The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) have taken their political wars to the High Court ahead of the 2024 general elections scheduled for next year.
In one corner, is the UDC and in another corner is the BDP and the BCP. This plays out in a case in which former North West District Council (NWDC) Council Chairperson, Kebareeditse Ntsogotho, and his deputy, Lekonne Masoko, who are members of the UDC are protesting their dismissal from office which was done through a vote of no confidence by councillors from BDP and BCP.
They were subsequently replaced by Itumeleng Kelebetseng of the BCP as Chairperson and Nico Folae of the BDP as Deputy Chairperson.
In his founding affidavit before Justice Reuben Lekorwe of the High Court, Ntsogotho prays for an Order reviewing and setting aside the Council’s decision to remove them from their position as Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Council respectively in its special full council sitting of the 30th May 2023 and/or the 31st May 2023.
He argues that the said decision to remove them from their position as Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the NWDC should be reviewed and set aside on the basis that it is invalid and unlawful.
Ntsogotho also wants the court to declare that the election and/or appointment of Kelebetseng and Folae as Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the NWDC be set aside on the basis that it is invalid and unlawful.
He wants the court to order that they be reinstated to the position of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson respectively with full rights and benefits that would have accrued but for their removal.
Providing a background of their ouster, Ntsogotho said nn the 25th May 2023 the Council’s Secretary issued a notice for special full council meeting to be held on the 30th May 2023. The said notice was issued pursuant to a request to convene a special full council meeting dated 19th May 2023 made by 20 ward councillors. The meeting was convened to discuss the following items: update on the water situation in Maun; update on the progress of the Maun General Hospital project.
A report on the first agenda item, “update on the progress of the Maun General Hospital project” was presented by an officer from the Department of Facilities Management.
“I gave Honourable Councillors an opportunity to deliberate on the said presentation. Honourable Ntlogelang Kebonyekgotla was the first member to take to the floor and instead of dealing with the said agenda item, he briefly pointed out certain aspects of the report and immediately moved a motion for removal of the 2nd Applicant (Masoko) and I from the offices of Vice Chairperson and Chairperson of the 1st Respondent respectively,” said Ntsogotho.
He said he warned Kebonyekgotla that he was now debating some other business which was not part of the agenda for the meeting of the 30th May 2023 and that was improper. He disregarded this advice and was supported by another member Moetetse Mogalakwe.
“I indicated that since they were insistent in proceeding with the removal motion, the second Applicant and I would step aside to allow the meeting to decide on the matter since we are conflicted. We did so and the House elected the 2nd Respondent (Folae) as an interim Chairperson,” said Ntsogotho.
He said before Folae assumed the said interim position, the Council Secretary warned the house that the issue pertaining “to our removal from office was a new item which was not on his notice of 25th May 2023 and therefore it was unlawful.”
Ntsogotho said after taking over, Folae ignored the advice and proceeded with the debate relating to our removal from office and ultimately a vote was conducted over our removal.
“20 members voted for our removal and 6 voted against our removal. My position in opposing the introduction of the removal of the 2nd Applicant and I from the office is that once a notice of a special full council meeting is issued with agenda items, at such a meeting, it shall not be permissible to discuss any other business or add other agenda items during the course of such a special full council meeting,” said Ntsogotho. He said the Special full council meeting lacks the competency to add the motion of no confidence on us such a move had the effect of adding other agenda items to the two that were contained in the notice of 25th May 2023.
“For this reason alone, if no other, the decision to remove us must be set aside. After our purported removal from office, the meeting was adjourned to 1530 hours for purposes of electing new Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson,” said Ntsogotho. He said at this stage, the meeting was still chaired by Folae.
“As a matter of fact, no election was held as the two were nominated unopposed and they were simply confirmed as such. The Second Applicant and I did not attend the afternoon session as we believed that the move to convene a sitting for election of new council leadership was clearly and awfully wrong,” said Ntsogotho.
