President Lt Gen Ian Khama has overlooked two of Botswana’s most recognisable politicians since independence; Daniel Kwelagobe and Dr Kenneth Koma in the Presidential Honours held on the eve of the country‘s 5o the independence anniversary.
Khama conferred presidential honours upon 76 living and dead individuals who have contributed immensely in the formative years of Botswana. Khama honoured former presidents and their First Ladies, former Vice Presidents, First Cabinet, and First Members of Parliament (1965-1969).
Khama also honoured; first members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, members of Legislative Council, which drafted the country’ constitution. Among those who were in the Legislative Council include Leetile Raditladi, Motsamai Mpho, Kgalemang Motsete and other chiefs were part of the council.
Other pioneers, who did not fall within the above categories, were also honoured. Dr Gaositwe Chiepe, the country first female MP and first female cabinet minister was honoured. Archibald Mogwe, a long time Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) veteran who was in the civil service at the time of independence, and became MP in 1974 was also honoured. The same token was extended to Kebatlamang Morake, BDP’s founding Executive Secretary.
Moleleki Mokama, the first Motswana to qualify as a lawyer, and the first citizen to become the Attorney General was also honoured. Simon Hirschfeld, the longest serving Police Commissioner in the world was honoured as well. Hirschfeld was the first citizen to Botswana Police commissioner, a post which he for 24 uninterrupted years from 1971.
Professor Thoma Tlou, a historian, and first Motswana to be Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana (UB) was also honoured.
The honouring of these individuals saw Khama also acknowledging the contribution of a significant number of veterans in the opposition. Among them; KT Motsete who was Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) politician and also the composer of National Anthem, Kgosi Bathoen who belonged to the first crop of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi but later joined Botswana National Front (BNF) as its President.
Those honoured also in the opposition included Philp Matente, the country first Leader of Opposition, Kenneth Nkwa and Thari Motlhagodi, who were first opposition MPs alongside Matante under BPP ticket.
Of the honoured MPs of the first parliament, only three are surviving; Obed Chilume, Gaerolwe Kwerepe and Kenneth Nkhwa. Masire is also part of inaugural parliament.
However, the honouring of the 76 raised eye brows, with Kwelagobe and Koma not finding themselves with the honoured individuals. Kwelagobe is the country’s longest serving MP, having been elected in nine consecutive general elections. DK, as popularly known was an MP from 1969-2014, becoming the only MP and minister to have served under the administration of the four presidents.
Kwelagobe is also the youngest person to be elected MP and to become a cabinet minister. He was only 25 years when he was recruited by founding President Sir Seretse Khama from the civil service to represent BDP in one of Molepolole constituencies.
Kwelagobe is also BDP’s longest serving secretary general, having ascended to the position in 1980, when Masire become party president after Khama’s demise. Prior to that, DK served as Deputy Secretary General. DK held that post until 2007, and have been known to be the most influential man in the BDP since Khama’s death.
Kwelagobe and Khama have been rivals in the factions of the BDP and the two never went along. In the run up to 2009 Kanye Congress, the most divisive congress in the history of the party, Khama and Kwelagobe exchanged words publicly, with the former calling the latter an ailing man and stated that he was not ready to work with.
DK supported Motswaledi, in landmark court battle in 2009, in which Khama’s powers were challenged after he suspended Motswaledi ahead of general elections. More recently, DK supported Dr Margaret Nasha, fall out with Khama, which resulted in her not returning to parliament as Speaker of the National Assembly.
Koma, whom is generally regarded as the father of opposition politics in Botswana, was also omitted. Koma founded BNF in 1965 following the first general elections. The party would go on for the next decades to be the most influential opposition party in Botswana. Since formation, the BNF is the only opposition party which has managed to have representation in parliament after each and every general election.
BNF’s watershed moment was in 1994, under the leadership of Koma in which it won an unprecedented 13 seats in parliament, a development which meant the party was on the verge of winning power, needing only 8 seats in the next general elections to condemn BDP out of power.
Koma became MP in 1984, defeating Botswana’s Vice President, Peter Mmusi for Gaborone South parliamentary seat. He has always been credited with offering alternative policies to the ruling BDP which some of them were later adopted by the party. Among those regarded as his brainchild are the introduction of; old age pension, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), formation of Directorate On Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and public protector’s office, the Ombudsman.
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.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.