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Tebelelo Seretse: Classic example of sidelining of women in Botswana politics


The only woman in the race for the BDP chairmanship seemingly remains unfazed by the drama and willy-dealing within that party. She is currently hot on the campaign trail and will push through the D-Day. In the societal context, she is a lily among thorns!

Tebelelo Seretse did not beat about the bush in making her intentions known about running for the BDP executive top post. Interestingly, it is not her first time running for that office. The last time she ran for that seat was in 2009 and she was defeated by Daniel Kwelagobe.

The clock is ticking fast and the tide is clearly shifting away from her.


Vice President Masisi has pulled all stops, apparently with the approval and assistance of President Khama, and is giving the other contenders a full run for their money. Some big-wigs and veterans at the party seem to also endorse Masisi by virtue of his being the hand-picked Vice President.

Seteng Motalaote has gone on to withdraw from the race, either because he feared the inevitable or as a sign of respect for the party leadership.  

Seretse, however, is not ready to bow out. Of all the candidates, Seretse stands out as the one with the most experience and knowledge of the inner workings of the party.
Undoubtedly, her party record is impressive.

Graduating from the BDP Youth Wing, Seretse was a member of the Central Committee who then went on to head the party’s Women’s Wing. A former Member of Parliament, she crowned her illustrious presence in the BDP with a diplomatic post to the United States – a country to which most countries always send their best, knowledgeable and most articulate representatives.

Now, Seretse is once again daring herself into a tough situation. Many people believe she is destined for yet another disappointment at the BDP’s congress coming in July.


But Seretse has never shied away from challenges; win or lose, she relishes a fair fight. She has lived for the party; she has long been a party activist and has significant strategies and achievements attributed to her within the BDP.


It is going to be a bruising fight.

The BDP Youth Wing, among other committees in the BDP, has pledged full support for Masisi. Most of the membership seems to have been swayed to the VP’s side, mostly because of his campaign machinery which has gone all out and did a masterful job.


There is no doubt, however, that Seretse would be a more fitting candidate and could possibly brew a shocker but, as always, being a woman, she is almost guaranteed to lose.


It would have been a very interesting race if Masisi had not ploughed into the race using the VP card.


Only two women, including Seretse herself, have tried before but no woman has ever held this position in the BDP.

Seretse was the first woman to try her luck in 2009 but lost to party veteran and former MP for Molepolole South, Daniel Kwelagobe.
More recently, Dr. Pelonomi Venson Moitoi also tried in 2012 but lost to one of BDP’s richest men, Samson Guma Moyo.

Botswana is one of Africa’s top performers in many governance indicators but has dragged its feet on women representation in politics. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Gender Gap Report and Index, the country has made great strides in achieving gender equality.

In 2014, Botswana ranked 51 out of 142 countries surveyed. In terms of female participation in the economy, it was ranked number 8 in the world; and with regard to equality of educational attainment, it stood at first place over five years.

That notwithstanding, Botswana has the lowest rate of participation and representation of women in politics in the Southern African Development Community region.


Botswana women held only 27 per cent of cabinet positions in 2002 – a low figure that further declined to 17 per cent in 2012, signifying a major reversal.


In 2014, the figure further decreased to less than 10%.

In parliament, women representation has since decreased from 18.2% in 2002 to the current 7%.

The BDP, being the dominant party, should demonstrate its support for women participation in politics and leadership. Technically, women in the BDP should stand a better chance to win, should they be afforded required support and opportunities.


It is sad that the BDP has denied women candidates like Bonolo Motsumi (who tried to become secretary general) and Dr. Margaret Nasha (who ran for the same post).
Now the same fate seems to be happening to Seretse.

None of the women who have contested have used the gender card, not that they should. As seen, Seretse’s resume speaks for itself, she has achieved as much, or even more than the other contenders, the VP included.

Ironically, only Daniel Kwelagobe has come out to openly pledge his support for Seretse. Gender activist and former Speaker of the National Assembly, Margaret Nasha, in a recent media report could not reveal who she supported but did align herself more with Seretse by indicating that suspicions that she could support Seretse, who is a woman like herself “could be true”.

