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The 2014 general election: revolution v counter-revolution


The emerging resistance movement for democratic restoration, economic revival, clean governance started with civil society resisting both the formation of the DIS and the new media regulatory structures in 2008. It gained momentum with the Barata Phati faction sweeping the BDP’s central committee election at the Kanye congress in 2009 (the same faction that later established the Botswana Movement for Democracy-BMD actually defeated President Khama’s all women team!), and with Secretary General Gomolemo Motswaledi taking President Khama to court that ended with the former’s recall.

The resistance movement gained ground with the expulsions and resignations of Motswaledi’s supporters that led to the party split in 2010, with the public servants strike that ended with calls for regime change in 2011, with the all-inclusive negotiations among opposition parties that ended with the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

The release of Margret Nasha’s book Madam Speaker Sir that ended with the Khama regime preventing her from observing the South African elections in early 2014, was followed by the widespread suspicions that Motswaledi’s fatal car accident was staged by some public security forces working with Israeli consultants.

The revelations concerning the possible existence of a hit list of opposition candidates facing assassination during the political campaign added its weight to the resistance movement, followed with a public media blackout on Motswaledi’s hugely attended funeral in Serowe, by former Presidents Masire and Mogae openly criticizing the Khama regime of intolerance and of diverging away from the rule of law that Botswana was known for, all culminated  into a showdown in the October 2014 general election.

The self-declared forces (represented by the UDC) of the restoration of democratic rule and good governance, stood against the BDP under Ian Khama that was portrayed as intolerant and as champion of authoritarian rule, and against the opposition BCP that was portrayed as betraying the struggle in favor of the BDP.  


In some strong sense, the 2014 election was not a normal election. Coming from the resistance movement for democratic restoration, for economic revival, and for clean governance, the forces of resistance (civil society, public sector unions, private media, social media, and opposition political parties) unleashed revolutionary energy, aimed at sweeping away BDP rule that had perceivably become authoritarian, militaristic, corrupt, arrogant and unable to take the economy forward.

True to Skocpol (1979)’s ‘states and social revolutions’ that tied revolutionary success to international support and to defections in the military,  the revolutionary coalition for democratic restoration, for good governance and economic revival, was able to attract international sympathy and support.

With international assistance from the southern Africa region (Khama’s foreign policy in the region characterized by his stand off against Mugabe’s heavy-handed electioneering in Zimbabwe in 2008 was unsettling to say the least and was opposed by most ruling parties in the region) and from overseas (his threat to arrest  President Al Bashir of Sudan in case he visited Botswana, his seemingly deliberate absence from AU summits of head s of states, his uncharacteristic support for the International Criminal Court-ICC, and his government’s public sparring with the American Government over comments concerning the arrest of a newspaper editor), revolutionary energy that expressed itself through the UDC and equally through the public sector trade unions,  private media and social media (particularly Facebook), mounted a spirited campaign that took President Khama by surprise and Botswana by storm.

Hugely organized group launches were organized for UDC candidates with glamorous tents from South Africa and elsewhere, with glamorous presidential buses, and with privately owned helicopters chartered to transport the UDC leader in order to help him look presidential, were deployed.

A private radio station, GABZ FM (with support from trade unions and from the American and British embassies) organized constituency debates and presidential debates revolutionized Botswana’s electoral democracy, were aired nationally and were attended by UDC and BCP candidates and were boycotted by the BDP. In contrast, the privately owned newspapers made a sustained attack on the alleged corruption practices of the DIS boss, disabling him from leading his spy agency into helping President Khama’s campaign.


Realizing late that revolutionary energy had been unleashed to sweep away his rule and facing regime change in the face, President Khama abandoned his earlier position of normal politics of keeping a low profile, re-launched all BDP parliamentary and council candidates across the country and made second and third visits to many constituencies and wards, transported his supporters in army helicopters and flew all over the country, employed public facilities to clear bushes to create open spaces for his political rallies, danced and rode bicycle in opposition strongholds, made no attempt to restrain some of his activists who had resorted to violent means (including house break-ins and mugging) to intimidate opposition candidates.

In short, President Khama mounted a counter-revolutionary campaign spiced with threats of war should his party lose, talks of him going to prison should the opposition win, the hiring of Israeli consultants for unspecified clandestine works, the use of army helicopters to visit several constituencies a number of times, targeted verbal attacks on certain UDC candidates, the use of threatening telephone calls by unknown callers, the use of dances and bicycle rides.


