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Botswana declared State in crisis

Botswana declared state in crisis

The recently released World Happiness Report (WHR) which placed Botswana at 146th position out of 149 nations surveyed, has substantiated what has been hypothesis of sceptics and observers and even coerced the civil society to air their views on the status quo and by extension, declared that this country might be ensnared in a crisis.

Botswana has never fared any better since the inception of the happiness index in 2012 under the administration of Lt General Ian Khama. It was expected to improve when President Mokgweetsi took reins in 2018, but it is apparent that tables are now turning for the worse with the shining example of democracy in Africa- Botswana- now three places from being the least happy nation in the world.

The report focuses on six key areas; Real GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, perceptions of corruption. Each country is also compared against a hypothetical nation called Dystopia. Dystopia represents the lowest national averages for each key variable and is, along with residual error, used as a regression benchmark. Finland is the happiest country in the world.

The diminishing smiles from the country once tagged as a beacon of hope, especially to its populace, is worrying as it is one of the richest countries on the African continent endowed with minerals, abundant land, natural resources and cattle. Yet the people are some of the poorest and unhappiest, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Vice President, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang has posited.

According to former Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) President Master Oboletswe Matlhaope there is need to worry. “If indeed the research is genuine then we have every reason to worry, unhappiness results in other things that are explosive,” he said.

“We should look at inequality levels which is very huge in our country, again as a society we should ask ourselves if are we have a saving culture, are we secure, are we a debtful society do we have quality pension when we leave our jobs if not then it means there is fear from our people. Are we healthy, people have been suffering from TB, HIV and now Covid-19 and surely they are anxious and that may cause anger.”

It seems people are living in fear, suspicions and anxiety. Of most concern is their anger, it is very worrisome as it can lead to the un-imaginable at any point. “If we have a bunch of unhappy people you may ask yourself what is keeping them going, what keeps the peace and what keeps cohesion. We need to encourage prayer because it is the one that can keep us together. If we compromise it then we are headed for a disaster.”

Batswana’s unhappiness is clearly visible from the traffic, shopping malls and even radio calls, says one observer and even argues that as a nation we have never been happy-perhaps an argument for another day. The University of Botswana lecturer at the faculty of Social Work, Dr. Kgomotso Jongman concurs that Batswana are not happy and that begins from individual to familial set-up before it can be failure by government.

“It is twofold issue, micro and macro. At family level for example we hide key issues under the carpet and pretend to be happy only for us to burst at our work places or wherever we interact with others. This can be so because the very unhappy people are the ones tasked with crafting policies and those targeted for those policies or programmes will also feel they are vindictive and this causes a ripple effect,” said Dr Jongman.

The government however cannot be left out in relation to its population unhappy.

“The people are very reliant on government because since the discovery of the diamonds he has been a Father Christmas giving out and not promoting self-reliance. Now the kids (citizens) who are used to manna from heaven are bickering and there is chaos because they have never been taught how to fend for themselves,” he said.

Dr. Jongman backs the nation’s unhappiness saying the people’s anger is justified because “they have legitimate expectations from the government.” All the sectors be education, health and agriculture are falling and now the people are pointing fingers at each other because we have never experienced this, he added.

With war ravaged and poverty stricken countries like Chad and Gambia ranking above Botswana, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Vice President Dr. Gobotswang is shocked but not surprised.
“The gap between the rich and the poor is unacceptable. Unemployment and underemployment and poverty levels are high. Corruption, abuse of office and nepotism are institutionalized. People get jobs if they have connections, mediocrity is rewarded. There are several government assistance schemes that are inaccessible, hence the dissatisfaction among the population.

The economy is bleeding as 37 per cent of development budget goes to waste,” a seemingly unhappy Dr Gobotswang shared in an interview. The solution for all the grumbles according to Gobotswang is to strengthen oversight institutions like the Ombudsman, Parliament, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA), and Directorate on Public Prosecution (DPP) so that they are truly independent.

“That requires an overhaul of the constitution. We need to introduce freedom of information law and change legislation on whistle blowing to make it apply without fear or favour,” Dr Gobotswang.
Not only is BCP VP lamenting, but Alliance for Progressive (AP) through its Secretary General Dr. Phenyo Butale agrees that the citizenry is unhappy and we might be headed for a crisis.

“Batswana are spectators in their own country in the economic activity, young minds with creative, brilliant and innovative ideas get so frustrated when all paths are closed and hit walls to government offices and parastatals and there are no opportunities for the young people and for Batswana. People move around with hopelessness and this mark economic which has huge disparity with the poor getting poorer and the citizen gets-muscled out of the economy,” said Dr Butale.

“With all these, there is no how the citizen can be happy as the locals should be empowered. Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE) law should be committed and sectors that are job creating should be given to the locals with responsibility to create jobs and export services and goods like the creative and manufacturing. There should be transformation of our system from Patronage and favouritism and nepotism to meritocracy, a system that can serve and a system with less economic disparity.”

Again there is a concern from the labour movement of Botswana Federation of Trade Union (BFTU). “Salaries are depressing, most of the working class earn less than P5000 and generally Batswana are the working poor they survive by hand to mouth. Our democracy also should be looked as to whether our 2019 expectations have been met, certainly no and we agree as a union that Batswana are not happy,” said BFTU Secretary General, Thusang Butale.

“We should have a National Social Dialogue Structure, civil society council of churches and government where we can talk as a country. Governance issues should also be taken seriously for example if we have IEC stakeholder’s report and there are gaps that needs to be closed then we should and not throw away and act. Things like GBV should be swiftly dealt with to make the nation happy.”

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State forged Kgosi’s arrest warrant

22nd July 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).

The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.

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UDC parties discuss by-elections

22nd July 2021
UDC

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.

Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.

The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.

This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).

The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.

The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.

In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.

Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.

Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.

“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.

Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.

“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.

The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.

UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.

Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.

Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.

Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”

Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.

FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS  

With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.

BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.

BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.

It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.

Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”

It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.

At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.

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DIS infiltrates Police fingerprint system

22nd July 2021
Makgope

Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.

Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.

BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.

The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.

By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.

In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.

“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.

“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.

The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.

All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.

“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.

Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.

Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.

COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE

As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.

“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.

The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.

“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.

The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.

“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.

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