Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive (NEC) has finally agreed to revise the contentious party constitution, following prevalent polarising views by contracting partners.
UDC experienced turmoil earlier this year, occasioned by disagreements relating to governance issues. One of the parties in the coalition, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), was a ring leader in the melee.
BCP had approached the mother party, proposing a re-look into the ‘undemocratic’ UDC set-up. BCP top brass suggested that there must be a system of mandate renewal, either through elections or rotation.
Despite the Botswana National Front (BNF) having been antagonists towards the idea, the UDC has decided to carefully scrutinise the constitution to make it a unifying document to avoid the past brawls. The process will include future coalition partners; Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BFP).
“The parties that want to join UDC would also be allowed to submit proposals on the constitutional architecture. So, it will be a unifying document that will reflect the interests of all of us. It will symbolise the ability of the partners to compromise and work together for the good of the nation,” explained party spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa.
The notorious transitional clause which has no timeline is the elephant in the room in the UDC. The constitution says the clause ceases to exist upon UDC holding a congress, but the party is yet to have an elective congress.
UDC project has proved to be confusing parties and the party rank and file as to whether it is a party or just an election arrangement structure. The ongoing revision will deal with all these and others by various parties. Each party, including AP and BPF, according to Mohwasa, will make its submission.
“The BNF has assigned Nelson Ramaotwana and Oteng Motlhala to come work on a draft which will be presented to the party’s Central Committee which will then be sent to the UDC NEC as BNF position,” he said. UDC VP Dumelang Saleshando is overseeing the collation of different submissions, which will be dealt with by the UDC NEC.
The revised constitution of 2018, which was passed after UDC negotiations with BCP, has never been implemented after Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) – UDC constituent party objected to the registrar of societies saying BCP is not a UDC member in good standing. UDC now uses an older constitution signed and stamped on the 23rd of August 2012, when the idea of opposition unity was formulated.
In terms of the negotiation structure, the constitution (2018) was crafted by a stream with six BCP representatives and six UDC representatives. The constitution then went to the leading negotiating team, which effected some changes. The final negotiation level was the BCP and UDC presidents, who also agreed on some changes.
In the current set-up of the UDC, BNF should assume the project’s leadership as per the founding recommendation from a report prepared by then President of BMD, Gomolemo Motswadi and BNF Vice President, Same Bathobakae. The two leaders are deceased. The initial coalition agreement was premised on cooperation and unity, but it seems that events have overtaken it.
Some are adamant that UDC is not registered as a political party but just a conglomerate specified in its constitution. In contrast, others say otherwise — that it is a political party in its context.
WHAT JAMMED 2018 CONSTITUTION?
One of the UDC resolutions that stalled its execution was the proposed amendment of article 5.3 of the constitution, in which there is a call to replace ‘may’ with ‘shall’ so that it becomes mandatory.
It was also resolved that article 5 should include suspension and termination of membership and allow for voluntary termination and confer powers to suspend on the UDC NEC through simple majority, and powers to expel to an extraordinary congress.
The congress had also agreed that termination of membership, as stated in the old constitution, should be incorporated into the new constitution; hence there should be no individual membership within the UDC.
Delegates agreed that membership to the UDC shall only be through party affiliation. They argued that there is no logic in individual membership outside political parties as the rights of those individuals are not articulated.
Congress also agreed that the founding members should be mentioned in the constitution. In addition, they resolved that article 6.1 (f) Equitable should be replaced with proportional because the latter recognises the strength of the contracting parties.
Delegates also adopted the principle of consensus and a simple majority. They also agreed that contracting parties should subscribe to the UDC, and the amount of subscription should be moved to regulations and not specified in the constitution.
Those who attended the congress as delegates also resolved that the NEC should decide if the contribution amount should be proportionate to the membership base. There were also resolutions on article 7 to deal with congress, extraordinary congress, NEC, and Policy forum. It was adopted that the structure will not have either a women’s league or youth league.
Delegates also agreed that the principle of proportionality should be used instead of 10 members per constituency, and decision-making shall be by 2/3 majority or 50% of the constituency members.
Concerning the state of affairs within the main opposition party, Mohwasa said the negotiations with BPF and AP are still ongoing. Allocation of some wards (for by-elections) has been done, and the party is still to look at others that fell vacant after the conclusion of the initial process.
“It is not like when we don’t release a statement or have a press conference; we are not talking. At times, it helps to hold talks away from the glare of the public under the radar,” he concluded.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.
Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.
The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ, Patrick Thedi said, “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”
As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.
Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele, who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.
The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as well as bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.
TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050, has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.