernice Apondi, A Policy Manager at Voices of Community Action and Leadership Kenya (VOCAL-Kenya), said.
During the Harm Reduction Exchange, journalists drawn from Southern, West and East African countries, including: Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe debated and set forth several resolutions in regards to the present and future as well as the challenges and progress made in Harm Reduction,and science-led regulation.
The Harm Reduction Exchange brought together high-level policy makers, physicians, scientists and health policy experts with media stakeholders from Africa in a lively mix of speeches, presentations, and panel discussions. The key note speakers included Prof Abdoul Aziz Kasse, Ms Bernice Opondi, Joseph Magero, Jonathan Fell, Chimwemwe Ngoma, Clive Bates, Dr. Kgosi Letlape, Dr. Vivian Manyeki and Dr. Tendai Mhizha.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.