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Lack of constitutional review violates new Vision 2036 – Dikgosi

Some members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi have indicated that the deficiency of a holistic review of the current old-fashioned Botswana constitution violates the newly established country Vision 2036. The country’s supreme law effected in 1965 and it has never been reviewed holistically since then.

The main contention of the dikgosi is that the constitution should be all “inclusive” and “recognise” all tribes in Botswana as per the Vision 2036. In the country’s new vision, citizens pointed out that the supreme law should be reviewed to reflect their assertion and aspirations of making tribes equal in black and white.  

This week, the tribal leaders highlighted during a debate of a motion sponsored by an eccentric Kgosi Galeakanye Modise of the Tswapong Region that the country needs to move with times and change the old law.

Through the motion, Modise had sought “that this Honourable house requests government to start the process of constitutional review, so that Batswana can be afforded an opportunity to make an input on the constitution that would be neutral, respectful and cognizant of every citizen of this country.”

The Tswapong region Kgosi was presenting the motion at Ntlo ya Dikgosi which was also graced by Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Eric Molale, Minister of Basic Education Unity Dow and Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Botlogile Tshireletso who were representing government.   

While putting the motion in perspective he asserted: “let me stress that what am saying is that we must have a constitution which treats all citizens equally. To put this into context, it’s not only me calling for making equal our tribes in the constitution but if you can look at the Vision 2036 as well it echoes this very well.”

“Bogosi will be a visible, functional and empowered institution of governance contributing to national development. Bogosi will continue to maintain social order and cohesion. The power of Dikgosi in community development and the management of public affairs will be continually reviewed and realigned to emerging needs. Botswana laws in respect of customary law and common law shall be harmonised. All ethnic groups will have equal recognition and representation at Ntlo ya Dikgosi,” posits the new Vision 2036 on page 26.

Modise pointed out to a fully attentive house when pondering on the highly sensitive and explosive motion that, “it is Batswana who speak through the Vision 2036, they demonstrate that the current constitution does not treat the members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi equally.”

According to Modise, what concerns him most about reviewing the more than 50 years old constitution is that he believes everyone should at this point concede that the supreme law needs an appraisal to conform to the contemporary times.

While he conceded that they all sit in Ntlo ya Dikgosi and look the same, the nation recognises that “our constitution is flawed, has loopholes and is discriminatory”.

“Batswana also indicated that we are not one and the same in Vision 2016. So they want to correct this so that we are equivalents in this house. They stated even in the previous Vision 2016 document page 25 that “in order to achieve transformation and meet expectation of Batswana, the Constitution and legal framework will be reviewed and reformed.”

If the government does not review the law, Modise stated that they will be working against the aspirations of Batswana as espoused in both the elapsed Vision 2016 as well as the new-fangled Vision 2036.

“Other dikgosi should be on the same league with the old known eight major tribes. Bogosi Act implies that we are equivalents but constitution points a different scenario. And the irony of it is that the constitution supersedes the Bogosi Act.”

He said the then amended Section 77, 78, 79 of the constitution did not address the whole constitutional deficiencies currently be-devilling Ntlo ya Dikgosi.

According to Section 77 of the constitution, under subsection 11 (1) (1) “there shall be a Ntlo ya Dikgosi for Botswana which shall consist of not less than 33 nor more than 35 Members which shall be constituted as follows— (a) one person from each of the following areas, which person for the time being performs the functions of the office of Kgosi in respect of such areas- (i) Barolong Farms in the Southern District, (ii) Chobe in the North West District, (iii) Ga Malete in the South East District, (iv) Ga Mmangwato in the Central District, (v) Ghanzi District, (vi) Goo Tawana in the North West District, (vii) Kgalagadi District, (viii) Kgatleng District, (ix) Kweneng District, (x) Ngwaketse in the Southern District, (xi) North East District, and (xii) Tlokweng in the South East District; (b) five persons who shall be appointed by the President; and (c) such number of persons, not being more than 20, as may be selected under section 78(4)(c) of this Constitution.”

