President Lt Gen Ian Khama has dismissed as utter nonsense and misinformed, speculation that the new Vice President, Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi is only standing in for his brother, Tshekedi Khama.
The President is of the view that the same lies were pedddled about him during his days at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), during the tenure of former presidents, Festus Mogae and Sir Ketumile Masire.
In an exclusive and revealing interview with Weekendpost, Khama expressed shock that some people have developed a tendency to attempt to read his mind and foretell his next moves – the problem, he says is that they end up misleading the nation and tarnishing his good name.
President Khama said his administration is committed to serve with truth and commitment. He rubbished theories that Masisi is only standing in for Tshekedi, “why would we do that, why will he stand in for Tshekedi, look Masisi is capable just like a lot of BDP MPs and I trust that he will do a good job, he is not standing in for anyone,” he said.
Asked why Masisi of all the MPs, Khama becomes tries to be politically correct. “I don’t want to go in that, but I want to emphasis that it could have been anyone else in the BDP, its just that there can only be one Vice-President,” he said. The President further added that Masisi has an impressive track record as a Minister. According to the President, Masisi is Botswana’s next president. “Things will evolve,” he added.
Nasha is finally out of the picture after a protracted battle that was punctuated by court interventions. If some reports are to be taken seriously there were backstage arm swindling between the former Speaker and the President.
Is Khama happy that Nasha is finally out? Khama responds, “Happy, about what? I am actually unhappy at how things have ended”. Khama continues: “For some reasons Nasha chose to be confrontational, rebellious and hostile. I know why but I will not move to divulge the reasons.”
Pressed further Khama said, “Nasha approached me and wanted some things I could not accede to. She then moved on to vilify me.” Nasha however challenges Khama to reveal those things. “He can’t divulge them because they are non-existant. I challenge him to reveal them and that is when I will respond to you,” she said in a clarity-seeking interview with Weekend Post.
Insiders say the issue was that Nasha wanted an independent Parliament free from the control of the Executive. Nasha has revealed that she often refused some orders from the Executive and the Attorney General. Nasha said a case in point is the just ended court case in which the Attorney General wanted her to scrap off sections of the standing orders calling for a secret ballot. The Court of Appeal upheld Nasha’s decision.
Meanwhile President Khama says he has no reason to hate Nasha, “look I am the one who made Nasha a Minister, and it was under my Presidency that we elected her to a position of a Parliament Speaker after she notified me of her National Assembly Speaker ambition. I nodded to her ambition because we also wanted gender balance among other issues.”
Khama does not want to dwell on his latest working relation with Nasha but is quick to point out that, “I have been behind her throughout until of recent when she said nasty things about me.” The rivalry, Khama says, thicked when Nasha heard that Kokorwe will be nominated to replace her. “She rebelled against me and did despicable things,” says the President.
The BDP has got its way at the National Assembly contrary to some people’s hopes. They have unanimously and effortlessly elected their preffered Speaker and Deputy and further endorsed President Khama’s choice of Vice President. This followed a notorious court battle over the National Assembly standing orders on the type of election method to be used.
When asked to explain why the country had to endure such a ‘laughable and ridiculous’ case – to borrow from Nasha’s words – President Khama said, “Let me explain that because we have been abused on that case.
The truth of the matter is that someone I would not reveal his identity confided to me that some people want to challenge the said standing orders and I approached the Attorney General and the party lawyer, Parks Tafa about the matter and it was agreed that we had to clear the matter before the courts to avoid any embarrassment after we had made our elections and everything,” he said.
According to Khama, Tafa and the Attorney General had no case but just wanted to clear the ground. The submissions raised by the Attorney General and the BDP lawyer, Tafa who argued at length the case and even went as far as appealing, were that the standing orders are unconstitutional and that they may plunge this country into a constitutional crises.
The confusing part however is that Nasha speaks a totally different story to the case. She has revealed that the Attorney General had prior to the case requested her to put aside the standing orders under question and she refused.
The story according to Khama is that on the 23rd of October he heard that the elections may be challenged as unconstitutional. Khama says he later learnt that the matter was blown out of proportion.
“For the record I am one of those people who support the secret ballot system. I actually wanted it to be upheld because people were saying these are internal BDP wars playing themselves out at their expense. The BDP decision at parliament to vote unanimously without anyone monitoring or intimidating them has shown that we are a united party as shown by our votes,” he said.
The BDP has voted as per the caucus resolutions and only one member defied the caucus and voted for Nasha. Nasha has revealed that she doesn’t blame the MPs for not voting for her as they had to endure unbearable fire to vote her out.
Khama has met with the opposition parties leader, Duma Boko and pleaded with him to ensure a good working relationship. The President has also pledged to work with the opposition in good faith.
Much, however, has been said about Khama’s commitment to his word owing to failure to keep previous promises to the opposition. What is wrong? Khama blames the opposition. “We must work together for the betterment of this nation.
The problem comes when they find solace in attacking me at any given opportunity, that is not how a team works. The Khama bashing must stop and be replaced with a constructive and noble exchange of ideas,” Khama proposes.
Saleshando speaks over Masisi Botswana Congress Party leader, Dumelang Saleshando says the nation has to respect Khama’s decision to appoint Masisi as his vice,adding that as the president one chooses the person he thinks he can best work better with.
He said the vice president however has to be a man who is ,among other attributes, ,tolerant,honest,patriotic ,selfless and astute. Asked if he honestly thinks Masisi posseses those qualities,Shaleshando said ‘unfortunately no.’
“Look ,i have interacted with Masisi a couple of times and i don’t think he can advice the president.I think he lacks the necessary charactristic of a person ideal for that position but like i say we have to respect the president’s choice and give them a chance,” he said.
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.
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.
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.”