Incongruities are playing themselves out in the rough and tumble of politics, as some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary backbenchers this week came out guns blazing, accusing the executive of negligence and denying them opportunities when they present themselves.
This comes at the backdrop of the two looming ministerial posts which are said to be out of bound for the backbenchers.
Weekend Post has it on good authority that instead the posts will be allocated to the new Specially Elected Members of Parliament (SEMP) that will be selected by President Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama in due course.
The posts which were advertised through a Bill in the government gazette of 5 February 2016 will enable Khama to “review Ministries whose portfolios are too wide with the view to reducing the mandate,” and “cater for priority areas or emerging areas of responsibility.”
This publication has established that some backbenchers have already thrown themselves in the ring for the looming two Assistant Ministers posts in the likes of Setlhomo Lelatisitswe, Ignatious Mzwinila, Kefentse Mzwinila, Polson Majaga and Liakat Kablay.
Khama will only select the Assistants, which are at his mercy, from the party backbench. The president has the legitimate prerogative to choose who he wants in his cabinet and is duly advised by his ‘own criteria.’
“While there is a pool of backbenchers in which the president is spoilt for choice to pick from, it’s unfortunate that only two mere Assistant Ministers will be selected from the backbench,” backbencher and MP for Boteti East Lelatisitswe Setlhomo told Weekend Post this week.
He emphasized that “it’s ill-fated that the Specially Elected new law makers will be automatically appointed Ministers in the two ministries which are on the loop,” as he believes that they too have the requisite capabilities and expertise as much as those that will come on board.
The procedure for nominating SEMP at BDP is that the names are dropped at the party parliamentary caucus, and the majority will decide for recommendation while the president will take the final decision – although subject to endorsement by Parliament. The ruling BDP which has been in power since first elections in 1965 still banks on its majority in the National Assembly.
The Bill to increase SEMP, Ministries and Assistant ministers will also, as is the norm – pass through Parliament as well as Ntlo ya Dikgosi.
The backbenchers insist that they have been thrown to the wolves against initial decision making processes of the party and by extension government.
Recently the backbenchers were also at odds and differed with the executive over the talk-of-the-moment Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) which is aimed at stimulating the economy, accelerating job creation for citizens and promoting economic diversification.
The backbench has said that they have been neglected in the process of crafting the programme and subsequently doing informed dissemination. Their intention was to internalize the programme and own it, as well as accurately and properly share it with the public.
According to the BDP’s Lelatisitswe, above all the crux of the matter is that communication is not properly realized between the party backbench and the Executive “so there is that information gap between cabinet and ourselves”.
Setlhomo stated that: “as a new comer in this Parliament, I have realized that the executive takes most of the decisions separately from the backbenchers.”
He said their various constituents expect them to have all the information on the government’s state of affairs and sometimes they are not well versed as the Executive plays their cards very close to their chests.
Our constituents in general just think we are part of everything and we know everything when it’s actually the opposite in some cases, he pointed out.
“But we have brought such issues and complaints to caucus especially that: we should be briefed in advance for any big development in the party and government.”
According to the MP, it appears that, at least cabinet does appreciate their position.
BDP Chief Whip and MP for Letlhakeng West Liakat Kablay who also forms part of the backbench also pointed out that the party should bring in more politically active members through SEMP so that they can effectively defend the seemingly plummeting party, at least in terms of popular vote as well as losing political big fishes recently like former Speaker of Parliament Margaret Nasha.
“These SEMP posts should therefore bring shrewd and robust politicians and, not technocrats, who will defend the party from the buoyant opposition especially the young turks who would be able to hit back real hard at the likes of Mma Nasha who has vigorously attacked the party lately,” Kablay said.
“The proposed two ministers and assistant ministers should be allocated to the backbench,” another backbencher Polson Majaga told this publication blatantly.
“It’s like the executive is belittling the backbench if they bypass them in preference for new SEMP’s and by extension appointing them to ministerial positions while they will be still new to Parliament and most importantly without a constituency as we have worked hard to earn ours and sustained the party as it still remained in power.”
In the current Parliament, the BDP backbench consists of Gantsi South MP Christian Degraaf, Francistown East’s Buti Billy, Ignatious Moswaane of Francistown West, Tati West legislator Biggie Butale, law maker for Maun East Kostantinos Marcus, Mahalapye West’s Joseph Molefhe and Polson Majaga of Nata/Gweta.
It also includes Ngami MP Thato Kwerepe, Machana Shamukuni for Chobe, Setlhomo Lelatisitswe of Boteti East, Letlhakeng West’s Liakat Kablay, Guma Moyo of Tati East, Kefentse Mzwinila of Mmadinare, Itumeleng Moiphisi from Kgalagadi North, Letlhakeng/Takatokwane’s Ngaka Ngaka as well as Gaborone South’s Kagiso Molatlhegi.
“People shouldn’t be brought from outside, they should be selected from within – amongst the backbench to be precise,” Majaga stressed.
Majaga argued that the rules of elections are straight and forward and everybody can join the train to Parliament and it is when they are within that they should then stand a chance to be chosen to the decision making and lucrative executive.
He added that the party seems to be applying the notion of ‘all animals are equal but others are more equal that others’.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.