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Increase constituencies- Kekgonegile



There is a national outcry of none parliamentary representation of women, people with disabilities, gays and lesbians in parliament.

Outspoken Member of Parliament for Maun East, Goretetse Kekgonegile’s maiden parliamentary contribution this week has not been without controversy.

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) member’s view to have the number of constituencies increased, left fellow legislators and the public gallery with dropped jaws and social media awash with mixed opinions.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA caught up with the former trade unionist who also called for an inclusive representation that caters for marginalized groups including gays and lesbians.

You have been in parliament for more than four months now, what is your impression?

Being an MP is a tough job with huge responsibilities, long hours and massive expectations from the nation.

I am of the view that the 12th parliament is vibrant and has hit the ground running.

The working relationship is positive, especially with Ministers hence my belief that there will be a significant paradigm shift at the end of 5 years if extreme party partisan politics does not emerge during the course of our term.

You recently responded to the SONA and Budget speeches, what were your talking points?

The SONA didn’t give much indications to where the country will be in the next five years.

No timelines were set on specific issues such as constitutional review, no job targets, no education crisis fixing mechanisms, independence of parliament and others. It was more of ongoing projects progress report.

The budget speech was quite inspirational on a number of sectors and far lacking on others with continuation of BDP fixation on unnecessary excessive military spending at the expense of growing sectors which could add value to the livelihoods of a common person.

Expectation of a transformational and diversification development budget is to spend more on manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, sports and arts, not military assets.

This week you raised a point in Parliament on the need to increase constituencies, explain it further.

The fact remains the load of work of parliamentarians in the North West, Kgalagadi, Ghanzi, Southern, Kweneng and Central is overwhelming.

Given that Batswana may keep direct representation through first past the post electoral system, the delimitation exercise must add at least 15 to the current 57 to make 72 constituencies.

There is a national outcry of non-parliamentary representation of women, people with disabilities, gays and lesbians, which the constitutional and electoral reviews must address through proportional representation of at least 20%, resulting in a hybrid electoral system.

That will add 15 to the 72 and end up with 87 constituencies in the country and that is my view of addressing excessive load of work of some parliamentarians and the out cry of the marginalized groups.

What’s you view on the call to downsize the number of Ministries?

Currently Cabinet makes 40% of the total parliament and 60% of BDP parliamentarians, hence all Cabinet decisions are rubber stamped in BDP caucuses and in parliament.

The arrangement will never be beneficial to any democratic dispensation as it benefits the President in getting his decisions through the structures rather than the country.

Secondly, we are a small economy with a very small population of which our emphasis should be on strong policies and protocols rather than number of people overseeing these protocols and policies. Cabinet must be reduced to at least 18.

The UDC filed a petition against vote rigging and BCP as coalition partners was a bit quiet, why?

It was a UDC petition and handled at UDC level through UDC structures supported by all members.

We are not yet a merger hence structures are led by deployees from individual parties and depending on the project at hand, it may happen that cadres handling one UDC project are deployees from one party as they are leading those structures.

Given the public scrutiny as per your question, maybe going forward we should be cautious that deployment in structures and projects is reflective of all of us.

Is it not because you (BCP) didn’t believe there was ever any rigging?

Even those who didn’t believe that 2019 elections were rigged must have been convinced by the attitude of the IEC by strongly blocking every effort to verify their facts.

I am of the view that we started the process late as pointers show that even the 2014 elections were rigged of which we should have requested for their verification.

At party level, which position are you intending to contest for?

I intend to contest for the Publicity Secretary post though consultations are ongoing.

What is the way forward for the UDC working model?

Political coalitions remain the future of modern day politics but we can’t be coalitions forever, there comes a time when we must talk beyond coalitions otherwise this five year political circle will be our destiny into eternity.

What legacy do you intend to leave behind?

I would love to raise the representation bar high so that in my absence our representation remains good quality.

I also intend to build strong bonds among community institutions for checks and balances, and ensuring better livelihoods for our people.

