The election is over. Congratulations to Batswana who made their voice heard. The voice was clear and as is the case, the voice of the people is the voice of God. So it is clear what God is saying to us. We must heed this ominous message. Batswana have been ready for change of government for at least the past fifteen years.
What has impeded this change is clear; failure by the opposition parties to work together despite having same ideology and same policies and belonging together. God hates divisions especially those motivated by selfishness and He says ‘a divided house… will not stand’. Motlhalefi mongwe o kile a bua are a ba ba sentseng ba baakanye.
BNF take over of government in 1999 was eminent. Everyone who cared was aware of it and BDP was extremely concerned about this prospect. Mysteriously and timely for BDP, BCP was born. This gave BDP an undeserved new lease of life that denied Batswana an opportunity to experience a new government. It has happened again this year; BDP is back in power thanks to same selfish tendencies. Combined opposition would have easily secured over 30 seats in parliament.
It is extremely disappointing that after the people for the first time have spoken so eloquently through the ballot box, that they want BCP to be part of the UDC, BCP leader and some of his cohorts are now telling Batswana that they did not make a mistake by pulling out of the UMBRELLA TALKS. They are happy to go it alone. Clearly they are not able to listen and understand the voice of the people and hence the voice of God.
The BCP language is not changing. It is the same language they used when BCP was formed. They vowed and bragged then with the same arrogance that they displayed at the rally they held in old Naledi on Sunday. In 1998 and subsequent years they openly bragged that they did not need BNF to win and will never work with BNF.
On Sunday they were on a warpath again saying they cannot be part of the UDC formation. Ao batho! Is this not strange coming from a party that sponsored the Umbrella model (during the first opposition cooperation talks) as the only viable model for opposition cooperation and pact model as a none starter?
Is it not strange coming from a party that started the umbrella talks with other opposition parties and said any party that walks away from the Umbrella talks should be punished by the voters? Is it not strange coming from a leader who walked away from the same talks on account of disagreement on allocation of two constituencies and then wanted a pact with BNF instead? Is it not strange that the same leader after being severely punished by the voters as per his own instruction is now blaming UDC for the voters who exercised their democratic right to punish him and his party?
Is it not strange that Mr. Saleshando is now saying he wants to consult on the model of cooperation, which model he introduced in 2004 and continued to champion in 2011? Is it not strange that he is now saying UDC is the same as BDP? Batswana can read between the lines. We are not stupid. The voters are saying to you, ‘if you do not want to cooperate with others, good luck to you, but we will punish you even more severely next time’.
BCP likes to play with statistics. They see themselves as the fastest growing party in the land and therefore they think they will eventually win without the other parties. Mr. Saleshando likes talking about these numbers. I want to tell him that statistics can lie big time. Statistics will tell you whatever you want to hear and Mr. Saleshando with respect must know that.
Let the following numbers from these elections talk to you for a minute;
Description No of voters Percentage (%)
Eligible voters 1,500,000 100%
People who registered to vote 824,000 55%
People who voted for BDP 321,000 21%
People who voted for UDC s 207,000 14%
People who voted for BCP 141,000 9%
People who voted for Mekoko & spoilt votes 30,000 2%
People who voted 699,000 47%
People who registered and not voted 125,000 8%
People who did not register to vote 676,000 45 %
Total people who did not vote 801,000 53%
These numbers show another story that is being ignored by all the political parties. There are 1,500,000 eligible voters in Botswana. Just fewer than 700,000 voted. Over 800 000 (53%) of eligible voters did not vote (only 47 % voted). There are three groups of people IEC and the opposition parties should be concerned about. These are:
People who did not register (676,000)
People who registered but did not vote (125, 000)
People who voted for independents (Mekoko) and spoilt votes (30,000).
Until you significantly reach these people, the talk of growth is hollow. I suggest that all the parties through parliament, should demand that IEC as part of their mandate, should conduct a basic study to determine why people did not register in such large numbers, why so many people who registered did not vote, why did we have so many independents and spoilt votes? This will help the IEC and the political parties to shape their strategies and prepare for the next elections.
My guess is that the people who did not register could not be bothered because they believed their vote would not make any difference in their lives. Their vote would not change the status quo. They did not believe the opposition was ready to lead this country.
Some were disappointed with the infighting within the opposition parties especially BNF and failure by BCP to join UDC. Some could perhaps not tolerate the long lines and inconvenience associated with queuing for registering and voting.
For the people who registered and did not register, it could be a result of our rigid electoral system that requires that you vote where you registered. People especially the unemployed move regularly from district to district in search for jobs and this requirement does restrict and disenfranchise many.
For the many independents and spoilt votes, it is most probably driven by poor internal party democracy and in some cases selfishness and unwillingness to accept defeat. Spoilt votes are most probably due to ignorance and or anxiety by these voters and IEC should find workable strategies to address to address this.
The question that should be at the lips of all the political parties should be, what should we do to get the 801,000 people to register and vote for us? For the opposition, they have their work cut out for them. There must unite under the Umbrella.
BCP in particular must swallow its pride, stop accusing UDC for their failure and stop trivilising the issues by saying they are the only party concerned about job creation, education for production, low wages and painting UDC as the same as BDP. This is cheap and will get BCP deep in the mud.
The majority (54%) of those who voted chose the opposition. The fact that the ruling party got only 46 % of the voters and is leading the country is not only an indictment on our ill-advised electoral system but also on the opposition parties who failed to unite.
Those who think there is some difference between UDC and BCP must think again. They all believe in social democracy. Their policies are the same and mainly drawn from BNF. The only notable difference is their party colours. The other differences are artificial and personal mainly driven by egocentric pride and intoxicating desire to be in front (lead) at the exclusion of others.
In conclusion UDC must remain focused on consolidating its gains under the Umbrella. The focus on individual parties must slowly fade away. UDC must with humility and strength of character continue to work towards bringing BCP to join the UDC.
They must continue to bring non aligned people to their ranks. The principled stand demonstrated by its leader DGB will bring in more people under the Umbrella shelter. Any other model other than the Umbrella will be retrogressive and must be rejected outright.
UDC must be careful of Khama’s friendly gestures. These gestures are most likely meant to derail UDC from its focus. Any dealings with Khama must be based on principle and clear conditions set out for any envisaged engagement. The confusion, Khama has already created in parliament by taking parliament to court is a clear indication that Khama cannot be trusted.
We look up to UDC and DGB to closely mark Khama to protect the interest of our people and our country. If it means bringing Khama to his knees before 2019, so be it. Good luck to all the parties and all Batswana as we start the march towards 2019.
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.”