An intense battle which had been simmering among ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members over the much touted Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP), played itself out last week at their Christmas session held at Party Chairman Mokgweetsi Masisi’s palace.
The get-together, which was punctuated with discussions of some of the party issues, got off to an ugly start with the ESP being at the heart of the controversy. The hot potato was the distribution of ESP projects of which ministers are accused of awarding their respective constituencies more than a lion’s share, leaving ordinary MPs with nothing, something the Backbenchers characterized as a vote-winning gimmick.
“Cabinet meets every Wednesday and indications are they took the decision at their weekly meeting. But it is unfair for them to give their constituencies bigger projects at the expense of others especially those held by Backbenchers. This is plainly their plan to win the hearts of voters so that by 2019 they can get re-elected,” a source told Weekendspost.
It is said some Cabinet Ministers like Shashe West MP Fidelis Molao and his Nkange counterpart, Edwin Batshu have already awarded themselves huge projects, with Batshu allegedly planning to develop the Tutume Primary hospital and some internal roads while others are not given a share.
The backbenchers, who learnt about this ‘covert operation’ before the meeting cried foul, especially that some of their places, are still underdeveloped almost 50 years after the country’s independence from Britain in 1966.
“They want this to be rectified and the distribution be done equitably looking at the needs of the various constituencies”, the source who attended the event said. It is said that some of the ‘ordinary’ legislatures even confronted Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo so he could intervene.
Upon seeing the situation was taking an ugly turn, Vice President and party Chairman, Mokgweetsi Masisi calmed the disgruntled legislators by coming up with a reconciliation plan to appease both parties.
“Masisi advised each MP to write down their needs so next year at the party caucus they can see how the developments could be fairly distributed, and this was given the thumbs-up by the members,” the Weekendpost source said.
The plan however – just like the ESP – was announced at the party meeting in October and is expected to be deliberated upon during a party closed-door convention. Since this will be deliberated upon in a party setting what about the opposition held constituencies, will they get something?
“This is simply a party initiative; the BDP owns this programme and the chances of the opposition held constituencies getting something are very slim. The party will use this ESP thing to win the hearts of Batswana going into the next elections; people are being fooled about this whole developmental drive, and this is a BDP project,” an impeccable source told this publication.
However, it remains to be seen whether only the constituencies of MPs under the BDP will benefit, as the government has vehemently rubbished such allegations. Molepolole North and Gaborone Central, which are under the opposition MPs, have already had their share of developments planned.
President Dr Lt gen Ian Khama announced at a BDP Special Congress that Botswana will use some of its foreign currency reserves to fund an economic stimulus program. He said the objective is “to stimulate the economy for accelerated employment creation and diversification.”
Botswana has foreign reserves of 88.1 billion pula ($8.55 billion) as of July, according to the Bank of Botswana. The stimulus plan will target tourism, farming, the construction of buildings and roads and manufacturing, Khama said.
Botswana forecasts that its budget will swing to a shortfall of 4.03 billion pula in the year ending March 2016 from a surplus of P3.67 billion in the previous year, due largely to slower sales of rough diamonds and lower metals prices.
“We have now seen that if we cut projects, our economy is going to stagnate. We have built up sufficient reserves and the time has come to use these reserves.”
The country will be “bringing back part of our funds which are managed in other countries for use here at home,” Khama said.
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.