Currently, members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi include Kgosi Puso Gaborone of Batlokwa (Chairman of the house), Kgosi Malope II of Bangwaketse (deputy chairman of the house), Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane from Bangwato, Kgosi Kealetile Moremi representing Batawana, Barolong are represented by Kgosi Botiki Motshegare while Kgosi Mosadi Seboko is sitting in for Balete.

There is also Kgosi Kgari III representing Bakwena, Kgosi David S. Toto II of Kgalagadi South, Kgosi Justice from Moseki, Gantsi East, Kgosi Tjazako Munduu of Ngamiland, while Okavango is represented by Kgosi Disho Ndhowe and Kgosi Lobatse Beslag represents Gantsi West.

Kgosi Kgomotso Boiditswe represents Serowe Region; Kgosi Peter Johane Chika III for Chobe, Kgosi Colly Cock represents Thamaga Region, Kgosi Itsoseng Gaoonwe on behalf of Letlhakeng Region, Kgosi Rapelang Khuwe of Tutume Region and Kgosi Nametso Alfred Kopelo from Molepolole Region.

Maun Region is represented by Kgosi Oleyo Ledimo, Kgosi Thebe Makwa is from Moshupa Region, Kgosi Letso Malema from Bobirwa Region, Kgosi Seate Marumo representing Kanye Region, Kgosi Tshipe F. Tshipe of Mahalapye Region and Kgosi Kgosidialwa Oledile Puso Moalosi for Tonota Region.

There is also Kgosi Kekailwe Moscow Tefiso of Ngwaketse West, Kgosi Galeakanye Modise of Tswapong Region, Kgosi Sekgoma Eric M. Moipolai from North East Region and Kgosi Moeti Monyamane representing Kgalagadi North.

The Specially elected ones include; Kgosi Isaac Titus, Kgosi Moffat Maiba Sinvula, Kgosi Nguvauva Salatiel-Nguvauva II, Kgosi Maruje III Thabo Masunga and Kgosi Tsholo Segwaba.

When supporting the motion Kgosi Masunga III Maruje who has been calling for not only a review of the constitution as well but a holistic approach to it said: “a Constitutional review is long overdue, I agree with Batswana on the Vision 2036 document, I believe it is and should be a holistic issue. So that Batswana can be afforded an opportunity to make an input on the Constitution.”

However Kgosi Kgari Sechele of Bakwena, Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete and Kgomotso Boiditswe of Serowe region shot down the motion insisting that they do not find the need and reason to support it, and that the status quo is fine.

Modise relied his assertion also on section15 of the constitution which states that “Protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, etc. (1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (4), (5) and (7) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect. (2) Subject to the provisions of subsections (6), (7) and (8) of this section, no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of any written law or in the performance of the functions of any public office or any public authority. 9 of 2005, s. 4. (3) In this section, the expression "discriminatory" means affording different treatment to different persons, attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, tribe, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.”

On his part, when responding to the motion, Minister Molale, said the motion touches on the very basic tenets of Constitutionality. “Already neutrality, respect, cognisance of every citizen’s right in this country are enshrined in the very same Constitution that you want to amend.”

“I posit to this Honourable House that our constitution as it is written is adequate, and takes cognisance of every citizen’s right. That is something that we must bear mind to and be knowledgeable of the fact that this constitution is still relevant and will remain relevant for some time.”

So, he added that: “I am positing that this constitution, in as far as the fundamental rights are concerned, is adequate and will remain adequate”. He said to fix that which isn’t broken can actually lead to having to fix more broken things that would have “broke by fixing the unbroken”.

“So I posit that it is not yet time to do an overhaul for our constitution because the laws that are there, in support of the provisions of this constitution are relevant and are effective. So, I further go on to say that to the extend therefore that the mover does not take issue with most of the chapters that make up this constitution, there is no basis whatsoever why the Government should undertake a holistic constitutional review, as opposed to seeking the amendment only of those provisions of the constitution relating to Ntlo ya Dikgosi.”

Molale indicated that the motion as he understands it refers to Ntlo ya Dikgosi and the manner in which Members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi ascend to the house. The OP minister said Ntlo ya Dikgosi as it is, is not a Constituent Assembly and that was done deliberately as it is a House of Representatives.