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HE’s trip raises temperatures



HE's trip raises temperatures

On Tuesday morning, President Mokgweetsi Masisi flew to Harare for an Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

HE was invited by the current SADC Chairperson, Emmerson Mnangagwa, with the Zambian and Mozambique Presidents, Edgar Lungu and Filipe Nyusi also in attendance.

According to Office of the President, it was decided that a face-to-face meeting was necessary considering the sensitivity of the issues up for discussion.

However, this did not go down well with many Batswana, who labeled the trip unnecessary and accused Masisi of failing to lead by example.

Having already been quarantined twice, although it only lasted a day, the Zimbabwe trip means Masisi is now set for a third 14-day stint in quarantine.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA talked to various leaders and political analysts to get their take on Masisi’s foreign escapades.

HE's trip raises temperatures
Moeti Mohwasa – UDC Head of Communications

While the UDC acknowledges and appreciates the importance of international cooperation, it is disturbed by the President’s inability to balance that with the threat that international travel poses to the nation’s health and in particular the outbreak and control of Covid-19. Our President currently ranks high amongst the leaders who have breached or disregarded the rules they have set for their people!

It is unfortunate that our leader prefers to always hide in quarantine at a time when we need his visibility in the fight against Coronavirus.

In the light of the current situation it would have been prudent for President Masisi to participate through Zoom or Skype.

This would have sent a strong message about his full commitment to the fight against the virus.

We need leaders who don’t just say ‘do as I say’ but also lead by example.

What Masisi is saying to the nation is that you can just breach the Covid-19 regulation as you wish as long as you are prepared to be subjected to 14-day quarantine. This is wrong.

HE's trip raises temperatures
Biggie Butale – BPF President

These Presidential trips to Corona-challenged countries in the middle of a crisis seem to indicate a President with mixed priorities.

We have lost our CEO for 42-days due to him being unnecessarily quarantined during Botswana’s greatest ever hour of need.

I wonder what would have happened if we could have been without the Director of Health for this long although the President is a higher decision maker.

Maybe his presence or absence is immaterial?

Perhaps the question to ask is why the President feels it absolutely urgent to attend meetings that are not life-and-death matters whilst leaving life-and-death matters in his own backyard?

Could it be we have the absolutely wrong person as CEO who does not understand that we as a country might be entering an apocalyptic period of our existence?

Could it be that he is running away from the pressure? Could it be that he is just overwhelmed?

Kebapetse Lotshwao – Political Analyst
Ideally, the President should not be going to Zimbabwe.

However, the realities on the ground dictate that he goes.

The first reality is the fact that Botswana is the incoming chair of SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

As incoming chair, Botswana has to work closely with the current and previous chairs.

Secondly, there are threats to peace and stability in the region, particularly in Mozambique and Lesotho.

These threats have to be resolved, and by their sensitive nature may require face-to-face discussion to avoid infiltration.

HE's trip raises temperatures
Tobokani Rari – BOFEPUSU Secretary General

Truly speaking leaders should lead by example.

The standards set cannot be enforced for the ordinary citizens to the exception of those in positions of power; that would be terrible as this would mean they are some above the law.

Honestly I tried to listen to the reasons advanced by Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang to justify the President’s need to physically attend the Zimbabwe meeting, but I could not be convinced.

Elsewhere in Africa, South Africa to be specific, and President Ramaphosa suspended a Minister for breaking the Covid Protocol – that shows exemplary leadership!

HE's trip raises temperatures
Phenyo Butale – AP Secretary General

Governments all over the world have stopped movements to control the Coronavirus pandemic.

It would appear the government of Botswana has only done this in writing, as in practice they do the opposite.

Where pressing matters are/were to be discussed we have seen Heads of State using teleconferencing to conduct their meetings.

For instance, The East African Community has held several teleconference meetings about Covid-19 and other issues of concern.

The continental body, African Union (AU) has also been holding meetings and conducting its business, through teleconferencing facilities.

Just two weeks ago, President Masisi participated in a meeting of SADC leaders held via teleconference.

Further afield, the 46th G7 summit, which was scheduled to be held next month in Camp David, United States, will now be conducted by video conference.

It is worrisome that the President does not learn even from such a growing trend among world leaders and the global community.

