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Barolong Chief’s dilemma…

Lotlamoreng not sure whether to contest or not

Kgosi Lotlamoreng II of Barolong has said the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has not approached him in regard the prospect of him representing the party in a bye-election following a vacancy created by the resignation of James Mathokgwane as Member of Parliament for Goodhope-Mabule.  


Lotlamoreng is expected to address a kgotla meeting in Goodhope on Tuesday where he will clarify his standing as far as political party politics is concerned. “It is not true that I will represent the UDC in the coming bye-election. In fact I have not been approached by anyone from the UDC or any other political party,” he said.


Should the Barolong kgosikgolo decide to represent the UDC or any other political party, he will most likely to throw the Barolong bogosi into some dilemma. Traditional pundits in the area intimate that the fact that he has no direct heir complicates matters for the royal family. “It is very likely that the chieftainship of the Barolong will now go outside the Montshioa lineage,” said an elder in Goodhope.


At the Tuesday meeting, sentiments to be expressed by the chief are expected to echo the outcome of a consultation process that has been done with other magosi from around the twenty or so villages in the area. Lotlamoreng rules over a wide area which is made of small and big villages, and there is also a twist in his rule over Barolong, villages spanning from Mabule down southeast are under the Bangwaketse chieftainship according to the Tribal Territories Act.  


UDC official spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa made it clear that in terms of party constitution, regulations and culture, when a vacancy opens up for a position of a councillor or MP and the party decides to field a candidate,  a writ of election is issued by the Elections Board in consultation with the secretary general. 

He said “this allows any member who is willing to be deployed to apply. Thereafter if we have more than one comrade available, primary elections are held.”  Mohwasa said it is unfair to start attacking Kgosi Lotlamoreng when he has not declared his intention to run.  


Currently the Botswana National Front (BNF), an affiliate of the UDC has two councillors in the Goodhope-Mabule constituency while the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has eight councillors. Most BDP veterans in the constituency believe that they lost the MP seat because of the Kitso Mokaila factor; hence the race is going to be different this time around.


Lesego Molapo, who has been a BDP councillor for 25 years in the constituency, told Weekend Post that the area remains a BDP stronghold. She was confident that her party will win the bye-election because it has learnt from the 2014 general election loss.

Mr Klass Motingwa, a BNF veteran based in Goodhope urged his party leadership to hasten to get ordinary members in the loop because they are yet to briefed on the developments.

“We only read in the newspapers that the MP has resigned and we are yet to be briefed here in Ramatlabama,” he said. Both veterans from the two opposing corners await keenly Kgosi Lotlamoreng’s final word on talk that he could be a candidate for one of the parties.


For the BDP there are seven people who want contest primary elections. Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Eric Molale, who is also a Specially Elected Member of Parliament, is expected to be a strong contender.

Former BDP Youth Wing chairperson, Kenaleone Motsaathebe is contesting as well as a host of former councillors who lost in the 2014 elections. Therefore the BDP only wants to know if Lotlamoreng is in the race to map a campaign strategy against him.


Motingwa interestingly told WeekendPost that there was a group that engaged Freddie Ramodisa to contest for the position. “I heard that a group people had approached him to contest, I am still to hear about the outcome of their interaction,”he said.

Contacted for comment Ramodisa said he will not comment because he has no political party at the moment. Ramodisa was part of the group that defected from the BDP and formed the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), which is now an affiliate of the UDC.

Before the 2014 general election, he paved way for Mathokgwane of the BNF but was incensed when he was overlooked for council nomination and he contested as an independent candidate and lost. Carlson Teemane of Pitsane is one other BNF stalwart in the area whose name is mentioned by party sympathisers in the area.

While Lotlamoreng will bring a big profile and command audience there could be a backlash from those who have toiled for the BNF for many years in the area without success until messianic Mathokgwane capitalised on BDP frailties.


The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is yet to make an impact in the constituency, for them, contesting will only just enhance the country’s democratic credentials as usual, BNF and BDP veterans. However they do acknowledge the presence of BCP in Pitsane, Goodhope and Metlojane.  


Currently the main subject of the Goodhope-Mabule debate is Kgosi Lotlamoreng, should he take the baton, he may now have to face his demons in Ramatlabama where he is accused of imposing the late Kewagamang Lebelwane as chief despite not being of bogosi lineage.

In Papatlo, the chief is also not popular because of appointing an “outsider” as the village chief. In Goodhope, residents appear to have a gripe with him, should he be the candidate, BNF stalwarts admit that it will not be a roller coaster, “but he is the best we get under the circumstances.” They point out that a strategy should be mapped out on how to win the two Barolong sections, including the one under Bangwaketsi domain.


While the BDP currently has the advantage of sitting councillors, Lotlamoreng must first cultivate the buy-in of his magosi before he can bank on them. As things stand Lotlamoreng has not been apparoched but his Tuesday kgotla meeting has some of the answers.

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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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