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Khama plans BDP return

It has been barely a year since the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) gave birth to the Botswana Patriotic Party (BPF) after a massive fallout between the current President Mokgweetsi Masisi and former President Ian Khama.

Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has warmed up to the idea of smoking a peace pipe with his successor, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, and he is prepared to return to his former political home.  Khama and Masisi fell out following the latter’s ascendency to the presidency. The fall out is attributed to the idea that Masisi breached some of the agreements that the two men had prior to Khama leaving office.

Before Khama’s departure as President, it was believed that he had chosen someone whom he will control post Presidency.  However, the moment Khama left the office, Masisi emerged from the woods, proving to be his own man. However, this publication has gathered that Khama is ready to retrace his steps after he failed to dislodge Masisi from the top seat in the 2019 general elections, but Masisi is not yet ready to accept his former boss.

When Khama left BDP last year, he caused a trail of destruction, with BDP losing the majority of seats in the Central District for the first time since independence, including the three Serowe constituencies. It is reported that Khama was hurt by Masisi’s action hence he wanted him removed from the presidency. The former President went on to form a political party and a political alliance with the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

With elections gone, and Masisi still in power, Khama is attempting to put their differences aside. Some senior BDP members (names withheld) allegedly tried to soften Masisi by persuading him to accept Khama back but he declined and dismissed them outright. “I don’t think the President [Masisi] is ready to deal with such an issue at this point in time. He infuriates at the mention of Khama’s name, they are many issues surrounding their fallout and it will take time to put their differences aside,” revealed a source.

Furthermore, sources have revealed that the reason why Khama’s big comeback might be weighing heavily on the President is because he is not sure on whether or not he can be trusted again.
“Who knows what the motive behind this possible comeback might be? After a series of battles that unfolded last year prior to elections, the idea itself sends mixed signals.”

However, it is reported that some members within the BDP have advised Khama to go public about his quest to make peace between him and his predecessor. Khama has been accused of working with the current Secretary General of the BDP, Mpho Balopi in an initiative to help him in his pursuit for the Chairmanship of the party.

It is alleged that factions are already looming in the BDP, some vouching for Khama’s big comeback. Moreover, Balopi is reported to be working with former President Ian Khama, which does not sit well with President Masisi.Reports from sources say that Balopi justifies his working relationship by saying that he and Khama have known each other from time immemorial and he is what he is because of Khama.

Balopi first became the party SG at the time when Khama was leading the party. As it is, Balopi is the third most senior member of the party, coming after Masisi and Tsogwane. While Khama could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print, few weeks ago he confirmed that there are talks on going involving party elders about the possibility of him re-uniting with his former party.

Khama’s comment came in the wake of a BDP statement by Masisi affirming that Khama was not a member of the ruling party. Masisi’s statement was, according to sources, triggered by the developments in the party when some claimed that Khama had not formal resigned from the party, therefore entitled to return at any time he wishes.

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More Batswana turn to social media – for better, for worse

25th May 2020

Social-media use in Botswana has doubled over the past five years despite considerable misgivings about some of its possible negative effects, the latest Afrobarometer survey shows.

According to Afrobarometer latest survey, “more than a third of Batswana now use Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, or other social media every day as sources of news. Most citizens praise social media as helping make them better informed, more effective citizens, but most also believe it makes people more susceptible to false news and intolerance.”

Overall, the results show that Batswana are divided as to whether social media is good or bad for society. “But a majority favour protecting unrestricted access”. According to the findings, more than one-third (34%) of Batswana say they use social media every day to get news, almost twice as many as five years ago (18%).

“Daily use of social media for news is significantly higher amongst citizens with post-secondary education (65%), the youngest respondents (53% of those aged 18-26), and urban residents (50%) (Figure 2). Six out of 10 rural residents never use it.”

Amongst the 73% of Batswana who say they have heard of social media, most say it makes people more informed about current events (91%) and helps them have more impact on political processes (77%). At the same time, large majorities believe that social media makes users more likely to believe false news (81%) and more intolerant of people with different political opinions (65%).

Overall, Batswana are almost evenly divided as to whether social media is good (35%) or bad (30%) for society. “But people who say unrestricted access to social media should be protected outnumber, by 52% to 38%, those who say it should be regulated because it’s dividing Batswana,” the survey results show.

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life. Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018, and Round 8 surveys are currently underway. Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice.

The Afrobarometer national partner in Botswana, Star Awards Ltd., interviewed a nationally representative, random, stratified probability sample of 1,200 adult Batswana in July-August 2019. A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. Previous surveys were conducted in Botswana in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2017.

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WUC is broke, Pay water bills – PS appeals

25th May 2020
WUC

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Land Management, Water & Sanitation Services, Ms Bonolo Khumotaka has appealed to Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) customers to pay their outstanding water bills.

She said this will help the Corporation to recover costs and ensure it continues to operate without hindrance. Speaking to members of the media this week, Khumotaka revealed that during the COVID-19 lockdown WUC was only able to collect around P50 million from utility fees instead of the usual P150 million. She observed that this is a whooping P100 million deficit in revenue collection during the month of April 2020.

When COVID-19 intensified President Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi instructed WUC to suspend its process of disconnecting water supply for defaulting customers. President Masisi indicated that the decision was imperative and necessary to enable Batswana to comply with COVID-19 protocols and requirements. Batswana are encouraged to maintain general cleanliness especially the washing of hands and sanitization.

The Permanent Secretary reiterated that the Water Authority was therefore suffocating from overwhelming operating costs that are not recovered. “We encourage all those who can pay their water bills to do so, this will enable us to continue servicing the country with the much needed water during this period of COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

The Permanent Secretary further noted that it is crucial for WUC customers to pay their bills so that the Corporation recovers costs and keeps its workforce. “Distributing water is very expensive, because we have to maintain our pipes and pumps to keep water supply afloat. We appeal to Batswana to meet us half way, even if its paying half of the bill, it is very much welcome,” she pleaded.

Khumotaka further added, “The Corporation is employing Batswana, so for us to avoid cutting costs and coming to drastic decisions such as laying off some employees, it is important that we recover costs from Batswana who can afford to pay their bills. We have come up with new payment platforms, including digital and cell phone payments methods to make it easy for our customers to pay,” she advised.

Khumotaka said on a monthly basis, Botswana needs 10.5 million cubic meters of water, but currently the country only provides around nine million cubic meters. Meanwhile responding to concerns that WUC was relatively ineffective in delivering water to Batswana, Khumotaka said Government was currently formulating a decentralization policy in which Central Government would be relieved of some duties and mandates.

Concerns from rural settlements are that since public water supply services migrated from Local Government (Councils) to Central Government (Water Utilities Corporation) delivery has been relatively poor. “The policy will inform Government of which services to take to Local government, water supply is one of those under review,” she said.

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Dikgosi want Khama, Tawana in Ntlo Ya Dikgosi

25th May 2020

Some Dikgosi across the country have expressed their desire and eagerness to have Paramount Chiefs who had joined politics return to their traditional roles and occupy their seats in Ntlo Ya Dikgosi (NYD). This development, they believe, will boost the integrity of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, which has lost spark over the years.

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