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Whats next for Khama’s fallen Ministers

Gloria Somolekae

The 2014 general elections have come and gone. Sadly a number of legislators have gone with the just-ended elections. More disturbing is that most Ministers have not come back,  raising questions of not only their replacements but most importantly those of their next move.


An observant eye will have noticed that during the just-ended elections campaign for the ruling party, all the defeated Ministers and BDP backbenchers stood in support of the winners and remained loyal to the party, something that is very different when one looks at the history of the notorious BDP primary elections.

 

Although some were said to be bitter following the much protested party primary elections, which were shrouded in controversies, we later saw rare reconciliatory efforts which saw the BDP united going into the just-ended elections. Candidates supported each other and those who lost the primary elections soiled their hands in response to Khama’s appeal at the 52nd BDP National Congress that those who devote their time and energy to the party will earn his recognition.


At the said meeting Khama told primary elections losers not to despair and we quote him verbatim, “ standing up and demonstrating your party patriotism, and continued involvement in active party affairs will earn you recognition by me and the leadership as much as those who were succesful. This I assure you of,” he said.


 “Withdrawing from participation will be regrettable and unfortunate and would tend to demonstrate your involvement with this party is only for personal interest only. Many of you who lost have accepted the outcome despite the issues and challenges I refer to. I thank them for being true democrats,” he said.


Surely Khama did not anticipate that a huge number of his trusted men will fall again in the just-ended elections. Unluckily for him, the number has increased from those who lost during the primary to general elections. It is now common knowledge that unlike in the opposition ranks when an Minister or MP loses elections in the ruling party they start harbouring some aspirations and hoping for presidential mercy.


This attitude and rewards have for over the years been a topical issue from the opposition ranks and the academia who often argues that some positions are used to reward elections losers and close associates.


With a lot of them this time around and in consideration of Khama’s promise that they have earned his recognition, the million dollar question is who is going where, when and how. A couple of Ministers have fallen and they include among others, Gloria Somolokae, Patrick Masimolole, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, Olebile Gaborone Ramadeluka Seretse, Lebonaamang Mokalake, Eric Molebatsi, Phandu Skelemani, Rev John Seakgosing, Peter Siele, Keletso Rakhudu and Jonhny Swarts. We all can recall seeing these men and woman campaigning for the BDP. Many of us can attest to the fact that we saw them the primary elections losers activism during rallies and launches. The big question is would they ordinarily engage on such a tourturous, industrious and time consuming exercise freely?


It is not far-fetched to conclude that each of these Ministers expect something from Khama.We have seen in some instances elections losers emerging winners outside politics due to this arrangement.But how do they do it? New regimes exploit an array of plum public jobs like postings in foreign missions and State Corporations to reward political allies and cronies.


 While many losing candidates land on their feet, some end up in better-paying jobs than the ones they sought at the ballot box. In fact, the list of defeated candidates who parlayed government experience or political connections into gainful employment elsewhere is long and common in Botswana as is the case in the region and internationally.


While some of the defeated candidates on today’s ballot will fade into history, never to be heard from politically again it is something different for those who went into races with good connections or whose political party controls patronage positions.


This is ussually the case with ruling party members. For opposition, most are often attractive to public or private employers or lobbying firms because of the skills they acquired in government or because they as well developed valuable relationships with powerful players.


This publication has learnt that the Khama is in a tight corner this time around with many expecting favours from him. The deafeat of almost the entire cabinet will give the president a headache,insiders say. Information reaching this publication is that already many have been disappointed at the specially elected MPs as they were hoping to be considered.Sources say there was a lot of acrimony at the choices. After all is said and done at parliament a lot of eyes will now be fixed to the president.
We now zoom into Khama’s Ministers who have lost elections.


GLORIA SOMOLEKAE
An academic of note who lost with a heart-wrenching margin of three votes to Kefentse Mzwinila. Having been brought into parliament through the specially elected ticket, her bid to save her prestigious job was all in vain. Her transfer from Khama’s office to the Ministry of Health raised eyebrows but not many could offer a concrete and credible analysis of the move. While many suspected she might not have blended well with Khama’s tastes, others argued that her some virtues she were noticed that warranted her move to the Ministry of Health. Somolekae will be unemployed soon and like many, she has been traversing the land campaigning for the BDP as well as promoting and defending the not so easy to defend party. She has been delegated by the party as a representative in various occasions and was caught in some instances stretching herself beyond her innermost convictions and principles. Where will she go?


OLEBILE GABORONE
This is the man whose affinities with the Khamas cost the BDP the Tlokweng constituency. The inconcievable blunder by the BDP to recall the party’s representative Elijah Katse has shown how far Khama can go to favour Katse. It is alleged that the two have ventured into businesses together and come a long way. Of late, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development has been silent with some labelling him a spent force. Insiders say he will definately get something big but what could that be?


RAMADELUKA SERETSE
The outgoing Minister of Defence, Justice and Security who happens to be the President’s cousin who was humiliated by his longstanding rival Kgotla Autlwetse by a huge margin. Efforts to save Seretse under blurry circumstances by the leadership were futile following a blunt refusal by the electorates through the ballot.

Contrary to popular view, Khama did not bring him back as a specially elected member and we now know that he will not be coming back to parliament. Insiders say the fact that he was not brought back as a specially elected member despite been close to Khama and having led the Ministry so close to Khama should be a serious warning that something has been spared for him. Others however hint that he may have refused to go back to the Ministry he has been heading owing to his squabbles with the Directorate of Intelligence Services, Isaac Kgosi. Surely he cant be jobless. Where is Ndelu heading?