He added that “ In the premises, whichever way one looks at it, there is no other way to classify the afternoon session except to say that it was a continuation of the morning special full council sitting and alternatively it was a special full council sitting called without due notice.”
BDP MPs push for selective primaries
Most of the incumbent Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawmakers predict a demanding and challenging 2024 general elections, and as a result they are praying that the party leadership consider a selective primary elections model later this year.
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For the first time, the BDP is expected to hold the internal elections late, with the more probable dates being October/November. For the MPs who are feeling the heat, this might do more bad than good for the party that will get a challenge way stronger than that of experienced in the 2014 elections.
There are a number of factors that will make the elections difficult, according the MPs. The results of the past by-elections, dwindling socio-economic wellbeing of the populace, declining confidence on the President Mokgweetsi Masisi, among a raft of many others including the health care, suggest that the BDP might be entering unchartered waters next year. Some are even accusing the party of not having a clear strategy on how they are going to win elections.
With these, the legislators believe that for the party to succeed in the upcoming elections, a proper method that will allow them to win most of the 61 constituencies is needed. The MPs are of the view that the Central Committee (CC) wing of Political Education and Electoral Committee (PEEC) should be given mandate to tour all the constituencies in a bid to check how they are likely to perform next year.
“The idea is we can see, how tough it is going to be. So the PEEC, must assess the constituencies to check if it is winnable or not by examining the voting patterns and the general mood of the voters in a particular location. We are also suggesting that even the candidates, should be put on a scale to see if they have the tenacity to bring the constituencies back to the BDP. Because some of the candidates in parliament we can see that they are gone, even if they could win primaries, then general elections we are doomed. But some we can also see, their strength and popularity in their respective constituencies and staging the primaries will be waste of time and to a larger extent a scheme to divide the party after primaries,” three backbenchers echoed the same in a separate interviews.
Already all the 61, except three constituencies have candidates who are just waiting for the writ to be issued before they can publicly campaign.
This is not the first time the ruling party MPs suggested this, in 2021 they also recommended that there should be no primaries, an idea which was thrown to the dustbin by the party leadership.
The party accumulated 38 out of 57 constituencies in the last polls. For the party to win the highly anticipated elections in 2024, the MPs believed the current constituencies (that they hold) could assist securing next polls as well, provided primary elections are avoided.
“We always come out of the primaries very polarized because some feel hard done especially by the system and this end up pushing them to support our opponents,” one lawmaker said.
“We have lost a number of constituencies in the past because of this, but now we thought it would be prudent not to have the primary elections so that the incumbents will work the ground well on time and prepare for the elections.”
The matter was discussed at the party parliamentary caucus albeit without success. The MPs prayed that the primary elections be held only in 19 constituencies held by the opposition.
In fact at one point the matter even reached the party’s Central Committee (CC) meeting where there was also another suggestion to hold primaries in the opposition areas this year.
“This was to allow for ample time for the winners in primaries to also have enough time to prepare for the general elections,” one CC member has confided to this publication.
The idea to hold them early according to our source was to give winners enough time to work the ground for 2024.
The MPs proposal, however, has not been warmly welcomed by the party leadership, who believe in the free flowing of democracy.
Party Chief Whip Liakat Kablay however completely disagree with the submissions by his fellow MPs.
“To me I think it would very improper not to have the primary elections because we embrace democracy as a party. Again should we agree with this, we could lose elections as we would have imposed people to our electorates and that could push them to even connive with the opposition because there was never a contest. Democracy is all about the numbers everyone should contest and the current MPs should not fear that.”
He continued to add that should they not hold the primary elections, it will encourage complacency from the legislators and not campaign.
“And you can guess, we would lose because elections is a competition, it needs hard work. So if we leave them to go to the general elections without a test they will embarrass us where it matters the most.”
Prior to 2019 elections the BDP at an Extra Ordinary Congress in Mogoditshane agreed that as a party strategy to kill the opposition momentum the party held primary elections in 2017, two year before elections. This however was done in opposition held constituencies.