“When the constitution was amended the country was being divided into 12 districts, and so what seems to be irking some people is why some were/are still referred to as Dikgosikgolo. Remember there is nowhere in the law of this Republic where there is reference to Kgosikgolo. These are perceptions made by people for whatever reason that I would not understand and I have never understood,” Molale pointed out.

According to the OP minister, the constitution as it is and as amended, has provided for election of representatives of Ntlo ya Dikgosi.

With regard to Vision 2036 which was said to be calling for a constitutional review, Molale said the document is straight and forward and only states that “if there is a deficiency in implementing what is stated by the constitution that’s when we can review to improve”.

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Botswana’s development agenda in jeopardy

21st September 2020
Botswana’s-development-agenda-in-jeopardy--water-construction

Stanbic Bank Botswana Quarterly Economic Review indicates that Botswana will fail to meet some of its Vision 2036 targets, particularly unemployment reduction and reaching high-income status.

The report says this is mainly due to the slow economic growth that the country is currently experiencing. This Quarterly Economic Review focuses on the 2020 Budget Speech.

The first paper reviews the entire budget with its key observations being that this budget is prepared as prescribed by the Public Finance Management Act; the priorities it seeks to address are drawn from Vision 2036 and the eleventh

The 2020 budget Speech, which was the maiden speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, and the first after the 2019 general elections, was delivered to Parliament on the 4th of February 2020.

It has been well received by the labour unions, business community, and the public at large as well as international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It mainly derived its support from key facets including, emphasis on changing the business-as-usual approach to development; outlining the transformation agenda; fiscal reform that minimizes the negative impact on economic development and human welfare, competiveness and the decision to implement the 2019 negotiated and agreed public sector.

The budget’s progress review shows that economic growth was consistent with the NDP 11 projections, with growth of around 4 percent. At this growth rate, the country would neither ascend to a high-income status nor reduce unemployment towards the Vision 2036 target of a single digit.

Simple calculations of this review confirm that the economy will need to grow the Vision 2036’s target of 6 percent over the next 16 years for per capita income to increase from around USD 8,000.00 to above USD 12,000.00 in current prices.

Further, the population is anticipated to grow by only 2 percent per annum.

For this reason, the focal areas for the forthcoming FY’s budget include measures to increase economic growth towards an average of 6 percent per annum.

Economic diversification is reportedly progressing fairly well. The report says, the share of the non-mining private sector in value added has risen to 66 percent in 2018 from to 63 percent in 2015.

The sectoral pattern of growth showed that the performance of services sector (particularly transport & communications, trade, hotels & restaurants, and finance & business services) has been the silver lining and that of mining sector was subdued whilst the utility sector disappointed.

The drive towards the service sector of the economy, especially to low-productivity activities (tourism, public administration, wholesaling and retailing) does not bode well for the country’s development aspirations.

In the previous versions of this Quarterly Review, it was noted that there is need for the rethinking of economic diversification. Since the country’s domestic market is small, it is inevitable that economic diversification not only focus on broadening the product mix, but also the composition of exports and markets.

This understanding of economic diversification has not been embraced by this year’s budget. Consequently, Botswana’s exports are still overwhelmingly diamonds, which means that the rest of economic sectors are still highly dependent on foreign-exchange earnings from diamonds. Thus, “the transformation programme requires a review of the country’s entire ecosystem”.

The budget review of the economic context also depicts that an economy with positive medium-term prospects, with growth expected to recover to 4.4 percent in 2020 from the expected growth of 36 percent in 2019 largely due to faster growth of services sectors and, thereafter, to slow-down to 4 percent in 2021.

These projected growth rates are comparable to those of the IMF staff’s baseline scenario of 4.2 percent in 2020 and 4 percent in 2021. Thus, the business-as-usual scenario produces growth rates that are still too low to achieve Botswana’s development objectives and create enough jobs to absorb the new entrants into the labour market.

