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Khama rejects ‘Masisi’s man’

The Office of the President (OP) has this week appointed with immediate effect former Acting Director of Tribal Administration, also former District Commissioner for North East District Council Loeto Porati as Private Secretary to former President Lt Gen Ian Khama.

Even though Porati has not yet resumed duty, Khama on Thursday said he will write back to OP to say they did not follow the due process of appointing a Private Secretary. “During my time in office, the general procedure has been that, you recommend a name and government as the appointing authority will dully appoint the person if they are available. In the event that the person is still holding public office they will either release them or tell you to recommend another name,” Khama told WeekendPost. 

Khama said a Private Secretary is someone very close, someone you discuss personal things with so it cannot be a stranger but someone you trust. “I cannot say I know him (Porati), this is someone I once bumped into whilst I was still in office. What baffles me is why is he being imposed on me, why would the President insist on him, why? People have been telling me that he is being sent to spy on me,” said Khama. Khama said during former Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi’s tenure, they wrote to him to recommend the name of his choice of Private Secretary.

“Even though they rejected the name at least they had the decency to write to me and ask if I do recommend the name,” he said. Khama said this is the general practice which he had held in high esteem during his time in office. Khama was left without a Private Secretary in 2018 when Brigadier George Tlhalerwa decided to resign after government refused to allow him to continue serving on the same salary and package at the end of Khama’s tenure. 


After the departure of Tlhalerwa in September 2018, Khama proposed the name of former intelligence chief, Colonel Isaac Kgosi but the then Permanent Secretary to President and Secretary to Cabinet Cater Morupisi refused to appoint him. Khama through his lawyers Toteng and Company, served government with a statutory notice demanding that Kgosi be appointed as his Senior Private Secretary within a reasonable time failing which he will institute review proceedings and seek an order declaring that President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s decision is unreasonable, irrational and unlawful and be set aside.

Government maintained its stance regarding the refusal to employ Kgosi, a move that left Khama without a Private Secretary for almost two years now. In the interim, one Mabedi Letsholo has been executing the duties on acting basis. The former President was quoted in one of the local newspapers when asked about Letsholo saying: “We worked together at the Office of the President and he has been doing so well to save the situation.”

At the time Khama said he badly wanted to continue with Tlhalerwa or his most trusted ally Kgosi because they come a long way and previously worked together.  “You just do not pick anybody to be your Private Secretary. It has to be somebody you know and who knows you,” he emphasised. However, approximately two years without a Senior Private Secretary, government has this week appointed with immediate effect Loeto Porati to take the position at former President Khama’s Office. A source who spoke on anonymity said there is a suspicion that Porati is sent by Masisi to monitor Khama’s office and report to his masters.


The appointment taking effect immediately has been made without notice, consultation or any agreement with the former President or his office. The fallout between Khama and his successor President Masisi has profoundly deteriorated to a point where there is a reported continuous harassment of officers who have been working under Khama for many years, the latest being Tiggy Letswapong, Khama’s Executive Secretary, the two have worked together for 22 years.

Letswapong’s contract is coming to an end this month and government has taken a decision not to renew it.  Again, Khama’s long-time medical officer who has also worked with him for more than 20 years was relieved of his duties at the former President’s office on Monday. It has not been established where the officer is currently stationed. Khama was also quoted saying, “Officers (are) removed from my office without consultation, without reasons. Why is my Senior Executive Secretary’s contract not being renewed while (the one) for former President Festus Mogae has been renewed”.

Impeccable sources told WeekendPost that all cabinet Ministers and former President Mogae are entitled to the services of Private Secretaries of their own choice and selection. “In this one President Masisi has instructed his PSP Elias Magosi that Khama’s Private Secretary must be appointed by him personally,” said a source close to OP.  It is alleged that at the centre of controversy is Khama’s continued charity work which must be put to rest.

“A special team is reported to be working around the clock, to end Khama’s legacy more especially the Presidential Housing Appeal which continues to bring Khama some respect despite government’s continued effort in trying to tarnish his name. Khama continues to receive countless requests to assist charitable projects and activities across the country,” alleged the source.

Following the now dreaded standoff between Masisi and his predecessor, a few weeks back the Masisi led administration withdrew BX vehicle registration number plates, which were alleged to be for use by President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane respectively. Efforts to reach Permanent Secretary to the President Elias Magosi proved futile as his phones rang unanswered.

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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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