The plan was complete with timetables, timelines and deadlines, by then the BDP staged its primary elections for its candidates in the 19 opposition held constituencies between 1st to 17 July 2017, thereafter it held others in 2018.
The roles of PAP committees explained
Permanent Committees of the Pan African Parliament facilitate the effective implementation of the policies and objectives of the OAU/AEC.
The PAP Permanent Committees roles were eloquently explained by the PAP President Hon. Chief Fortune Zephania Charumbira when giving a presentation on the mandate of the permanent committees of the PAP on Tuesday in Midrand, South Africa. Charumbira’s words of encouragement come on the backdrop of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) members are attending the PAP Permanent Committee meetings that started on March 5-9 in Midrand, South Africa.
The mandate of PAP is to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent, therefore the permanent committees provide oversight to ensure effective implementation of policies.
According to Charumbira, effective implementation will drive the Africa Agenda 2063, African Continental Free Trade Area, AU Shared Values, Flagship Projects such the Inga Dam Project, Single African Air Transport Market, among others; and further facilitate attainment of AU Theme of the Year: “The Year of AFCTFTA: Accelerating the AFCFTA Implementation”.
Relatedly, the objectives of the Pan-African Parliament promote the principles of human rights and democracy in Africa; encourage good governance, transparency and accountability in Member States; Promote peace, security and stability; Contribute to a more prosperous future for the peoples of Africa by promoting collective self-reliance and economic recovery; Facilitate cooperation and development in Africa; Strengthen Continental solidarity and build a sense of common destiny among the peoples of Africa; and Facilitate cooperation among Regional Economic Communities and their Parliamentary fora.
THE PAP PERMANENT COMMITTEES
(a) The Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment;
(b) The Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs;
(c) The Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters;
(d) The Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolutions;
(e) The Committee on Transport, Industry, Communications, Energy, Science and Technology;
(f) The Committee on Health, Labor and Social Affairs;
(g) The Committee on Education, Culture, Tourism and Human Resources;
(h) The Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability;
(i) The Committee on Justice and Human Rights;
(j) The Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline;
The Committees shall handle business that is ordinarily handled by the corresponding Specialized Technical Committee responsible to the Executive Council in accordance with Article 14 of the Constitutive Act.
SPECIFIC FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMITTEES
As for the specific functions of the committees, the Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment amongst other functions: Considers the development of common regional and continental policies in agricultural sector; Assists the Parliament to oversee and assist with the harmonization of policies for rural and agricultural development; and promotes the development policy and the implementation of programs of the Union relating to natural resources and environment.
On the other hand, the Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs shall, amongst others: Examines the draft estimates of the Parliamentary budget and submit to Parliament; Discusses the budget of the Union and make appropriate recommendations; Examines and report to Parliament on the problems involved in the implementation of the annual budget; and Assists Parliament to execute its role of establishing sound economic, monetary and investment policies.
Meanwhile the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters amongst other roles: Considers matters relating to development of sound policy for cross-border, regional and continental concerns within the areas of trade, customs and immigration; Assists the Parliament to oversee relevant organs or institutions and policies of the Union; and Helps the Parliament to oversee external trade.
The Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolutions shall, amongst others: Considers issues relating to the development of an efficient policy in matters of cooperation and international relations of the Parliament and the Union; Deals with the conventions and protocols linking the Parliament with regional and international institutions and report to the Parliament; Carries out examinations on the revision of Protocols and Treaties of the Union; Assists the Parliament in its efforts of conflict prevention and resolution.
The Committee on Transport, Industry, Communications, Energy, Science and Technology shall, amongst others: Considers issues relating to the development of transport and communications infrastructure; Assists Parliament to oversee the development and implementation of policies of the Union relating to transport, communication, science and technology and industry; Considers issues relating to the use of science and technology for the development of the Continent; Helps Parliament to supervise the development policies and the Union implementation programs for matters of industry, science, technology and energy.
