BDP financiers worried by declining approval rate
A clique of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) financiers is deeply worried by what they say is a growing’ disapproval rate’ of both the party and its poster boy, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, since the controversial 2019 elections. The sponsors, who have a long history with the party, believe that should elections be held now, “the BDP is likely to lose owing to several factors,” and they even conceded that it is a cause of concern to them.”Because you cannot support a losing entity,” said a leading figure in the business community sympathetic to the ruling party.
In the main, the sponsors say, the reason the BDP and its leader seem to be unpopular to their 2019 voters and the public, in general, is failure to implement the promises the party made when campaigning for re-election two years ago. Besides, they also said that the current leadership had poorly performed in fighting the Covid-19 scourge, which has put them in a challenging position.
“Look, from where we stand, the political leaders should act on the manifesto because that is the social contract they have with the people, especially their voters,” said a man of Chinese descent who admits being one of the BDP funders, especially the party activities and during elections. “If you do not walk the talk, you are likely to see what is happening, people not approving you like they did when you promised them heaven on earth in 2019.
“If the party can accelerate the promises, it will be better. It has been two years, but nothing is moving.” Among promises that the BDP made in 2019, where they won elections with an improved popular vote of 52.65% from 46.45% of 2014 polls, it was a comprehensive constitutional review and improved ease of doing business. All these, together with the assembling of an electric car, remain a pipe dream. This inaction worries the BDP benefactors.
“Only two years to implement this, failure in which it will be an insurmountable task for the party,” said the business mogul at his plush office in Gaborone.
President Masisi has, however, responded by creating a Chief of Staff post in the Office of the President, which he said is aimed at, among others, ensuring that electoral promises of 2019 elections are implemented.
Boyce Sebetela, a former cabinet minister, has since assumed the newly created office. With just under 40 months left before the next elections, the BDP is faced with a crisis of confidence. Apart from the failure to walk the promise, the affluent community, backing the ruling party, contend that another monumental disappointment is the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When it first broke out here, it was an unknown enemy; we supported this government with everything possible, including the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s),” said the financier.
“We supported the initial lockdown. But leaders took advantage of us, with the Ministry of Health not paying us the amount to bring a consignment of PPEs to Botswana after assisting with the initial one.
“But we knew we are assisting the party that we always do. However, in terms of vaccine procurement, the party or the government dismally failed. “If there was consultation as promised in 2019, several people could have assisted, and we would not have lost the people we have lost now.” From where he stands, Batswana could be vaccinated if the government was serious, which is what causes Batswana to be antagonistic towards the current regime.
Another investor told this publication that they have a deep-seated worry that “if Botswana held elections now, I do not see the BDP winning, it will lose by a margin. That is judging with the mood of the people now.” Despite denying benefiting from tender kickbacks, the investors have an intention of helping the party with diagnosing its current problems and how best to address them.
“We are planning to meet with the party and draw up a strategic plan as early as next year to see what could be done for the BDP to remain in government. Already we have identified political experts who are willing to help us in this regard,” added the investor, who boasts of business entities in countries across the SADC region.
Should the plan see the light of the day, it will not for the first time as before the 1999 elections, De Beers, a company synonymous with BDP, also drew up a strategy to assist the party. The tactic, as political historian John Makgala put it, “ascended Ian Khama to assist the then President Festus Mogae as he was popular and could reinvigorate the party’s dwindling fortunes.”
In the wake of the 1994 general elections, in which the party fared poorly, and amid fears that it might lose the next general elections to Botswana National Front (BNF), De Beers commissioned Professor Lawrence Schlemmer to diagnose the party problems and offer recommendations.
THE DEVIL IS ON POLITICAL FUNDING
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has already furnished the cabinet with numerous electoral reforms recommendations gleaned from various stakeholders following the 2019 contentious elections.
The findings highlight political party funding, which has been a thorny issue for the ruling party. “To enact laws which provide for the establishment of the office of the Registrar of political parties and introduction of political parties and regulation of private funding,” said the recommendation.
Political parties have been fending for themselves in sourcing election funds, and this had observers and commentators arguing that the current climate is prone to state capture.
If there was national political party funding, observers say sponsors would not be meddling in parties’ affairs like they are doing now.
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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup
With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.
Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.
The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.
Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.
“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.
Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.
Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.
For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.
Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS
The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.
When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.
Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.
She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.
During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.
Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017
Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.
According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd, the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.
However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.
“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.
While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.
“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.
The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.