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How Botswana blew P1.5 billion on COVID-19

Wilfred-Mandlebe

Government has spent P1.5 billion fighting COVID-19 pandemic since April this year, with majority of the funds (70 percent) going towards health related expenditure as well as the wage subsidy.

When testifying before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this week, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Wilfred Mandlebe said the COVID-19 Relief Fund is now left with P629 million (29.6 percent).

In the COVID Relief Fund, government contributed P2 billion and the rest of the contribution totalling P125 million was made by various organisations and individuals. So in total the fund had P2.125 billion. In terms of where the P1.5 billion went to, the Finance PS highlighted that, “first the money went to health (ongoing), wage subsidy (206 000 workers), food relief (which has since stopped), repatriation of the citizens and education.’’

He continued: “I want to say that we have implemented those in three months; April, May, June and although we have not evaluated it our believe is that to the extent that we have not had anybody who has died from starvation, we think that plus or minus, our interventions worked.” Mandlebe pointed out that in response to COVID-19, Botswana had put in place an economic response which was highly publicised.

“The bottom line was we wanted to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on labour and that’s why they introduced a wage subsidy. We also wanted to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on businesses that’s why we had government guarantee insurance and we also wanted to save lives,” he stressed. He was however quick to point out that; “we are not yet out of the woods as we are no longer looking at stabilization but recovery.”

Finance Ministry to request for supplementary funds at parliament

Meanwhile, Mandlebe also stated that they are looking forward to putting in a request for more funds (undisclosed amounts) from parliament to further fight COVID-19.
“I am going to propose a supplementary for this year. COVID-19 is not out. We need money so that if the disease goes up we are able to deal with it,” stressed Mandlebe.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

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.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

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.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

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.

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