Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President and Leader of Opposition in Parliament Duma Boko has challenged government to spend at least P1.1 billion in facilitating Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) this fiscal year.
Responding to the National Budget presented by Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo on Monday, Boko highlighted the need to spend P300 million for further PPP Research and Development, commercialisation and joint ventures in potential niche sectors of Botswana such as food, medicines, material sciences, coal beneficiation and solar technology.
Boko called for an additional injection of P800 million in PPPs for water drainage infrastructure and solar/bio power technologies to both harvest water and generate power effectively in communities.
The leader of Opposition wants legislation that will provide more extensive guidelines on Public Private Partnerships across sectors in the Botswana economy including PPPs for buildings, roads, research centres, power stations, agricultural projects and other initiatives through which the Government wishes to facilitate the development of our economy and social welfare.
“Deploy the PPP framework to embark on self-sustaining or profitable special projects which the private sector alone, or the Government alone, or the labour unions alone, cannot successfully achieve,” he said.
UDC also proposed for P700 million to be used to purchase more land and embark on Public Private Partnerships for the servicing of those land-parcels in-order to make more land available for the housing needs of a large number of Batswana.
Boko argued that this would significantly accelerate and expand efforts to provide serviced plots at reasonable price, especially for first time property owners.
The Gaborone Bonnington North legislator challenged government to consider other technical partners for the management of Botswana’s diamond mines other than the current De-Beers arrangement.
“We believe that it is necessary to pursue a fair-minded approach that does not unduly defer to DeBeers even where there is a possibility that there are partners that could assist Botswana generate better revenues and profits from our diamond mines,” he said.
“This posture is informed by our view that there have been companies, including one in Russia that has been able to perform admirably despite the global economic slowdown and storm against diamonds.”
Presenting an alternative to Matambo’s budget, Boko remarked that once UDC is in power they would legislate guidelines for the use and governance of public sector employee pensions and provide special incentives for investment vehicles that invest in large agriculture and agro-processing projects, as well as in key strategic sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, mineral beneficiation and services.
Boko stated urgent need to repeal the monopoly legislation of the Botswana Meat Commission, and opening up competition, with regulation in the beef sector and the establishment of a value chain of meat industries in Botswana, to generate foreign exchange and jobs for Botswana citizens.
With Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security getting a surprising fourth largest share of the national budget, Boko mentioned that the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) order of army aircraft believed to cost P1.4 billion should be cancelled.
“We would re-direct some of this money away from aircraft and towards a range of high impact uses including more improved equipment and living conditions for the army,” he noted.
The leader of opposition characterised the current investment system as an assortment of fragmented investments on behalf of Government by various players including the Bank of Botswana, Botswana Development Corporation, Public Officers Pension Fund system and a series of public enterprises, many of whose mandates are not clear and some of which Government maintains tight operational control over.
“Our approach is to pool capital resources and strategic assets, assign clear investment mandates and targets, grant operational autonomy to the satellite of entities and encourage a culture of excellence and merit,” he said.
“These resources, if managed in this way, should bring additional net revenues to Government in the tune of billions per year, although not so in the initial three of four years in which case there will be net costs.”
Commenting on the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP), Boko said Minister Matambo broke ranks with his principals within the governing party who have hitherto sold the ESP as a bold programme to stimulate the economy and bring the good days back. “It is naïve in the extreme to think that an injection of cash into a stagnating economy could somehow engineer an economic boom,’ he said.
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.