After being elected Chairperson of the Women’s Wing, Dorcas Makgato did not want to speak openly about who her committee endorsed.
Seretse’s entry into the same race in 2009 was marked as historic in the party books and yet the BDP does not seem to be in any mood to make actual history with Seretse.

Not surprisingly, however, the Botswana government has not ratified the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and this has been interpreted as government’s lack of commitment to women’s rights and their participation in politics.

In Articles 4, 12 and 13 of the SADC Gender Protocol on Gender and Development, adopted by SADC Heads of State and Government in August 2008,emphasis is placed on the importance of a “50:50 target” on representation of women and men in politics and decision making positions in SADC.



“Enhancing Political representation of women requires changes within the political party systems, national policies and the legal framework to allow for the inclusion of women,” wrote Keneilwe Mooketsane in a 2014 BIDPA Policy Brief, Gender and Political Representation in Botswana.

“The creation of opportunities for representation of women or the provision of political space for decision making does not necessarily translate into political influence or gender equity policies particularly in an environment where the government is yet to inculcate a gender sensitive perspective in its policy making. However, it would be a commendable effort and a starting point towards political empowerment of women.”

The BDP will hold its elective congress in Mmadinare this July. MP Biggie Butale, former MPs Ramadeluka Seretse and Tebelelo Seretse, Moemedi Dijeng, Dithapelo Tshotlego and Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi are contesting for the hot seat.

Masisi, the latest entrant in the race, is expected to automatically succeed President Khama as Head of State when the President retires in 2018.

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Details emerge in suspected Batswana poachers in Namibia

28th June 2022
suspected Motswana poacher arrested

New details about a suspected Motswana poacher arrested in Namibian and his accomplice who is on the run were revealed when the suspect appeared in court this week.

The Motswana Citizen who was shot and wounded by Namibia’s anti poaching unit is facing criminal charges under criminal case number (CR NO 10/06/2022) which was registered at the Divundu Police Station in the Mukwe constituency of the Kavango East Region on 10 June 2022.

It is alleged that a patrol team laid an ambush after discovering a giraffe’s fresh carcass in a snare wire and hanging biltong.  According to the Charge Sheet, the suspect Djeke Dihutu, aged 40 years, is charged with contravening and transgressions of Nature Conservation Ordinance andcontravening Immigration Act 07 in Mahango Wildlife Core Area, Bwabwata National Park. Dihutu’s first court appearance was on the 17th of June 2022, Rundu and it was postponed to the 07 July 2022. He is currently hospitalized in hospital under Police Guards.

Commenting on this latest development, the Namibian Lives Matter Movement National Chairperson Sinvula Mudabeti applauded the Namibian Anti Poaching Unit for its compliance with what it called the universal instrument on the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/169.

“We are aware that the duties of the police carry a great deal of risk, but our police has shown that they have a moral calling and obligation to protect even foreigners suspected of serious crimes on Namibian soil,” said Mudabeti.

According to him, whereas the Botswana Police Service, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS) have “very low moral ethics, integrity, accountability and honesty, the Namibian security agencies has shown very high levels of ethical leadership in the discharge of their duties even under duress.”

He said Namibian’s anti poaching unit has exercised one very important value, that is, the use of force only when it is reasonable and necessary. Mudabeti said this is in harmony with international best practices as enshrined in Article 2 of the UN instrument on law enforcement conduct, “In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.

Our police have protected the life of a Botswana poacher and accorded him dignity, which is very foreign to our Botswana counterparts,” he said. He said article 3 of the same instrument above, calls for Law enforcement officials to use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.

“This provision emphasizes that the use of force by law enforcement officials should be exceptional; while it implies that law enforcement officials may be authorized to use force as is reasonably necessary under the circumstances for the prevention of crime or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of suspected offenders, no force going beyond that was used by our Police,” he said.

Furthermore, Mudabeti said, whereas the universally accepted norm of the law of proportionality ordinarily permits the use of force by law enforcement, it is to be understood that such principles of proportionality in no case should be interpreted to authorize the use of force which is disproportionate to the legitimate objective to be achieved.

