Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) has expressed optimism that the new Minister of Education and Skills Development, Dr Unity Dow will take the troublesome ministry to new heights despite the fact that her predecessors endured a niggling tenure with the unions.
BTU Secretary General, Ibo Kenosi revealed that, the teacher unions had a meeting with Dow where they outlined the concerns facing the teaching sector and she seemed engrossed in resolving some of the issues.
“The minister is positive about the issues that we relayed to her and has proposed for a meeting in the near future to discuss matters affecting the teaching fraternity in detail. We are hopeful she will be able to resolve these issues- she is an intelligent person- at least based on her professional background and her achievements,” he said.
Kenosi also stated that they had not been able to meet Dow’s predecessor Masisi during his tenure. Masisi had a short spell as the minister; his better time at the ministry was spent in acting capacity.
Dow was appointed a full cabinet minister by President Ian Khama in the cabinet re-shuffling which saw Member of Parliament for Moshupa-Manyana Mokgweetsi Masisi fully assuming the duties of vice presidency. Masisi was appointed Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development last in year in an unsual re-shuffle that saw the then Minister of Education Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi be given a special assignment outside cabinet with the expectation that she will return back to the ministry to execute her duties.
However, following the 2014 general elections, Venson-Moitoi was moved to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Affairs.
The post Jacob Nkate era could be defined as the most difficult time in education as the union representing teachers and government were always at odds. By the time Venson-Moitoi bowed out of the ministry the relationship had not yet been restored.
The unveiling of events started in 2010, ahead of the Junior Certificate (JC) examination in which teachers refused to invigilate the examinations after they failed to reach an agreement over the payment. Parliament initiated a commission of inquiry after the results were released, with some doubting the credibility of the examination.
The committee chaired by former Permanent Secretary, Keetla Masogo, was tasked to investigate the examination scandal. Its mission was to establish the events leading to the conduct of the 2010 examinations, determine the extent to which the different stakeholders contributed towards the impasse, establish the appropriateness of their actions and recommend a sustainable solution to avoid a repeat of the debacle.
During the 2010 examination scandal, teachers refused to submit the coursework marks for students, resulting with marking which left out part of the critical final examination component, this further lent credence to those who doubted the credibility of the examinations.
While reeling from ignominy the of the examination scandal, the education sector had to endure an even more painful experience when teachers joined other civil servants to go on the 2011 Industrial Strike which was led by Botswana Federation of Public Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) an umbrella union to all unions representing government employees. The strike which lasted three months saw students spending significant time not attending classes, hitting negatively on the 2011-2012 students result both for JC and BGCSE.
However, BTU is of the view that, although Venson-Moitoi presided over matters that led to crises during her tutelage she had her own achievements and proved that she had teachers’ interest at heart though she was not able to do enough. Kenosi said Venson-Moitoi was the first minister to heed to level of operation calls from the unions which called for same salary for similar qualification in the education sector.
Some of the problems which BTU leadership is expected to discuss with Minister Dow are shortage of accommodation for teachers, class sizes, resources in schools, hours of work in the teaching service, levels of operation implementation challenges, water crisis and status of sectoral engagements among other things. Kenosi revealed that 3100 qualified teachers are currently unemployed, yet the schools are staffed with unqualified temporary teachers.
BTU Publicity Secretary Tidimalo Maeletso warned that if negotiation with government regarding education sector fails, they would resort to other means including striking. Maeletso said failure to reach an agreement would lead to a situation similar to that of 2010, in which teachers refused to submit course work marks for final examination.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.