The Committee on Health, Labor and Social Affairs deals with strategies and programs for the improvement of the lives of African peoples; Considers issues relating to regional and international cooperation in strategic planning and implementation of social development and health policies and programs.
The Committee on Education, Culture, Tourism and Human Resources shall, amongst others: Considers issues relating to the development of human resources in Member States;Assists Parliament to promote policy development and implementation of programs of the Union relating to access to education, promotion and preservation of culture and tourism and human resource development.
The Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability shall, amongst others: Considers issues relating to the promotion of gender equality; Assists
More nurses heading for the UK
According to a report, the number of nurses leaving Botswana for better-paying jobs in the United Kingdom has increased significantly. This development has the potential to negatively impact the country’s struggling health sector.
Kenosi Mogorosi, the publicity secretary of the Botswana Nurses Union (BONU), in a letter addressed to union members on March 22, 2023, provides a comprehensive analysis of the factors that have affected the country’s nursing fraternity.
Through an agreement with the National Health Service (NHS), BONU was able to help facilitate the transfer of nurses from Botswana to the UK.
In a letter to the country’s nurses, Mogorosi stated that the recruitment firms Swift Trust and NEU Professionals would be coming to the country to look for 20 adult medical health nurses each.
“Submission of CV’s will be done at Lobatse Cumberland hotel on the 27th of March 2023 and Gaborone BONU offices on the 28 March 2023. Subsequently conducting interviews at Lobatse Cumberland Hotel on the 3rd April 2023 and Gaborone Hilton Garden Hotel on the 4th April 2023,” said Mogorosi.
He added that “This comes short notice because the trust is already in Southern Africa and could not reach its target in Zambia, hence coming to Botswana. All nurses who will be shortlisted for interviews should ensure that they mention that they were referred by BONU for easy coordination of sponsorship including English language tests.”
He also stated that “Since its short notice, nurses need not to travel from far places hence nurses around Lobatse and Gaborone can ensure they do submit their CVS.”
BONU is also working with the UK’s NHS to help its members secure jobs overseas as the country is going through a recruitment drive to address its shortage of 40,000 nurses.
This will increase the nursing vacancy rate in Botswana, which currently stands at over 30%. It is expected to further cripple the country’s already struggling health sector.
Last year, the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) said it offered roles to more than 60 nurses from Botswana. The Recruitment team at EPUT spent eight days in Botswana interviewing hundreds of nurses interested in a career with the NHS. Nesta Williams, Director of Workforce Transformation and International Recruitment, at the time said said: “We’re delighted that 66 nurses have chosen to take the next step in their nursing career with EPUT.”
“The interview panel was impressed by the applicants’ commitment to their patients, understanding of good team working, and their approach to providing excellent care.
“Some of the nurses are trained in both mental health and physical health, and this means they could choose to work in a range of services.”
The NHS’s clinical workforce is the largest in the world. Nurses play a vital role in delivering person-centered care.
Professor Natalie Hammond, Executive Nurse, said: “The last two years of the pandemic have been extremely challenging. A robust nursing workforce helps us provide safe care, meet the needs of our communities, and is key to achieving our vision be the leading health and wellbeing service in the provision of mental health and community care.”
“It’s an exciting time; our EPUT clinicians will have opportunities to share their experience and expertise with our new colleagues from Botswana.”
A recruitment team of the Essex Partnership University NHS Trust spent eight days in Botswana two weeks ago during which they say they interviewed “hundreds of applicants” who want to work in the UK.
In the first round of their recruitment campaign in Botswana, the NHS had hired 66 nurses from the huge parade of applicants and revealed that more recruitments are expected to follow.
Indications are that a nurse in England earns an average P52 000 per month; and the figure goes up to P70 000 for a nurse in Ireland and other places in the UK. In Botswana a registered nurse earns between P12 000 and P20 000.