Unbeknown to Khama, an organized faction within the ruling party engineered (through rigging and other means) the loss in the party primary elections and in the general elections, of important people (particularly those with military background to prevent them from being considered for position of vice president), and the emending of parliamentary rules to require booth for the secret voting in Parliament for the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Vice President.

Thus, President Khama was facing revolutionary pressures from several fronts: from a broad-based opposition coalition enjoying regional and international support (including from ruling parties in the region), from the private media, from social media, and a revolt from within his own party from an organized faction that wanted to influence who becomes vice president. But at the end of it all, the counter-revolution was partly successful and President Khama was re-elected to start his second term as president.

While President Khama’s ruling party survived and won the elections (it actually lost the popular vote and a number of seats previously held by ministers), the opposition BCP was swept away by the democratic revolutionary current and by the counter-revolution.  


The BCP never saw the revolutionary current. Neither did it see the counter-revolution that actually reversed all previous BCP gains. As a result, it never prepared for either. Being outside both, the BCP saw a normal election in which it (BCP) was destined to win power alone and to embarrass the UDC coalition!

When the whole nation was either in the democratic resistance movement of the UDC or in the counter-revolution of the BDP, the BCP’s darkened vision saw normal electioneering in which the results of the 2009 election could be relied upon to make ‘safe’ predictions of its win, in which its president could ‘safely’ walk out of Motswaledi’s heavily politicized funeral in Serowe, in which it could create artificial distance between itself and the UDC in constituency and presidential debates, in which it could deploy its president to traverse the country campaigning for his candidates in the ‘safe knowledge’ that his constituency was safe, in which it could deploy one presidential bus to drive around the whole country.

In short, the BCP organized for a normal election, not for a revolutionary current nor for a counter-revolution, both of which threatened its existence. The BCP was swept away partly by the revolution that it refused to join, and partly by the counter-revolution that rode on its back for survival. The BCP became a victim of circumstances which its visionaries failed to see and which its policy makers failed to prepare for.

Humbled by the humiliating loss of constituencies and wards, the BCP has woken up, not to join the revolutionary current, not to fight the counter-revolution, but to fight lies! Seeing neither the revolution nor the counter-revolution, the BCP has unleashed its activists to attack the UDC, the private media, the social media, and the public sector trade unions! With the BDP-controlled executive shifting the counter-revolution against Parliament, BCP is provided with a rare opportunity to join the revolution, or miss another chance presented by history and risk being swept away completely. In contrast, will the UDC survive if it promises to work cooperatively with the Executive championing counter-revolution? It is in order for the UDC to be cautious in cooperating with the counter-revolutionary forces.

Zibani Maundeni is professor of political science at the University of Botswana
 

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Government ignores nurses’ COVID-19 anxieties

4th August 2021
Nurses

Health workers are at the front line fighting the deadly, contagious COVID-19. These workers have an immense challenge of welfare and government has since turned a blind eye to dares and crushing odds throttling health officers, particularly nurses.

Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) has once more called on government to invest in the country’s nurses and give the nursing profession dignity.

In May 2020, BONU President, Obonolo Rahube said government should, in line with the advocacy of World Health Organisation (WHO) invest more on nurses and midwives, and further advised government to address challenges that nurses are faced with. The proposal was made on International Nurses Day.

At the time, Rahube urged government to provide subsidised accommodation for nurses and midwives as it has emerged that during the fight against the Corona-virus, accommodation for nurses and midwives is very important. Rahube called on government to provide nurses and midwives with 100% medical cover.

He also called on government to introduce risk allowance for nurses and midwives, noting that as frontline workers during the pandemic, they are at high risk. Nurses also demanded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), a matter which they lost with costs in court. Also critical during the COVID-19 era for health workers, psychological support is what BONU maintains is still lacking.

In the same year (2020), the Union raised a number of other challenges they are being faced with. These challenges, they asserted, make it testing for them to undertake their duties, especially now that COVID-19 has shaken Botswana’s already weak health system.

BONU expressed disappointment at nurses’ pay, nurses who tested positive for COVID-19 at an alarming rate, violence against nurses, nurses’ contracts which were never renewed and a poorly coordinated vaccination plan for health workers.

Clearly, nurses are not only battling the COVID-19 virus, but also government who has since refused to come to the party.