“Our police have used force proportional to the situation at hand. Great work indeed! Article 6 urges law enforcement officials to ensure the full protection of the health of persons in their custody and, in particular, shall take immediate action to secure medical attention whenever required,” he said.

Mudabeti said the Botswana poacher was immediately taken to hospital whereas the Nchindo brothers who were captured on Namibian soil, beaten, tortured and executed while pleading to be taken to the hospital we left to die.

“The Namibian Doctor gave evidence in court that Sinvula Munyeme’s lungs showed signs of life (during the autopsy) and that he could have survived if he was accorded immediate medical assistance in time but was left to die while BDF soldiers looked and possibly ignored his cry for help,” he said.

Mudabeti said unlike in Botswana where there are no clear separation of powers between the BDF, Botswana Police Service, Department of Intelligence and their Directorate of Public Prosecutions,” we have a system that allows for checks and balances and allows our people and foreigners who are found on the wrong side of the law to be accorded the right to a fair trial.”

He said Botswana citizens are treated with dignity when apprehended in Namibia and not assaulted, tortured and executed. “We are a civilized country that respects international law in dealing with non-Namibian criminals. The Namibian Police have not mistreated the Botswana poacher but have given him the benefit of the doubt by allowing due processes of the law to be followed,” he said.

He added that, “We are a peace loving nation that has not repaid Botswana by the evil that Botswana has done to Namibia by killing more than 37 innocent and unarmed Namibians by the trigger happy BDF.” He concluded that, “Our acts of mercy in arresting Botswana citizens should never be mistaken for cowardice.”

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Gov’t, Unions clash over accommodation

28th June 2022
accomodation

The government has reportedly taken a decision to terminate provision of pool housing and subsidy for civil servants as it attempts to trim the public service wage bill.

This emerges in a dispute that is currently before the Labour Office headquarters lodged by unions representing thousands of civil servants across the country. This publication understands that the decision to cease providing pool housing and rental subsidy for public officers is part of proposals that government put on the table during its negotiations with public service unions in order for it to adjust salaries.

A letter from Labour Office addressed to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) shows that the directorate is cited as the First Respondent. The letter is titled, “Dispute lodged: Cessation of provision of pool housing and subsidy for pubic officers.”

“This serves as a notification and requirement to a mediation hearing,” the letter informed DPSM. According to the letter, the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Unions (BOSETU) Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) and Botswana Land Board &Local Authorities &Health workers Union (BLLAHW) who lodged the complaint are cited as the Applicant.

“Please come for mediation hearing. The hearing will be conducted by Mr Lebang. The hearing is scheduled for date/time 29th June 2022, 09: 00HOURS at Block 8 District Labour Office, Gaborone. Please bring all relevant documents,” reads the letter in part.

According to a document described as a proposal paper on the negotiations on salaries and other conditions of employment of public officers by the employer (government), the government did not only propose to stop providing accommodation to civil servants but also put a number of proposals on the table.

The proposal papers states that the negotiations (which have since been concluded) cover three government financial years; 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25. The government proposed an across the board salary adjustments as follows; 3% for the financial year 2022/23 effective 1st April 2022, across the board salary adjustment of 3.5% for the financial year 2023/24 effective 1st April 2023 subject to performance of the economy and across the board salary adjustment of 4% for the financial year 2024/25 effective 1st April 2024 subject to performance of the economy.

The government also proposed phasing out of retention and attractive (Scarce Skills) Allowance with a view to migration towards clean pay, renegotiate and set new timelines for all outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement, executed by the employer and trade unions on the 27th August 2019, to ensure proper sequencing, alignment and proper implementation.
The government also proposed to freeze public service recruitment for the 2022/23 financial year and withdraw the financial equivalence of P500 million attached to vacancies from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).

Another proposal included phasing out of commuted overtime allowance and payment of overtime in accordance with the law and review human resource policies during the financial year 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The government argued that its proposals were premised on affordability and sustainability adding that it was important to underscore that the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers was taking place at a time when there were uncertainties both in the global and domestic economies.

