President Lt. Gen. Dr. Ian Khama has shaped and re-designed ministerial responsibilities of his government as well as raising them from from 16 to 18.
The changes which effects after Botswana celebrates her 50th independence – on October 1, 2016 is a consequence of a law passed by parliament on Ministerial Offices (Maximum Number) Act (No.4) of 2016 which commenced on the 16th September, 2016, and increased the number of offices of Minister and Assistant Minister to 18 and 10 respectively.
“Consequently, His Excellency the President has reorganized and re-designated Government Portfolio Ministries,” said the Permanent Secretary to the President and Secretary to Cabinet Carter Morupisi in a statement.
Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration has been re-named to Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration.
Morupisi said that the ministry will coordinate Government affairs and public administration adding that good governance ensures that corruption and maladministration are not tolerated in all sectors of the economy.
“Furthermore, it enhances democracy and the rule of law. All stakeholders, Government institutions, private sector, civil society organisations and citizens must be accountable to the public. They should be timeously responsive and put in place effective and efficient processes that meet the demands of society, while making the best use of resources at their disposal,” Morupisi stated.
He said Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security will replace the existing Ministry of Agriculture.
When justifying the need for altering the ministry, the Secretary to Cabinet explained that food security emphasizes that as a nation we need to increase the production of food locally, reduce the food import bill, create sustainable long term productive employment in the sector, diversify the agricultural sector through high – value added manufacturing of local foods as well as building a culture of consuming local foods, as a first choice.
In addition Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development has replaced that of Infrastructure, Science and Technology. According to the PSP, Infrastructure relates to construction and maintenance of Government buildings. “Housing Development focuses on ensuring that citizens have access to affordable housing or shelter and promotes home ownership through affordable Housing Schemes.”
The contemporary Ministry of Education Skills Development has been split to represent Ministry of Basic Education which will focus on strengthening early childhood development and learning, pre-primary up to Senior Secondary Education.
The other one formulated will be Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology which will be responsible for policy on student financing, tertiary institutions and coordinating research science and technology development to transform to a knowledge based economy.
The PSP emphasised that the tertiary education will make sure that it focuses on producing graduates that are relevant to industry requirements.
Additional Ministry which has also been altered is that of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism as it has been re-named to that of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism. It is said that it will coordinate environmental issues and tourism development.
Morupisi stressed: “natural resources conservation involves conservation and development of forests, wetlands, fisheries, game reserves, wildlife and scenic sites management as well as conservation of protected and ecological areas.”
He said the current Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has been re-organised to newly Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
The new Ministry he added that it shall be responsible for coordination of national development planning, monitoring implementation, mobilizing and managing financial and economic resources for achievement of inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development and overall national prosperity.
Ministry of International Affairs and Co-operation has been formed from that of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Its primary function it is said that it will be to manage international relations and promoting Botswana’s interests abroad as well as safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Ministry of Health has been extended to imply both Health and Wellness. “Apart from preventing diseases, the Ministry shall promote wellness through healthy living which entails nutrition, physical fitness, mental health and self-care by citizens,” Morupisi continued to submit.
The other new Ministry created is that of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development. The Permanent Secretary to the President said it will deal with employer – employee relations, work place safety, health and environment, productivity across sectors and in the work place (work ethics) and vocational and skills development.
Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services have also been designed to carry the functions of proper land administration and management to facilitate socio economic development through land servicing. Furthermore, he added that the sector would ensure delivery of water and reuse of grey water for both domestic and agricultural development.
According to the ministry re-organisation, Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security has also been produced.
Morupisi asserted that it shall “coordinate Mineral Development and regulation of mining activities. Green technology relates to, among others, the use of renewable energy (solar and solid waste for energy generation) to minimize environmental pollution. The combination of alternative energy sources would ensure energy sustainability and security.”
The current Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture has been re-named to Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development. It shall be responsible for Youth empowerment initiatives are meant to empower young people to become active participants in the socio-economic development of the country. The PSP noted: “development of Sport and Culture has the potential to diversify the economy, build character and promote our culture,”
Another Ministry created that will perform the duties of safeguarding national identity, facilitating movement across borders, regulate residence and work permits, registration of societies and coordinating gender mainstreaming, by promoting equality is that of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs which is currently named that of Labour and Home Affairs.
There will be no changes of responsibility to both Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry as well as Ministry of Transport and Communications. This extends also to the functions of the current Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security. Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development would also not be affected in the changes of functions.
The PSP emphasised that the expansion and re-designation of the Ministerial portfolios is intended to ensure enhanced delivery and commitment by Government of its key priority areas, being the achievement of sustained economic development, diversification through citizen empowerment and accelerated job creation, especially among the youth, to ensure dignified livelihoods for all Batswana.
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.
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.
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.