President Mokgweetsi Masisi has this week reportedly rejected a deal by Members of Parliament (MPs) to have their benefits reviewed to conform to contemporary demands. Weekend Post has established that the committee met with President Masisi on Friday at the Office of the President to seal the deal which became a no deal.
This notwithstanding that Masisi has all along been in contact with the MPs and agreed with them â€œin principleâ€ although he reneged at the last minute.Â Part of the deal was to increase the MPs ruling Botswana Democratic party (BDP) backbenchers and opposition legislatorsâ€™ Housing Allowances by a whopping 100 percent from the current P11 000 to P22 000 monthly.Â It is understood that their line of argument is that they carried out research before and it indicates that the MPs housing allowance was too low for the calibre of the office they occupy and therefore needed to be increased to somewhere between P22 000 and P27 000.
In addition, as part of the agreement with Masisi, the MPs had in the deal settled for a 50 percent subsidy for cars instead of getting new constituency cars because they believe an MP job is 24 hours. The deal would have meant that they will buy private cars of their choice at any price, as a cost cutting measure instead of buying new ones, and that the government foots 50 percent of the total cost while the other part is taken care of by the legislators.
It is understood that when Masisi met the MP benefits and welfare committee led by Chairperson and Mmadinare legislator, Molebatsi Molebatsi last week in a meeting which did not last long â€“ he received more than he bargained for. Although Masisi had previously agreed with them in principle, he turned down their demands on grounds that government has insufficient money to take care of the MPs conditions of service and their needs due to the ongoing Coronavirus epidemic.
Masisi announced last week in a televised presser upon hearing that the government has spent P22 million so far in combating COVID-19 since the news of the deadly Virus broke out. Interestingly, the money has been spent although there is no known confirmed cases of Corona Virus in Botswana in which logic dictates that thereafter more money would be spent (if a case or more is confirmed).
Masisi stated that: â€œP22 million has already been spent thus far. Do we have money to fight this? No, we have no money lying around but this money we will find. At this moment we have not declared this a national disaster, however we still treat this as a state of emergency, even if we have no confirmed cases.â€ He continued: â€œThe initial budget allocated to deal with this virus was P31 million, of which P50 million had been requested.â€
When speaking to Weekend Post following the meeting, one MP who preferred anonymity said: â€œOur committee met with Masisi this morning but unfortunately he says there is no money because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.â€ The ruling party MP who said Masisiâ€™s response left him with an egg on the face, added that the matter was agreed in principle by both parties but later Masisi, after consulting with Accountant General reneged, citing COVID-19.
On his part government and ruling BDP Chief Whip in Parliament Liakat Kablay told this publication that it is disastrous that Masisi turned down their offer. â€œâ€Itâ€™s quite unfortunate,â€ he said. The Letlhakeng-Lephephe legislator continued to point out that MPs have been calling for their conditions of service to be improved especially with regard to constituency cars and housing allowances.
â€œWe do not have cars to utilise when addressing official kgotla meetings and as such we want constituency cars. As MPs we should be recognised, we should have cars at constituencies so that even when we host the President, Vice President at kgotla meetings, we use them,â€ he told Weekend Post.
â€œMinisters drive fancy cars,â€ he lashed out while adding that, â€œMinistersâ€™ cars should therefore be downsized to one. They should only have one official car. It is an utter waste of money. They use those cars to take their kids to school, what is that? Right now they have a Prado estimated at P1 million and a Mercedes Benz costing 1.2 million. As MPs we want those cars.â€Â He said it was unfortunate that they were turned down on the basis of corona, but it is a matter which is topical, serious and unavoidable.
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.