“Furthermore there is need to ensure that any collective labour agreement that is concluded does not breach the fiscal deficit target of 4% of GDP,” the proposal paper stated. The proposal paper further indicated that beyond salary adjustments, the Government of Botswana is of the view that a more comprehensive consideration “must be taken on the issue of remuneration in the public service by embracing principles such as total rewards compensation which involves taking a fully comprehensive and holistic approach to how our organization compensates employees for the work.”

The proposal paper also noted that, “Clearly, the increase in salaries and changes to other conditions of service which have monetary consequences will further increase the proportion of the budget taken by salaries, allowances and other monetary based conditions of services.”

“The consequential effect would be a reduction of the portion that can be used for other recurrent budget needs (e.g. maintenance of assets, consumable supplies such as medicines and books) and for development projects,” the proposal states.

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BPF NEC probes Serowe squabbles

28th June 2022
BPF

Opposition Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) National Executive Committee will in no time investigate charges party members worked with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) membership to tip the scales in favour of the latter for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship in exchange for deputy seat in a dramatic 11th hour gentleman’s deal, leaving the ruling party splinter under the political microscope.

In a spectacular Sub-council election membership last Thursday, the ruling BDP’s Lesedi Phuthego beat Atamelang Thaga with 14 votes to 12 for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship coveted seat and subsequently the ruling party’s councilor Bernard Kenosi withdrew his candidacy in the final hour for the equally admired deputy chair paving the way for Solomon Dikgang of BPF, seen as long sealed ‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’ gentleman’s agreement between the contenders.

Both parties entered the race with a tie of votes torn between 12 councillors each, translating for election race that will go down to the wire definitely. But that will not be the case as two BPF councilors shifted their allegiance to the ruling party during the first race for Chairmanship held in a secret ballot and no sooner was the election concluded then the ruling party answered back by withdrawing its candidacy for the deputy chair position to give BPF’s Dikgang the post on a silver platter unopposed.

BPF councilor Vuyo Notha confirmed the incident in an interview on Wednesday, insisting the party NEC was determined to “investigate the matter soon”. “During the race for the Chairmanship, two more BPF voted for alongside the ruling party membership. It was clear Dikgang voted alongside the BDP as immediately after the vote for Chairmanship was concluded, Kenosi withdraw his candidacy to render Dikgang unopposed as a payback,” Notha added.

As for the other vote, Makolo ward councilor will not be drawn for the identity preferring instead to say: “BPF NEC will convene all the councilors to investigate the matter soon and we will take from there.” Notha will also not be drawn to conclude may be the culprit councilors could have defected to the ruling party silently.

“If they are no longer part of us they should say so and a by-election be called,” was all he could say. As it stands now, the law forbids sitting Councilors and Parliamentarians from crossing the floor to another party as to do so will immediately invite for a new election as dictated by the law. Incumbent politicians will therefore dare not venture for the unknown with a by-election that could definitely cost their political life and certainly their full benefits.

Notha could also not be dragged to link the culprit councilors actions to BPF Serowe region Chairperson Tebo Thokweng who has silently defected to the ruling party and currently employed by the party businessman and former candidate for Serowe West Moemedi Dijeng as PRO for the highly anticipated cattle abattoir project in Serowe.

“As for Thokweng he has not resigned from the party but from the region’s chairmanship,” he said. WeekendPost investigations suggest Thokweng is the secret snipper behind the recruitment drive of the votes for the elections and is determined to tear the party dominance in Serowe and the neighbouring villages asunder including in Palapye going forward.

This publication’s investigations also show BPF’s Radisele and UDC’s Mokgware/Mogome councilors are under the radar of investigations for the votes-themselves associated with the workings and operations of Thokweng.

“NEC will definitely leave no stone unturned with their investigations to get into the bottom of the matter. Disciplinary actions will follow certainly,” Notha concluded, underscoring the need to toe the party line to set a good precedent. For the youthful councilor, the actions of his peers has set a wrong precedent which has to be dealt with seriously to deter future culprits.

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