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Dada’s controversial multi-million pula mall finally takes off


The million pula property plutocrat and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) longest serving Treasurer, Satar Dada has finally made headway with the construction of a 45 million pula shopping mall in Kanye after a yearlong hurdle of coaxing some residents to vacate the vicinity of the proposed mall.


WeekendPost has established that all residents in the old Mahube mall/bus rank neighborhood have refused to move out and some even went as far as asking the powerful businessman to at least compensate them with 10 million pula and/or 10% shareholding in order to relinquish their households to pave way for the spacious mall, a request Dada perceived as hilarious and absurd.


It is understood that: “nonetheless, Dada struck a deal with some and their plots have been bought and were relocated to other parts of the village,” a source highlighted to the publication.


Some sources staying in the locality of the massive mall development revealed that they were looking forward to more dialogue on their removal with Dada but he was not forthcoming. “We hoped that we would discuss the matter further and make a compromise of a win-win situation. We do not mind moving out but want a fair deal,” stated the residents who have refused to make way for the proposed mall.


The residents further told this publication that they would have relocated had a more favourable deal like having a stake in the mall been extended to them, or provided they were to be built spacious households in other zones of Kanye. 


WeekendPost this week visited the residents who declined to move away for the mall. The occupants insist that they were not heartily consulted of the imminent mall, and therefore contended that they are weighing options including seeking remedy at the courts of law to halt construction of the mall.


“The mall is likely to bring an influx of the criminal behavior and consequently we will be affected as we stay very close to the mall.” Weekend Post has however observed that the neighbourhood dwellers actually preferred and would have moved if their outrageous needs were met.


Efforts to reach the business magnate last week Friday did not materialize as he was reportedly in endless meetings; this publication was however referred to his grandson, Ridhwan Dada who is overseeing the new spacious Kanye mall project.


According to Ridhwan, “none of the residents were asked to move out; in fact the mall was designed to be smaller but on the acquisition of the neighbouring land the decision was then taken to slightly expand.”


While stressing that none of the occupants were pushed out and promised a ‘fair deal’ by Dada, Ridhwan added rather that the land originally belonged to his grandfather and further that the neighbouring empty plots were consequently purchased.


The BDP money-man’s intention was to build a long-drawn-out state of the art mall at the location which is a ‘historical monument’ of the humble underpinning of his entrepreneurial long business career that now finds him as a business mogul.


“Yes, the location is the very same place where Mr. Dada had begun, on the piece of land stood the residence of Mr. Dada as well as a general dealer store where he started his business career.” It is understood that he had bought the store from one Mr. Mmusi and Mr. Phitshana who co-owned the business initially.


Dada at present owns sundry trades in various sectors of the economy of Botswana including Poultry meat production (chicken industry), Agri-feeds, Printing and Publishing Company Botswana, Motor industry and Property management and many others.


The powerful business man, through his company Faza Investment (Pty) Ltd has struck a deal under the Public Private Partnership programme (PPP) with the Southern District Council (SDC) which is currently constructing Kanye’s second mall amid controversy surrounding the project – that may land in court.


“The Project is a public private project between Mr. Dada and the Southern District Council (SDC).The estimated cost of the project is P 45 Million,” Ridhwan confirmed to Weekend Post in an interview.


In a similar manner, the construction of Mongala mall was also swamped in uproar as some Mongala ward inhabitants (where the mall was built) were unenthusiastic about abandoning their ancestral land and being placed at distant domiciles. Although they finally moved out, they were built spacious households at the different places of residence.


The mall, Mongala which was also built under the PPP with Time projects was estimated at 60 million pula and the Council is to take sole ownership of the mall only after 45 years.


Likewise, the new mall by Dada, which is yet to be given an official name, will be fully taken over by council after 40 years. A source at the SDC has revealed to this publication that Dada will pay the Council an estimated rent of P4 000 per month until the agreement expires in four decades.


The SDC has contributed land where the old bus rank and timeworn marketing stalls were placed and Dada will build a filling station, quick shop and stalls for the informal sector.  The other part of the plot which is bigger is owned by Dada and will occupy a supermarket which will be an anchor store, together with 15 line stores.


The mall is constructed on +- 7000m2 with a lettable area of approximately 2300m2. Shop sizes vary from 85m2 to 240m2 excluding the anchor tenant which is likely to be one of the supermarket brands in Botswana.


SDC Chief Physical Planner, Mr. Brewer Kenosi also highlighted to this publication that“the developmental project sits across two plots with one being owned by Dada’s company while the other by the Council. The company is singlehandedly constructing the capacious mall.”


Kenosi said that the project will immensely benefit locals by providing employment opportunities and that it will give the village a new look.


“We are of the opinion that the mall will provide a conducive environment meant for the people of Kanye and beyond to engage in trade as well as provide pleasurable shopping experience. Among other points it will improve the aesthetic value of the area and at the same time provide much needed infrastructure in the vicinity,” Dada pointed out.


The project is expected to be completed towards the end of next year.

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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