Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, who is the younger brother to the country’s sitting President, Ian Khama, has accused the Parliamentary committee and its Chairperson, Samson Guma, of conniving to hurt his political ambitions.
Guma, who is the Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Enterprises (PCSBE), had summoned minister Tshekedi this week to appear for the second time before the committee to answer for his alleged maladministration at the Ministry. This was on the back of developing events at the beleaguered Botswana Tourism Board (BTO where Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brian Dithebe was instructed to cut his stay at the organisation short without any reasonable explanation. Dithebe’s work contract was abruptly terminated, allegedly at the instruction of the Minister.
“We know here it may look like the committee is doing its job, which I do not have a problem with. But me and you [Guma] know beyond the parameters of this wall there is politics behind it,” Tshekedi levelled the accusation. His point was that, in as much as he admitted that his Ministry wasted huge sums of tax payers’ money, other Ministries had done the same and squandered billions of government money and yet they were not being grilled as his Ministry was. “I also want this [probing] extended to other institutions that have wasted billions of government money. And I’m glad my ministry has not wasted as much.”
Tshekedi is said to have ordered Dithebe to implement a new organisational structure which will cost government an additional P22 Million in the current financial year. The Minister reportedly informed BTO that the shortfall will be financed through a supplementary budget request. Meanwhile he was flouting the BTO regulations by allowing it to run without a board for sometime while he called all the shots. Tshekedi said, although he admits guilt and takes full responsibility of what happened in the aftermath, his actions were carried out in good faith.
“Of course I agree that it took a long time to appoint BTO board, but there was a reason behind it because I wanted to appoint the right people,” he said. “We have your BCL, BDC (Botswana Development Corporation), BMC (Botswana Meat Commission) and BPC (Botswana Power Cooperation) all of them had boards but cost government billions of pula. But they had the boards. That is why I wanted to be careful on who I appoint to the BTO board.”
Tshekedi informed the committee that he has since appointed the BTO board and it is expected to be operational effective 1st November 2016. With the committee keeping Tshekedi on his toes with regards to the maladministration at BTO, which include possible nepotism, the hot tampered minister revealed that it was not only BTO facing some sort of trouble, and further revealed that many institutions are much worse but are not subject of interrogation.
“The reason why this committee exists is to indentify wrong doing in operations of government institutions, which it is doing now. My plea is that the committee should also look into other institutions as well, not just my ministry.” Tshekedi did not mince his words as he told the committee he has been dealing with “liars” at his ministry, referring to his Permanent Secretary, Elias Magosi and BTO departed CEO, Dithebe. “Most of the time I used to trust everything they said to me, including signing of the letters. But for all this time I was being misled,” he said.
The Serowe North West legislator conceded that the relationship between him and the duo had not been good in recent years, adding that he had tried to rekindle the relationship but failed. Tshekedi even told Guma that, as a former Assistant Minister, he should be privy to how public officials can easily mislead cabinet ministers.
“When you [Guma] were the Assistant Minister of Finance [Finance and Development Planning] you were misled into approving the P4 billion request by BPC which later turned out to be a bad decision,” he said and added, “It is happening across all the ministries.” However, Guma insisted that the committee should recommend for a forensic audit at BTO in a report which is scheduled to be submitted to parliament. Although Tshekedi was half hearted about accepting the suggestion of forensic audit, he gave it a lee way if it is for the good purpose of the committee.
Tshekedi spoke authoritatively about the political ill-motive of seeking to discredit him using the committee. Although Guma instructed Tshekedi not to give the media interviews with regards to the proceedings of the committee, it is obvious that Tshekedi views the recent developments having a lot to do with his presidential ambitions. Tshekedi, who is the younger brother of President Ian Khama, has declared his presidential ambitions ahead of the 2019 general elections.
With conspiracy theories becoming common, it is believed the power struggle between incumbent Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is the apparent heir to the throne and other possible challengers, is gaining momentum. Reports were rife recently that the closure of BCL was also politically motivated, something which Masisi dismissed as ‘mischievous’. One of the two Selibe Phikwe constituencies belongs to Nonofo Molefhi who is a rival of Masisi.
It is reported that Molefhi and Kitso Mokaila were some of the cabinet members who opposed the decision to put BCL on provisional liquidation, which might ultimately lead to the permanent closure of the company. Mokaila has since been transferred to Ministry of Transport and Communications.
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.