Trade tensions between the two major markets for diamond exports, viz., the United States of America and China, is one of the factors that are cited as contributing to, indeed, undermining not only the domestic growth, but also the fiscal position.

Another notable downside risk to both global and domestic growth is outbreak of the coronavirus in China around January 2020. This has been declared as a global health emergency. In an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, the Chinese authorities have ordered city lockdowns and extended holidays, of course, at the expense of near- term economic growth, according to the new Stanbic Bank Botswana report.

According to Nomura Holdings Inc., fewer migrant workers returned for work than in previous years and business activities have been slow to pick up. The havoc wreaked by the virus on the world’s second largest economy is likely to spill over to the global economy. In fact, it has resulted in a glut in crude oil and, thereby placed oil markets into a contango, i.e., a market structure where near-term prices trade at a discount to future contracts.

It also presents significant risks one of Botswana’s main drivers of economic growth, diversification and foreign exchange earnings. According to the Financial Times (February 13, 2020), Chinese tourists spent $130 billion overseas in 2018. Regardless of whether the growth materializes, the projected domestic growth rate would not transform the economy to a high-income one.

Progress towards reduction of unemployment, to a target of single digit, and poverty and achieving inclusive growth has also been relatively slow, the Stanbic Bank Botswana Review says.

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OP leases Orapa House

21st September 2020
Orapa House

Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration (MOPAGPA) has through the Office of the President (OP) proposed to avail Orapa House for use by private training institutions as well as research institutions involved in the area of technology development.

For a very long time the monumental building located in the heart of the city has been a white elephant, despite government purchasing it for nearly P80 million from De Beers in 2012.

However, government has now identified a productive use for the iconic building. “The overall vision is for the building to be transformed into a hub for digital technology research and development to be carried-out by institutions, such as; Limkokwing University, BIUST, BITRI and other relevant stakeholders.”

The decision was taken as government traverse a new path of transforming the economy from a mineral led economy to a knowledge based economy through the promotion of research and innovation. However, the facility will need major maintenance to be carried-out in order to meet the requirements of the proposed change in use.

“The work will include provision of laboratories, work stations, production areas and seminar rooms; audio visual centre, high speed internet connectivity, exhibition areas and offices,” reads the proposal note for the development.

These developments will be done through the refurbishment and maintenance of the main building, workshop, and ablution block, gate house, parking area, grounds, and access control and security service.

“There will be minimal modifications to the structure as it stands. The project is estimated to cost approximately P50, 000, 000,” says the report. In this regard, it is said, the initial scope of the OP facility will be modified to accommodate the envisaged digital technology research and development hub.

With funds needed to improve the building, OP has requested that; “the 2020/21 annual budget provision for Orapa House will need to be increased by P37,500,000 from P2,500,000 to P40,000,000 to kick start the maintenance works.” Funds will be sourced from the projects that have been delayed due to Covid-19 protocols during the 2020/21 financial year.

The building has been a thorny issue for government for years. Initially, OP was expected to move there but the move never materialised. At one point it was a question of whether the Office of the President and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development were planning to override a decision by Parliament which rejected the proposal to buy Orapa House under the belief that government may be buying its own property. The building was to be bought at a negotiated cost of P79 million.

Again in 2012, Government had wanted to buy Orapa House for a negotiated P79m but the Finance and Estimates Committee of Parliament had rejected the request because of the inconsistencies realised in the supporting documents of the proposed procurement. The valuation of the building was put at P74 million.

The Ministry of Lands and Housing had initially offered De Beers P73, 000,000 as the purchase price. However, De Beers countered with P85, 000,000. On negotiation and converging of the minds, the selling price was finally agreed at P79, 000,000.

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Sad state of Brigades: dumped and ignored!

21st September 2020
Brigades

Auditor General, Pulane Letebele, has expressed discontentment at the worrying and deteriorating state of brigades in the country.

In an audit inspection which was carried out at Tshwaragano Brigade in Gabane, a number of observations showed weaknesses and shortcomings in the conduct of the financial affairs of the institution.

