Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said that government is not anti- workers as demonstrated by its attitude towards civil servants during the economic recession. He explained that Botswana government preserved civil servants’ jobs while other governments in different countries retrenching their employees.
Closing the debate on President Ian Khama’s State of Nation Address this week, Masisi told parliament that government continues to review the terms and conditions of service of civil servants with a view to improve them but noted that this should happen within the confines and limits of the economic performance.
Masisi said it was through government’s efforts in line with the International Labour Organizations (ILO) guidelines and international best practise that unionisation of much of the public service happened for the first time.
“Let parliament know that past transgressions from both sides have come and passed and now we offer to workers of Botswana a new deal- let us engage with mutual respect and work together to serve our nation,” he said.
Government has had a turbulent relationship with in the workers in the last few years resulting in the infamous 2011 public servants strike in which hundred thousands of employees took to the streets to protest government’s refusal to increase their salaries. In the ensuing circumstances government fired a significant number of employees, who were deemed to have breached their employment contracts.
However, Masisi said that withstanding, unlike many other jurisdictions around the world, including most of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) high income countries, Botswana did not respond to the economic downturn with either mass retrenchments or salary reductions in the public service.
“Instead we chose to protect jobs and cushion the effects of the crisis to Batswana, within our modest means. This underscores this administration’s commitment to upholding the dignity and welfare of its workers.”
Masisi said he is disappointed that Duma Boko, the Leader of Opposition dismissed in his statement the international accolades given to Botswana for good governance when it is clear that the studies are reputable as they rely on surveys of ordinary Batswana as well as domestic and international monitoring. “We want to take us back to the incident dating back to 2009 (Kalafatis murdering) that has long been addressed through the judicial process, and they accuse us of not coming up with nothing new.”
Masisi said he is of the firm believe that the past general elections were free and fair, despite opposition accusing BDP of using government media as a campaign tool. “As a legal professional, he (Boko) knows the legal definitions and framework of “free and fair” but in his submissions fails to elaborate the unfairness of the elections.” Masisi asserted that the international observers and the BDP are content with performance of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
The Moshupa-Manyana legislator said almost all MPs in parliament are direct beneficiaries of the exposure they got through the Department of Broadcasting Services prime debates for parliamentary candidates in each constituency. Masisi also argued that the arrangement was done in consultation with all political parties which took part in the general elections.
“I am surprised at the suggestion from some in this house that they did not receive BTV or radio coverage, as I recall seeing and hearing them myself. I wonder if they were confusing BTV and the Daily News for some other media whose political biases throughout the campaign were overt.”
Masisi, who is also the Minister of Education and Skills Development assured opposition MPs that government will work with them in an amicable way and will tolerate their ideas. He said that is the essence of democracy as it promotes tolerance and appreciation for opposition.
Masisi said opposition MPs have the tendency of overlooking the achievements of the BDP noting that the relocation of De Beers in partnership with Botswana government on diamond aggregation and sales from London to Botswana was a landmark achievement. Masisi said, it is a very complex process but it was carried ahead of schedule. “Such translocation from a developed to a developing world, from northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere remains unparalleled,” he contended.
Masisi also pointed out to the establishment of state-owned Okavango Diamond Company as a commitment to ensure that citizens benefit from the country’s mineral endowment. Masisi also revealed that government through Economic Development Drive (EDD) strategy has produced 28 000 jobs since 2010.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.