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Tebelelo to challenge Masisi for presidency

Former Cabinet minister Tebelelo Seretse have confirmed that she may do the unthinkable and challenge Mokgweetsi Masisi for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) presidency in 2018.


Seretse’s supporters are pushing her to go against party tradition and contest for the top post of the ruling BDP in the special party congress leading to 2019 elections, WeekendPost can reveal.


This publication is in possession of an audio clip of a closed late night Saturday meeting, at Mmadinare, following the announcement of the Central Committee election results which saw Tebelelo suffer a mortifying 219 to 582 loss to Vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi.


Another contender in the race, Moemedi Dijeng came third with 69 votes; Ramadeluka Seretse managed only 57 votes while Biggie Butale came last with an appalling 23 votes.


Indications are that Tebelelo’s campaign team for the just ended congress unanimously supported the proposal that she contests the presidency in the coming congress (special). The special congress will follow the national congress which is scheduled for 2017 and will elect again, the new Central Committee, excluding the president.


In the audio clip, ululations are heard, followed by chants of “a e jeke Domkrag” when party veteran Daniel Kwelagobe announced that: “Tebelelo Seretse will be contesting for the presidency at the 2018 party special congress.”

President Lt. Gen. Ian Khama is expected to step down (in 2018) after 10 years (2 terms) as espoused by the constitution of the Republic.

The outspoken Seretse told this publication in a brief interview on Thursday that: “why not I will stand for the party presidency when they (followers) ask me to.”

Dijeng, Ramadeluka may support the group
Dijeng, who was also in attendance at the meeting, offered his allegiance to the group while efforts were at an advanced stage to lure Ramadeluka to the same camp. Ramadeluka previously refused to join the camp but it is believed his options are now limited to join forces after he came distant forth on the race.


Although it will be a historic move and, against party custom for the party presidency to be contested or challenged, article 29 of the BDP constitution provides for the party presidential election albeit automatic succession. Article 29.1 states that, “when the party is in power, the president of the party shall be elected by a secret ballot at the national congress of the party…”

In addition, article 29.2 posits that, “each region may nominate and submit one name of an aspiring candidate in good standing from any region to the Central Committee not less than 24 hours before the commencement of the national congress.”


“Any other member in good standing of the party may submit their name as an aspiring candidate for the post of president of the party to the Secretary General of the party, not less than 24 hours before commencement of the applicable national congress upon being sponsored, in writing, by not less than fifty delegates to the national congress,” highlights article 29.3 which Tebelelo’s group may be relying upon as per the party constitution.


Kwelagobe to lead and mobilise the fresh campaign.
According to the clandestine meeting, if push comes to shove, Kwelagobe would lead the campaign alone. This, according to the recording would be to protect other members, if they get threatened. Kwelagobe highlighted that he would take the campaign to newspapers and radio, emphasizing however that he would not insult anybody. “I will just express my feelings. I will work for the party like I have been doing.  This party is ours, it’s not for ‘someone’, we must therefore defend and protect the integrity of this party as it so deserves,” the BDP strongman declared.


The BDP former MP castigated those from their rival campaign especially in the Masisi camp which was said to have splashed money in Mmadinare, spending on booze and accommodation (tents) given to delegates. “So this is to encourage and recognise you, who stood for elections, those who voted without fear, although some were lured, as we know, with blankets and others but that we are used to and it doesn’t matter,” he highlighted.


The group further pledged it would lead the party in wards where it is invited, settling disputes even when not sanctioned by the party top brass. “Like Tebelelo said, we are there for you. If anyone has a problem at their ward and if anyone wants me to address a workshop or seminar at your ward I will do that. No one will stop me, or some of us, from doing that,” the BDP veteran declared in the underground gathering.


It was also no secret that Kwelagobe supported his prodigal son Botsalo Ntuane against Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri in the race for the position of Secretary General for the party. Ntuane amassed a landslide victory of 724 votes to 180 of the latter while another rival Olebeng Ngwakwena failed to canvass enough support for a nomination. Already observers say Kwelagobe is likely to influence and dominate Ntuane’s position at the team.

Secretary General is the third powerful position in the party after the President and Chairman.

Kwelagobe will serve as an additional member in the Central Committee, along with Nonofo Molefi, Botlogile Tshireletso, Unity Dow and Fidelis Molao.


In addition, President Ian Khama has appointed his brother Tshekedi Khama, Thato Kwerepe, Dimpho Moncho, Mmapula Phuduhudu and Mpho Balopi as ordinary members in the BDP central committee.
Group supports Fankie Motsaathebe for Goodhope/Mabule bye election.


The closed meeting also chastised Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration and Specially elected MP Eric Molale who has submitted his name, along with Fankie Motsaathebe and other three, for consideration of BDP primaries for the area that are slated for July 18. Other hopefuls include Phillip Sebakile, Kopo Mononi and Richard Mogatle.


Kwelagobe stated blatantly offered his support to Motsaathebe, “even as we go to Goodhope/Mabule constituency in Borolong I will go there but only if Fankie Motsaathebe is standing.” “As for the others I hear will stand, those were just handed Member of Parliament seat and given a ministerial position and are now saying they will leave those benefits to stand, no, those I will not support, go tell them,” the ad-hoc leader of the new group lamented.


“I won’t go there because they are toying with our minds. There are a lot of us democrats, even in Goodhope/Mabule (Borolong), there are is pull of Madomkrag who can stand for the party there. If someone is given a responsibility he should focus on it and leave others to take care of other responsibilities,” Kwelagobe, who lost in the 2014 General Elections to Dr. Tlamelo Mmatli of the Umbrella for Democratic Change albeit with a slim margin pointed out.


The BDP old-timer further added that, “we are told that he is contesting because he will be made Vice president. It is the only way he will contest because you need to have a constituency to be Vice president. If not why is he standing? Like I have been saying it’s your friends go tell them what I said here,” he declared.

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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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