The Office of the President (OP) has failed to account for travel expenses incurred by President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Vice Slumber Tsogwane on political, private and official trips since ascending to the top offices in 2018.
Both Masisi and Tsogwane are allowed by law, in particular the Green Book, to travel anywhere in any capacity while tax payers foot the bill. “When we looked at the books in our account, we realised that it’s not really possible that we clearly unbundle the costs. It was really difficult and therefore we really believe that maybe we leave it as it is,” OP newly appointed Permanent Secretary, Thatoyaone Raphaka, revealed this week to parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) during their re-submission.
This comes after the Committee had recently requested OP to “unbundle” the cost or the financial resources attached to the travels on private, political and official matters by President Masisi and VP Tsogwane.
Raphaka continued: “one of the things that we felt makes things difficult is that, when we go to the Green Book which is the one that indicates how the two can use the official resources allocated to them, you will find that it’s just open and not specific and limiting. That’s why it’s difficult to unbundle that.”
Following the OP PS’s provocative answer, PAC Committee member and Francistown West lawmaker, Wynter Mmolotsi expressed worry that the answer is in contrast to what the previous PS Thuso Ramodimoosi has promised PAC which he stressed it was possible that the amounts be unbundled.
“I am worried because we have asked this question not once, not twice, but more than three times. If we had asked once only we could be understanding. We have been consistently told before, that it can be done,” Mmolotsi fumed.
He further explained that the question is not about whether the President and the VP are entitled to the travels. “It is not about that” while stressing that it is only about “the costs incurred” on their political, official and private issues. According to the PAC member, he thinks it is also a question to inform on other things moving forward. “If we cannot unbundle then there is a problem,” he cautioned.
Mmolotsi wondered: “does that mean the Accounts personnel who appeared on PAC last time were not aware of this because last time they promised to bring them to the committee?” The AP leader emphasized that, clearly, from the tone set by the political principals, they do not wish this information to be availed, this was said when the very same question was asked in parliament.
No time-line for Freedom of Information law
The OP PS was also at pains to reveal “when” the crucial Bill will come to parliament, stating that the Bill “is already there but we are still consulting on it.” Raphaka highlighted that in terms of the ratification of open democracy, when there are conventions that Botswana agree with, there is a way of ratifying them and domesticating them.
“Right now we have the Freedom of Information Bill that we believe is part of those that are in line with the open democracy laws. So we are currently in the process of developing modalities or closing loose ends with respect to allowing the law to be passed by parliament. Such laws also need to conform to the constitution,” he said, without giving specific time lines.
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.