The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this week brought up the state house plot ownership, after committee member and Francistown West Member of Parliament (MP) Ignatius Moswaane enquired as to who owns it.
The legislator asked the Ministry of State President’s Secretary of Public Affairs and Public Administration, Kebonye Moepeng to reveal the owner of the plot which the State House sits on.
In a circuitous but strong way he probed: “even though we are reaching fifty years of independence there are rumours that are making Batswana uneasy, they deprive the Presidency of Batswana’s trust and such rumours have already reached the heavens. Batswana are saying the State House is on someone’s plot and we wonder if it really is a State House.”
Also in coded language and without mention of names, Moepeng responded that she does not know that the State House is on someone’s plot, but that it is one of the assets under her Ministry.
Moswaane came back: “We wanted you to clear this mist and your office to confirm or deny if indeed it is a government asset and whether government is paying rental for the State House?”
Moepeng still held her own replying that she is unfortunately not aware that anyone is paying rental for the State House.
In the sustained back and forth, another PAC member and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MP for Tati West, Biggie Butale also questioned Moepeng if she is aware of any Ministry or government department that is paying rental for the State House but she still maintained her response, in the negative.
The unrelenting Moswaane also continued, “These rumours are quite damaging for some people, I believe they are not true but maybe they might be, but you could free us by answering whether they are or they are not.”
In the middle of Moepeng’s intense grilling, PAC member and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President, Ndaba Gaolathe, brought the topic back to the original question about the land on which the State House sits.
Gaolathe reminded Committee members that the State House is not the plot on which it is located, and in other words Moepeng had not said anything about the actual plot ownership.
Moepeng then responded that government housing is under the ambit of Ministry of Lands and Housing and that they are the rightful department that hold such information.
The rumour on the plot on which State House is built is such that the land belongs to the founding President Seretse Khama and lease payment for the plot by government is being channelled to relatives.
It was the first time the incessant rumour which has been popular in opposition party quarters was raised and argued in an official administrative setting.
KEORAPETSE POKES AT STATE BROADCASTER
Meanwhile, Committee member and MP for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse shredded the quality of State broadcaster Botswana Television (BTV) describing it as apathetic.
Keorapetse accused BTV of failure to adhere to fundamental principles of journalism such as the right of reply.
“You can switch on BTV any day and be bombarded with a rebuttal to something you have never seen,” he fumed.
The incensed legislator also probed as to why the popular political program Matlhoaphage was canned.
Moepeng however responded that she is quite happy and impressed with the broadcaster’s content and said that a recent study by Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has rated it high, before challenging Keorapetse to reveal the study he used to draw his conclusions.
Keorapetse then responded that the academia has written damning papers on the broadcaster and political parties have laid complaints, going as far as the Office of the Ombudsman.
Moepeng then responded that she is not aware of any academic papers and even complaints by political parties. She said that sometimes people complain to BTV staff but the station’s decision makers at times cancel production of some programs to make way for others.
When the high-powered Presidency bureaucrat still maintained that she is not aware of either complaint, in a moment of heated exchange, Keorapetse exploded, following up on why Matlhoaphage was canned.
Lunging at Moepeng, he asked that if indeed she was not aware, why would she not ask Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo who was seated behind her, as he is the man in charge of the station. He also warned that a time will come when heads will roll and people will answer as the issues are serious.
Butale also said that he also agrees that Matlhoaphage be brought back as it makes it seem that they are afraid of something.
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.