This week once again, BONU tested waters and slammed government with more demands, some of which have turned into an everyday song while COVID-19 continues to kill more nurses.

At a press conference on Tuesday, BONU President Rahube said over 800 nurses have been infected with COVID-19. Of this number, 34 nurses lost their lives due to COVID-19 related infections.

WHO and other health experts say for countries to emerge victorious from the COVID-19 pandemic, they must fast-track the roll out of vaccine. In Botswana, there is no clear explanations of how the vaccination plan is going.

The situation around vaccination is chaotic, and this is evidenced by only 28% of nurses who have been vaccinated. President Mokgweetsi Masisi is also disturbed by the COVAX programme as Botswana vaccines arrive in the country missing, every time.

Debates in Parliament on which vaccine to adopt are failing to conclude, in fact, they never gained energy. Rahube told members of the media that nurses are overworked.

“Shortage of nurses puts those available at risk. Some nurses are on isolation, quarantine and some passed on. Nurses do both testing and contact tracing so they end up working stretched hours, at times from 6am to 10pm. There is no how nurses will be able to deliver while exhausted,” he said.

He further indicated that infection control practitioners are not recognised and deployed appropriately, and some regions have shortage of commodities and supplies such as water resistant gowns (nurses are forced to re-use those availed), masks, gloves, scrubs and uniforms.

Oxygen supply is said to be in shortage, something that mounts COVID-19 deaths.

“Patients lose their lives whilst still awaiting to be put on oxygen. Psychological services are in serious need as nurses continue to lose their significant others, faced with resource constraints and many of them are not vaccinated,” said Rahube.

Accommodation still remains a huge challenge for nurses. BONU President said nurses overcrowd with families and colleagues.

In Kauxwi, four nurses share a single house, in Moshaweng two nurses share a single bedroomed house together with their families, with no electricity yet the village is powered. In Kazungula, there are only two staff houses for 11 nurses and their families.

The union stressed that the Chief Nursing Officer is not coming to the party, and the expectation is that the office should be coordinating all nursing issues at the Health Ministry. Rahube indicated that transfers have been frozen, promotions stalled and they continue to lose nursing posts to other Ministries.

In a number of recommendations, BONU urged government to consider compensation and risk allowance for staff affected by COVID-19 related deaths and those infected. “COVID-19 has been declared an occupational health illness, in essence, the employer should facilitate its occupational health division, and there are lots of occupational health nurses who are wrongly deployed, who could be running such programs at the facilities.”

In regard to vaccinations, BONU underlined that there should be clear information relating to vaccines and they should be made accessible. “Local franchise manufacturing of vaccine could use Botswana Vaccines Institute (BVI) and government should be clear and transparent concerning procurement of vaccines. It should also allow stakeholders with capacities of procuring vaccines to do so.”

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Gov’t reforms public procurement

4th August 2021
-Masisi-Serame

Government is moving swiftly to completely overhaul public procurement — a new Bill has been tabled before Parliament this week by Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame and is scheduled for debate in the coming days of the current parliament sitting. 

Through this Bill the country’s purse bearer seeks to dismantle existing public procurement pieces of legislation, transform, merge and form a new public procurement arrangement. The existing public procurement high command base — the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPDB) would cease to exist.

This organisation will transition and assume the reigns of a regulator and oversight authority; the actual procurement; floating of tenders, accepting bids, adjudicating and awarding tenders will be fully taken over by Government departments accounting officers.

Accounting officers are Permanent Secretaries and statutory organisation heads and directors or any person who is responsible for the administration and day-to-day management of the affairs of a procuring entity, and any other person, who may be designated as such by the Minister under the act.

Speaking to this Bill this week, Serame revealed that the current Public Procurement and Asset Disposal arrangement will be merged with the local authority’s procurement Act.

“We will now have procurement under one roof, all overseen by accounting officers, it’s all government money coming from one port,” she said.

Minister Serame explained that PPADB will no longer be player and referee at the same time, with a view to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the regulation and management of public procurement processes.

According to Minister Serame, the new public procurement Act will promote competition among suppliers and contractors, and also provide for the fair, equal and equitable treatment of all suppliers and contractors.

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT REGULATORY AUTHORITY 

Should parliament pass this bill the current Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) will transition into a new body called Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.