According to Letebele’s report, former students of the brigade had been engaged to carry out maintenance works on the school premises, comprising of painting, tiling, plumbing and electrical works, which covered the period from July 2017 to June 2018.

Although the agreed maintenance period had elapsed, the works had not been completed because of unavailability of funds and this situation had persisted up till the time of inspection in November 2019.

Auditor General says arrangements should have been made in time for funds to be available to complete these relatively minor works even before the works commenced.

Various contractors had been engaged for clearing the bush and for the supply of concrete stones, pit and river sand and hiring equipment for digging the trench towards the construction of an auto mechanics workshop, the report said.

It stated that the cost of services and supplies provided totalled P117 949.80. However, despite the services and the supplies having been paid for, the construction works had not commenced for a long period afterwards, resulting in the trench filling back in.

The audit inquiries had not elicited satisfactory responses as both the institution and the Ministry had not accepted the responsibility for the project, although orders for the provision for the supplies had been made. For their part, the Ministry had stated that they had sub warranted funds for the purchase of porta cabins.

Letebele indicated that it is therefore confusing that a project which is critical to the functioning of an institution such as this one would commence without a well-defined plan.

Furthermore, the accounting and maintenance of records for the supplies items were not of the standard prescribed by the Supplies Regulations and Procedures in that the supplies ledger cards, the main accounting records for Government assets, were not properly maintained for the recording of receipts and issues.

This had resulted in significant discrepancies between physical and ledger balances, while in other instances the supplies items had not been recorded at all.

The report says 24 of the 91 new computers found in the computer laboratory at Kumakwane ABC campus were not recorded anywhere, as were the other computers in the storeroom which could not be counted due to the disorderly storage conditions.

The institution had entered into a contract agreement with a security company for the provision of security services at Tshwaragano Brigade, ABC and Horticulture campuses at Kumakwane for a 2-year period which ended in June 2018, WeekendPost learnt.

After the contract expired in June 2018, an extension was granted till the 30th September 2018. Since then, there has been no security service coverage for the institution to-date. According to Auditor General, in the face of prevailing crimes, it is of paramount importance that government properties be protected by provision of security services at all times.

At Tlokweng Brigade, it was noted that the kitchen staff were working under difficult conditions as the kitchen facilities and equipment, such as the cold room, tilting pot, food warmers and solar power for hot water were dysfunctional. The kitchen roof was leaking and men’s restrooms was not working. All these need to be brought to a reasonable and functional state of repair.

The kitchen staff should use a purpose-designed Rations Ledger for the recording of receipts and issues of foodstuffs to reflect the usage of those items. As far back as 2014 the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services had found that the house occupied by the bursar was uninhabitable on account of structural defects, the report said.

A site visit during the audit had established that the house was indeed unfit for occupation as there were cracks on the walls, power switches were not working and the roof was leaking. On a sadder note, there were a number of finished items of clothing, such as dresses, shirts, and jackets from students’ practical exercises from the Fashion Design Textiles Workshop.

Auditor General shared her take on this, saying: “I have not been able to ascertain the policy on the disposal of products from these practicals. A trace of 103 green acid-proof overalls which had been purchased in August 2018 had indicated that there was no record of these items having been recorded or issued, nor were they available in stock. I was not able to obtain any explanation for this situation.”

Kgatleng brigade was also audited and inspected by Auditor General who observed that the brigade has 26 institutional houses at Bokaa, both old campus and new campus. Some of these houses are very old and dilapidated, with two declared uninhabitable. The condition of the houses is a clear indication of lack of care and maintenance of these properties.

At the time of the audit, there was no contractor engaged for the provision of security guard services at the new campus, after expiry of the previous one in July 2019.  It is hoped that steps would be taken to safeguard the security of the premises and government properties against any acts of hooliganism.

In August 2019, there was a break-in at the electrical and at the plumbing maintenance workshops and a number of high value items, such as drilling machines, bolt cutters, spanners and cables, were stolen. The break-in and theft were reported to the police.

“However, at the time of writing this report I was not aware of the outcome of the police investigation, nor of any loss report submitted in terms of the Supplies Regulations and Procedures,” Letebele said.

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