We have in the recent past, communicated our displeasure on the President’s conduct of flouting with impunity the Covid-19 rules and regulations.

This continued violation of the regulations puts a strain on the efforts of officers charged with enforcing them.

Up to today, no one, not even the President himself, can adequately account for the Namibia trip save to say ‘it was for a damn good reason’.

For a Government that parrots 4IR [Fourth Industrial Revolution] at any given opportunity this is an embarrassing form of doublespeak.

We are concerned about the government’s growing reputation of saying one thing and doing the exact opposite.

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The back bench that came to the party



The back bench that came to the party

MPs Healy, Greeff’s impressive input during (COVID 19) debate

After a successful 28 – day-extreme distancing protocol to curb the spread of the novel Corona Virus, President Mokgweetsi Masisi called another emergency parliamentary meeting this week for Members of Parliament to debate the motion on the affirmation of the Emergency Powers (COVID -19) (Amendment) (No.4) 2020 Regulations.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA followed the Boipuso Hall broadcast on national television and watched from the comfort of his home as the backbenchers put on a sterling performance.

Member of Parliament for Francistown West, Ignatius Moswaane and Mephato Reatile of Jwaneng Mabutsane were in their element as usual but it was the underdogs, Christian Greeff, of Gaborone Bonnington South and Tumisang Healy of Gaborone Central who took many by surprise with their impressive contributions to the debates.

The two have been too quiet in parliament before but below is what they said yesterday much to the delight of many.

The back bench that came to the party

“My constituency is the most affected. Out of 15 974 households assessed, only 1 540 have been given food and this is not even 50% of the population of the constituency. The worst part is that majority of the people in places like Phase 4 and Block 9 were overlooked simply because their houses look decent. The constituency is dominated by informal sector being taxi and cab drivers, driving schools and vendors and it will be a good idea to open up for them to start their operations within COVID-19 protocols because by so doing we would offload the burden of social welfare provision from government. Our electricity tariff has also gone up and donating food only is not enough and therefore I call on the President to intervene concerning that.”

The back bench that came to the party

“I am against the idea of people having to foot their own hotel quarantine bills as part of the amendments have suggested. This would be a major setback in fighting this virus because we have been doing very well so far with government catering to the needs of the sick and suspected patients. It would be best if we continue with the system that we have in place as it has given us positive results so far. Since we have been encouraging people to work from home, there should be provisions of laptops in their hampers to assist with that. I am also against the idea of food distribution but suggest that we credit money into COVID 19 debit cards for people to buy groceries for themselves.

My constituency has complied with lockdown restrictions very well so I suggest that we relax some of the restrictions a bit and allow the sale of alcohol. Bottle Stores should be allowed to trade and deliver to their clients. Alcohol is consumed by adults. I therefore expect them to be responsible to make better decisions for their own safety. Regarding the opening of businesses, it will be helpful to have Safety Health and Environment (SHE) officer to monitor and make sure that all the required procedures are adhered to. SHE officers should be the ones helping in taking temperatures of customers and making sure clients are wearing masks and keeping their hands clean. However, I thank government for recognising the disabled people and exempting them from all the COVID- 19 protocol requirements.”

The back bench that came to the party

“We have to come up with a timeline for all food hampers to be distributed. We cannot have people locked in their homes for five weeks without food and pretend that everything is going accordingly. I want to notify this house, especially Minister Molale (Local Government and Rural Development) that his officers are not giving him a true picture of what is happening on the ground. We have an acute shortage of social workers and this makes the process of assessing and distributing food very slow. Another issue that needs to be solved is the dispute between landlords and tenants as there has been no clear picture on what is going to happen during this time. Informal sector has been left out too and it is time we introduced a grant to assist small and medium enterprises to recover from the adverse effects of COVID 19.

The back bench that came to the party

“I have a problem with how the zones were demarcated because most of the workers from Jwaneng Mine commute from Kanye and it will mean applying for a permit all the time as they will be travelling from one zone to another everyday. Our President should advise landlords that by not collecting rentals, they would have contributed to the COVID-19 Fund like other businesses. I also ask that after the 8th to 15th phase of the lockdown, we must do away with zones and allow free movement.”

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