The new Authority will be  mandated with setting standards and practices for the public procurement system, regulate and control the public procurement system, ensure the application of fair, equitable, competitive, transparent, accountable, efficient, non-discriminatory, honest, value for money and public confidence in procurement standards and practices.

Furthermore the Authority will monitor and enforce compliance with the new Act and any relevant law by a procuring entity.

For standardization and  ensuring of world class procurement best practices the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority will  monitor, assess, review and report on the performance of the public procurement system to the Minister and advise on desirable changes, and further issue standardized bidding documents to all procuring entities

This oversight and procurement regulator will conduct periodic inspections of the records and proceedings of a procuring entity to ensure compliance with the Act.

The regulator will institute periodically, in respect of any procurement —a procurement audit during a tender process, a contract audit in the course of execution of an awarded tender, a performance audit after the completion of a contract, and an investigation at any stage of a procurement process.

The Authority will continue to keep and maintain an up-to-date register of contractors, known as the “Contractors’ Register”, in works, services and supplies, or any combination thereof, however classified.

The new Public Procurement Regulatory Authority will be governed by a board of nine (9) non-executive directors appointed by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.

The Public Procurement Board will be charged with directing the affairs of the Authority. Day to day executive activities of the Public Procurement Authority will be run by a Chief Executive Officer who will be appointed by the Minister on the recommendation of the board.

PROCURING ENTITIES AND ACCOUNTING OFFICERS 

The actual procurement will now be handled by the Accounting Officers who will lead their procuring entities. The entities will consist of the procurement oversight unit, a procurement unit, an ad hoc Evaluation Committee, the user Department; or any other appropriate structure put in place by the Government.

The Accounting Officer will be in charge of establishment of appropriate procurement structures to undertake the procurement functions under the new act, which shall be staffed at an appropriate level in line with the model structure issued by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.

The Accounting Officer will also be charged with establishment, as may be prescribed, of a committee within a procuring entity which will oversee procurement activities, establishment, as may be prescribed, of an oversight committee to monitor procurement activities in a procuring entity.

The primary role of the Accounting Officers will be adjudication and award of tenders, including the adjudication of a bid recommendation submitted to him/her through a procurement oversight unit.

The Accounting officer will have powers to cancel a tender process and reject a tender offer at any time prior to entering into a contract, in the manner as may be prescribed, and the Accounting Officer shall not compensate the bidder of a tender that has been cancelled.

Under this proposed Act new set of regulations and guidelines will direct procurement complaints and appeals.

COMPLAINTS & TENDER DISPUTES

A procuring entity  will, after the publication of an award decision — allow a cooling-off period of 10 days in order for the procuring entity to receive and address complaints, if any, from any contractor who is aggrieved by the award decision; and not enter into a contract relating to the award before the expiration of a cooling period.

A contractor who is aggrieved by a breach of any provision of this Act or claims to have suffered or is likely to suffer loss or damages due to a breach of a duty imposed on a procuring entity shall, at the first instance, lodge a complaint before an Accounting Officer for review.

A contractor who lodges a complaint shall have the right to participate in the review proceedings before an Accounting Officer. A contractor who fails to participate in the review proceedings shall be barred from subsequently lodging the same complaint.

Under this proposed Act an Accounting Officer will not entertain a complaint after a contract has entered into force. After considering a complaint and determining that the complaint is a frivolous or vexatious complaint, Accounting Officer shall dismiss such complaint.

Notwithstanding subsection (1), an Accounting Officer may refer a complaint considered and determined to be frivolous or vexatious to the Tribunal for the Tribunal to take any appropriate action as may be prescribed.

An aggrieved person shall submit his or her complaint in writing to an Accounting Officer within 10 days from the date of the publication of an award decision by the Accounting Officer, relating to the complaint.

The Accounting Officer will not entertain a complaint unless it is submitted to him/her within the period referred to under subsection.

A contractor who is aggrieved by a decision of an Accounting Officer may appeal to the Tribunal within 14 days from the date of the decision of the Accounting Officer.

Where a contract has been concluded by a procuring entity, based on an award decision of an Accounting Officer, the contract shall be irrevocable and its execution shall proceed without interruption whether the award decision by the Accounting Officer may in itself remain disputable by a contractor through the Tribunal.

Notwithstanding subsection (5), the Tribunal may suspend and subsequently revoke or terminate the execution of a contract if in the opinion of the Tribunal, sufficient evidence has been adduced to demonstrate that the execution of the contract may cause substantial loss to the public revenue or prejudicially affect public interest.