KELETSO RAKHUDU
Some say he actually did not want to contest the general elections but was forced by his party into doing so. One can buy it by reflecting on the manner in which he instantly responded to the news of his loss to former Gaborone city Council Mayor, Haskins Nkaigwa. He was jubilant and stress-free. A hustler and streetwise man whose surviving skills are immeasurable, Rakhudu seems a man going his way and not waiting for Khama.Insiders say should he get something, it will be for him, a bonus. He has hinted to some that he intends to persue his business interests.


REV JOHN SEAKGOSING
He lost the primary elections and has been very active in the party, assisting it to wrestle power from the opposition. He is said not to be either nearer or distant from Khama’s heart. A diplomatic and loyal fellow, Seakgosing many say will do well on a diplomatic mission and is highly likely to go there.


PHANDU SKELEMANI
He has long lost primary elections. A trained lawyer, former judge and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation who many have been faulted for Botswana’s confusing foreign policy. Often indiscreet, observers said Skelemani’s tone on sensitive international issues was Khama’s voice speaking through Skelemani. A tired-looking fellow who seems not eager to pursue further his political and professional interests. He has been silent of late and has not been featuring in the party’s campaigns. Insiders say he might not feature in Khama’s political rewards plan for allies and cronies.


GAOTLHAETSE MATLHABAPHIRI
Has been left devastated by the unexpected loss to Mahommed Khan. A loyal fellow to the Khama regime who was swapped with Somolekae. One of the tried and tested members of the party whose commitment to the BDP cannot be disputed. He will surely be considered when the cake is divided.


PETER SIELE
One of Khama’s trusted men, aging gracefully, he has not done badly on his assignments. He  lost the primary elections and consequently he was in distress. He initially complained that he was beaten unfairly at the notorious Bulela Ditswe but soon relented. Like many of his fellow democrats, he has been campaigning for the party in times of need and will surely expect something. His anguish following his loss was a clear testimony that he relies heavily on the political office and would want to be given something as well. However, insiders say Khama may consider him a spent force and pick others ahead of him. His consideration they say, will depend on the number of vacancies.


LEBONAAMANG MOKALAKE
He lost the primary elections and like others, has been trying by all means to impress through various means and avenues. He however has been looking a worried man. Some say he has headed a lucrative Ministry and should have made a few land transactions to fall back on in case of any calamity.


OREEDITSE MOLEBATSI
Ousted by Dorcas Makgato-Malesu in the primaries. An active member of the party whose relation with Khama is unclear. His presence and absence in the government and associated arms, insiders say, is insignificant in Khama’s book.


JOHNY SWARTS
A man who was gradually turning the Ministry of Science, Infrustructure and Technology around. A fighter and commited professional. He will surely be among those considered for something.
 

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

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Botswana ranked 129 in female MPs representation

26th July 2022
Minister of Finance & Economic Development Peggy Serame

The Global Gender Gap Index, a report published by the World Economic Forum annually, has indicated that Botswana is among countries that fare badly when it comes to representation of women in legislative bodies.

The latest Global Gender Gap Index, published last week, benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.

This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarked 146 countries. Of these, a subset of 102 countries have been represented in every edition of the index since 2006, further providing a large constant sample for time series analysis.

Botswana ranks number 66 overall (out of 146 countries), with good rankings in most of the pillars. Botswana ranks 1st in Health and Survival, 7th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity, 22nd in Educational Attainment, and 129th in Political Empowerment.

The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). The cross-country comparisons aim to support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.

The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour-force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative indicator gathered through the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar work).

Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).

The Educational Attainment sub-index captures the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education through the enrolment ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education. A longer-term view of the country’s ability to educate women and men in equal numbers is captured through the ratio of women’s literacy rate to men’s literacy rate.

Health and Survival sub-index provides an overview of the differences between women’s and men’s health using two indicators. The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women”, prevalent in countries with a strong son preference. Second, the index uses the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy.

This measure provides an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by accounting for the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other factors.
Political Empowerment sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions. In addition, the reported included the ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the last 50 years.

In the last general elections, only three women won elections, compared to 54 males. The three women are; Nnaniki Makwinja (Lentsweletau-Mmopane), Talita Monnakgotla (Kgalagadi North), and Anna Mokgethi (Gaborone Bonnington North). Four women were elected through Specially Elected dispensation; Peggy Serame, Dr Unity Dow, Phildah Kereng and Beauty Manake. All female MPs — save Dow, who resigned — are members of the executive.

Overall, Botswana has 63 seats, all 57 elected by the electorates, and six elected by parliament. Early this year, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general and Gaborone North MP, Mpho Balopi, successfully moved a motion in parliament calling for increment of elective seats from 57 to 61. Balopi contented that population growth demands the country respond by increasing the number of MPs.

In Africa, Botswana play second fiddle to countries like Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, and Zimbabwe who have better representation of women, with Rwanda being the only country with more than 50 percent of women in parliament.

The low number of women in parliament is attributed to Botswana’s current, electoral system, First-Past-the-Post. During the 9th parliament, then MP for Mahalapye East tabled a motion in parliament in which she sort to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs in parliament to augment female representation in the National Assembly.

The motion was opposed famously, by then Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, who said the citizens were not in favour of such a move since it dilute democracy, instead suggesting the Botswana should switch to Proportional-Representation-System. Botswana is currently undergoing Constitutional Review process, with the commission, appointed in December, expected to deliver the report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by September this year.

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