The Board of Botswana Railways sat on Thursday to deliberate on several issues among them the launch of the passenger train on March 22. The organisation has been in the eye of the storm due to allegations of corruption and maladministration. Recently the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has interviewed a number of executives and staff at the organisation.
At its meeting the Board is said to have focused mainly on ensuring that the passenger train is delivered because President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama wants it launched hence the pressure on Minister Tshenolo Mabeo to drive the board. While the corruption allegations have been left to the DCEC to deal with some board members expressed concern at the ‘littering’ of company information that could have been better handled internally if management was responsive to issues as they emanate.
The Board resolved to support management in ensuring that the passenger train is launched on the agreed date. Transnet is expected to deliver at most 10 coaches before the launch date although they are said to be extremely incensed by the ongoing probe by the DCEC. The conversations at the Board meeting echoed the sentiment that the passenger train must be launched come rain or sunshine.
While it is reported that one of the Directors at the Botswana Railways told his department that they are unfazed by the media reports or allegations of corruption because of the backing they have from Minister Mabeo, it is understood that some Board members want those involved to be dealt with if indeed corruption is proved at the organisation. Minister Mabeo accompanied management recently to South Africa to assess the progress at Transnet on the manufacture of 37 coaches.
PROMOTIONS OF SHAME
Of concern to them is the close to 50 audit queries raised by the Auditor General about the organisation. Among those are indications of nepotism and favouritism when it came to certain appointments at Botswana Railways. One of the queries from the Auditors is the appointment on promotion of one of the Graduate Trainees who was elevated on promotion to the position of Corporate Communications Officer in March 2015 after joining on August 2014. The Auditors were surprised that this contravened a Botswana Railways policy which stipulates that one should enter into a trainee contract for a period of 12 to 24 months before absorption into employment.
On a separate case an employee who was roped in as a Cook in 2007 and mysteriously redeployed to the position of station Attendant under the Operations and Engineering Department during the 2014 restructuring exercise. In between she has been conspicuously benefiting from unexplained acting allowances approved by her director. At some point she acted in the position of Human Resource Clerk without the necessary qualifications, the position was subsequently scrapped off but she continued to claim the acting allowance. After the position was scrapped off she was moved to Registry Office, a function one of the employees had been removed from under the explanation that it was being phased off. She has been earning P8195.00 instead of P2209.00 for the past two years.
A 60 year old light duty driver who has reached compulsory retirement age has also been offered a two year contract and this came as a shocker because usually only scarce skill people like engine men can be considered.
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.