A complainant who wishes to lodge a complaint shall exhaust the dispute resolution processes provided in this Act before the complainant refers the complaint to a court.

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT TRIBUNAL 

The Tribunal will be a body established independently from Public Procurement Regulatory Authority, and shall constitute retired High Court judges or practicing attorneys who qualify to appoint high court judge.

The Tribunal shall adjudicate over any matter brought before it by a complainant for a breach of any of the provisions of this Act, or any appeal brought in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

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COVID-19 hits hard on BITC

4th August 2021
BITC

The COVID-19 pandemic which weakened world economies had left a devastating impact on Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) existence in 2020. According to the group’s 2019/2020 Annual Report, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was sluggish for the first two quarters at P126 million and P426.96 million respectively. They then took an upward trajectory in Q3 and 4 at P1396 million and P1456 million respectively.

The year closed with a reduced performance at 73% for Q4. According to the financial report, export earnings opened the year at 83% which is approximately P671 million, before dropping to 81% (P1299.55 million). However, Quarter 3 experienced a slight rise in performance to 82%, or P1978.42 million before a drop in performance to close Quarter 4 at P74.9%, which was P2403.91 million.

Even if that is the case, the Centre continued to promote local investors by facilitating for local entrepreneurs to produce and find markets for their products both locally and internationally. The trend for Domestic Investment/Expansions indicated a continual upward performance surge from Quarter 1 through Quarter 4.

In percentage points, performance results reflected opening of 93% performance followed by a dip in performance to 82% Quarter 2, and then an increase to 100% in Quarter 3 and closing performance of 84.2% in Quarter 4.

For this financial year under review, BITC posted solid financial results with a surplus of P872.968, representing a decline from the previous year’s surplus of P13.991.337. The Centre started on track from the beginning of the financial year with successful execution of activities planned for the year.

However, following the subsequent onset of COVID-19 in the last quarter for the financial year, a few of the activities were negatively affected resulting from restricted cross border transfers. The impact is expected to be severe in the following financial year, especially on the Centre’s financial statements, clearly reflecting the negative impact of COVID-19.

In the financial year ended March 2020, BITC received a total subvention of P96.504.860 which represents a 5% decrease from the previous year’s subvention of P101.830.560. the Grant subvention received for the past 5 years has not been constant due to the financial constraints that the government has experienced over the years which prompted for alignment of financial resources to cover the Centre’s strategic imperatives.

For the year under review BITC’s annual FDI capital inflows realised stood at P1.456 billion against an annual target of P2 billion, which is largely attributable to more than expected performance from the Financial Services sector. The total Domestic Investment for the period was P875.5 million against the set stretched target of P952 million. The total number of jobs registered by the organisation during the year under review was 3329, against an annual target of 3340.

BITC ACHIEVEMENTS

Notwithstanding that, BITC realised high level achievements for the year under review. Chief Executive Officer Keletsositse Olebile said facilitated to establish the Selibe-Phikwe citrus project, which has a job creation expectation of 1000 vacancies as well as the expansion of Kromberg and Shubert Company through the allocation of land for construction of 7000 square metres factory to manufacture wire harness for Mercedes Benz, with over 800 jobs expected this year.

Further, the Centre continued to deliver improved investor facilitation services to both local and foreign investors through the Botswana one Stop service centre (BOSSC). “BOSSC houses relevant government departments under one roof to provide prompt, efficient and transparent services to investors. The services offered by this Centre have grown from slightly above 130 applications for government authorisation in 2013 to 752 in the year under review,” said Olebile.

BITC continued to monitor Botswana’s performance in global competitiveness indicators such as the World Bank’s ease of Doing Business Index. “In an endeavour to improve the investor facilitation mechanism in the country, we have motivated for the drafting of a Business Facilitation Law, which will expedite the setting up and operations of businesses in Botswana.”

ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION DRIVE

BITC continued to respond to government’s call to stimulate direct investment and growth of local companies by procuring goods and services from locally based manufactures and services providers. The message to promote locals to actively grow the national economy has been driven through campaigns such as ‘PushaBW’ which utilised an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) approach. As at March 2020, local purchases constituted 84% (2019:85%) of the total procurement with foreign purchases at 16% (2019:15%).

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