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Motsaathebe’s night vigil came to naught

Motsaathebe demanded counting be re-done

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Youth Leader, Kenaleone Motsaathebe is at loggerheads with the party over irregularities that spurned out of the Goodhope-Mabule primary elections.

By Thursday evening Motsaathebe was consulting with some lawyers in Gaborone on the legal options he could pursue against the party after he alleged that he was not given an opportunity to be heard after he complained about “cheating” in the party primaries. But he was also keeping an open mind on a “political solution”.

While Motsaathebe was busy consulting with his lawyers, BDP secretary general, Botsalo Ntuane was already on his way to Goodhope to file papers for the nomination of Eric Molale as the BDP candidate for the bye-election. He also had an engagement with BDP members in the constituency.

Molale was declared winner for the second time on Wednesday night after a verification process that was demanded by Motsaathebe. During the verification process Motsaathebe’s votes increased by a further 67, while

Molale’s went up by 34. Other candidates also received extra 32, 17, and 1 vote in that order.

The additional numbers gave Molale a 45 vote margin over Motsaathebe. Initially Molale garnered 703 votes and Motsaathebe was voted by 625 BDP members.

Those who attended the verification process intimated that Motsaathebe was not convinced that he lost fairly. He indicated that the verification process had revealed discrepancies hence he demanded that the ballots be recounted.

The other candidates, Mononi, Mogatle and Segatle were also invited because they were interested parties. Motsaathebe was clear that the matter involved him and Molale. The BDP hierarchy at the meeting indicated that counting would take the whole night, and was going to be a lot of work, but Motsaathebe insisted on it.

To throw the spanner into the works, BDP lawyer Parks Tafa demanded that Motsaathebe make an undertaking that he will accept the results should the recount be done, but Motsaathebe refused to make an undertaking.

The time was already 11pm and the BDP leaders decided to declare Molale the winner for the second time. Motsaathebe was not happy with the decision.

Those close to Motsaathebe told this publication that he is not happy and is adamant that he was not given a hearing because the process was not completed. He had demanded a recount and it was not done. The former BDP Youth Wing chairman is convinced that the Goodhope-Mabule BDP primary elections were rigged and the results should be nullified. He has indicated to his buddies that the fact that the verification process gave him extra votes more than any of the other candidates is an indication that he was the target of elimination in the election.

“He has told us that the BDP leaders are not willing to find a political solution to the impasse. He is wondering what they intend to do because the legal route does not favour the party at all because they have no leg to stand on,” said one of Motsaathebe’s close allies.

Indications are that Motsaathebe may plunge the BDP into a scenario similar to that created by White Marobela when he challenged the victory of Ignatius Moswaane in the Francistown West BDP primary elections.
A court intervention led to the BDP not contesting the bye-election which was ultimately won by the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) candidate, Dr Habaudi Hobona. BDP members in Goodhope-Mabule fear that Motsaathebe wants to block Molale from contesting the election on August 14th. They have challenged the party to close all legal gaps to ensure that Molale faces Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Comfort Molosiwa of the BCP.

Motsaathebe declined to comment on the subject, only indicating that the process of his appeal has not been completed.

WHAT MOTSAATHEBE WROTE ON HIS FACEBOOK WALL

“I have opted not to give any details regarding the status quo following the primary election at Goodhope Mabule. For the simple reason that the matter is before BDP structures and I am not a spokesperson of the BDP. It's sad how some people can exploit a person's circumstances for whatever reason! I am a loyal member of the BDP and will remain so forever! I have never on any way had what is said to be "ideas" of working with the opposition! Whatever decisions I take, are entirely within the constitution of the BDP and the best interest of the party and not mine or those of any particular group. As a loyal BDP member, I have and shall always urge democrats to remain loyal and support the BDP at all times! We have a bye election in the 15th August which must be won by the BDP and democrats have to work hard to achieve this and ignore any other attempts to distract us. I have always encouraged all those who voted for me, after thanking them and all other democrats who voted for other candidates, to unite, rally behind the BDP and not individuals, to ensure that the best interests of the BDP are promoted and protected! Goodhope Mabule is a BDP stronghold that has to return to the BDP on August the 15th. We all have a duty to protect our beloved BDP. I urge pleas with democrats to ignore any suggestions that I would sabotage an organization that I voluntarily joined in 1990. Democracy is paramount! I thank you all.”

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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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