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The backbench is a blessing- Kablay

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I am not quitting anytime soon- Kablay

Member of Parliament for Letlhakeng/ Lephepe, Liakat Kablay is delighted to have retained his position as BDP Chief Whip.

Although there have been allegations that he was disgruntled after he was yet again overlooked for a ministerial position, Kablay has dismissed such allegations in an interview with The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA.

Congratulations on your nomination.

I am very delighted by the re- election to the role of Chief whip by President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

It shows that I did things right in the last parliament and I promise to keep working hard for the country and for our party.

I have been criticised before for speaking to the media and being open minded and I thought I was not going to make a comeback as Chief Whip.

The nomination has motivated me to whip the MPs even more so that they do what is right in parliament.

There have been allegations that you were upset that you didn’t make it into cabinet.

I know those allegations but I was never upset. I was just happy that I retained my seat as an MP.

I worked hard for that. I worked under former President Ian Khama for 10 years and he never considered me for a Ministerial position.

One thing that you have to know is that being overlooked for a ministerial position can be a blessing in disguise.

Majority of former Ministers lost elections because they focused more on their Ministerial jobs and forgot about their constituencies, so maybe it is a blessing in disguise that I was left out.

If the man who chooses cabinet does not see that I deserve to be included, then there is nothing much I can say except to help in building our party.

Is there a particular Ministry you had wished to lead?

Yes, I want to be a Minister for Local Government, it is close to my heart.

I come from an impoverished constituency and from that ministry I could effectively push for more developments in the area.

What has been your first assignment as Chief Whip?

I have been in meetings with the backbench discussing our issues and our expectations.

We don’t want a situation where we don’t have answers for poor or no service delivery by government

What do you mean?

We want a good working relationship with Cabinet because we are from the same party.

Ministers are not supposed to undermine us.

Have you been undermined before?

Yes in the past, Ministers brought motions to parliament without even consulting us and then expected us to keep quite as if we were in the know.

We were then labeled as rebels who wanted to oust some from their positions but we could not just agree for the sake of agreeing.

What was happening in the 11th parliament should not happen in this sitting.

I have spoken to the Vice President about our concerns as the backbench.

Ministers must brief their Permanent Secretaries about the BDP Manifesto so that they see that it is implemented.

People voted us into power because of our manifesto and we must walk the talk.

Are you prepared for the motion of no confidence on HE if tabled again?

That motion is dead! People lied saying the opposition was asking support from us the backbench because we are disgruntled for not making it into cabinet. That’s a big lie.

If we remove Masisi then it gives opposition a chance to take over government and that is something that we don’t want.

We have confidence in Masisi and MPs must know that some of us were voted because of him, people were voting for Masisi not us and therefore we can not turn our backs on him.

There is talk of motion on floor crossing, what is your take?

Opposition should not rely on us for their motion on floor crossing.

I told the BDP MPs that those who will connive with opposition should kiss BDP goodbye.

We are certain that no one from our side will cross.

What about BDP getting members from opposition?

Yes it is possible.

Are you referring to Pono Moathodi?

Of course, I can bet with you, we are getting him before the end of next year.

Why do you say that?

He is one of us, he likes Masisi very much and every time the President makes his way into the house, Moathodi’s face lights up with joy.

He smiles, cracks jokes and even consults him more than us.

When are you retiring from politics?

I haven’t considered quitting maybe I will contest for the last time in 2024.

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Politics

Lockdown diaries

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With the country cautiously easing the lockdown restrictions originally enforced on April 3, The Voice’s DANIEL CHIDA talked to Members of Parliament from around the country to find out what roles they played in their areas during these trying times.

Molebatsi Shima Molebatsi – MP for Mmadinare

Initially MPs and Councillors were not included in the Covid-19 Task Forces, neither at district or village level.

Instead of taking a back seat, we consistently asked why political leadership was not included and that put pressure on government to include us.

I am currently dealing with some suspicious corrupt procurement deals in Mmadinare constituency, mostly in my constituency under Bobirwa Sub District.

There are projects that are associated with Covid 19 and with procurement done on an emergency basis. That has opened a can of worms in my constituency.

I am currently dealing with a situation where contractors from other constituencies are doing work in my constituency while we have capable local service providers in the constituency.

This week, together with Assistant Minister of Local Government, Sethabelo Modukanele, District Commissioner and Council Secretary we toured the council projects and the situation is not good at all!

In Mmadinare village, where I spent time because of lockdown, I was able to bring together businesses and form sector associations with steering committees in the following sectors: Construction industry, Agriculture specifically in Horticulture sector and Retail and General Supply.

We have also developed SMS and Whatsapp groups specific to each sector, where we conduct virtual meetings to discuss challenges, opportunities and programs available in Botswana.

This is a model I am spreading to the other 10 villages in my constituency.

I also started working on Local Economic Development Strategy for each village, starting with the main Mmadinare village.

The LED strategy is progressing well and in Mmadinare I have formed a LED Strategy team headed by a renowned Economist, Sennye Obuseng.

The LED Strategy is starting with Local Economic Assessment, which will do a study on local/village economic capability including demographic profiles, natural resources available in the village, community capabilities, institutions and the business environment.

At the end of it, each village will have a Local Development Advisory Board that will advise the village leadership and the communities in general on what resources are available to tap in at both community and individual level to develop economy of the village and businesses.

Yandani Boko – MP for Mahalapye East

I have been attending the Covid-19 briefings at Mahalapye Council Chambers every Monday from 10am until 12 noon.

Further, I have been working hand in hand with the Councillors of Mahalapye East in visiting families who did not receive food rations and assisting them in any manner we could.

Yandani Boko

I sourced funds from my friends and we supplied the people in the constituency with firewood, food and sanitary towels.

In the past few days I visited families who lost their loved ones and offered words of comfort to them.

I continue to urge our people to assist those in need and, as always I say, ‘Ba dipitse bonang ba dinao’.

Goretetse Kekgonegile – MP for Maun East

The post lockdown period has been hectic for me as a parliamentarian. The Food Relief distribution queries consumed most of my time.

I had to run around linking needy households with welfare workers and donors for food.

We still experience household’s food shortages and extend requests for donations to alleviate the sad situation.

Goretetse Kekgonegile

Workers wage subsidy, unlawful retrenchments, forced leaves and none salary payments exacerbated the poor employer/employee relations in the constituency.

I had to intervene continuously on behalf of workers.

Covid-19 protocols dictate continuous washing of hands which is problematic in areas and settlements outside the WUC water map. Hence my Councillors and I had to mobilise tanks for bowsing.

We had to provide guidance on the Council/Hawkers standoff concerning Maun Old Mall trading which also calls for a long-term solution.

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Politics

HE’s trip raises temperatures

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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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