Although she waged a spirited campaign, Dr. Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi’s presidential bid was littered with many faultlines that culminated in her last minute pullout to the dismay of multitudes of BDP faithful.
The nation’s hope and anticipation had built over time on who would win the historic presidential race. The campaign was tough and at one point involved legal action in which three judges recused themselves to avoid any semblance of bias or perceived relationship with any of the parties.
What gave rise to the court case is the fact that Moitoi had submitted a list of people that she said were delegates to Secretary General, Mpho Balopi in compliance with Article 29.3 of the BDP constitution. Balopi received Moitoi‘s letter accompanied with names of her 50 delegates but he noticed that 26 of them were Councillors and therefore not delegates.
Balopi told Botswana Guardian that he wrote to Moitoi that, “according to our reading of Article 26.4 of the constitution and also the legal opinion that the party had sought from the party lawyers, Councillors are not party delegates and therefore once those people are removed from the list, it means she does not comply”. Moitoi was then advised to comply, and to do her due diligence to ensure that people that she is submitting are delegates.
Balopi said after receipt of that letter, an urgent application, “we were served on Wednesday afternoon and required to be in court at 8; 30 am the next morning. “The application was bulky, which led to the attorneys working the entire night to respond and actually had to call me as I was just leaving for Kang to come back so that I could give them an affidavit.”
Three weeks prior to the party writing to Moitoi, the party had obtained legal opinion that the only delegates template by Article 29.3 and 29.3.1 are delegates as defined by article 26.4.2 of the BDP constitution. The attendees of the national congress are all members of the national council (Article 27.3) and they are: Members of the Central Committee, MPs of the party, all regional chairpersons, all branch chairpersons and their secretaries, all members of the inner executive committee of the Youth, Women’s wing executive, one councillor from each branch, while members of the sub committees of the central committees may attend as observers.
The second group of attendees is eight (8) delegates from each branch of the 57 constituencies bringing the total to 456 delegates as well as all Councillors. All the above have voting rights. Each constituency has to bring observers.
It was on the strength of the legal opinion that Moitoi was advised in her list that at least 26 were not delegates in accordance with the BDP constitution.
The Party lawyers raised a number of points in limine and argued them in court, which acceeded to three points being; that, the matter was not urgent as Moitoi had known as far back as 17th December 2018 that she was going to contest. She has been a Central Committee member for long, she knew the process and it ought not to have taken her by surprise that the rules were the ones that are in place. She argued that the constitution does not provide rules, and in court it was demonstrated that there were rules.
The post of a party president is that of a member of the Central Committee in accordance with Article 28, and the constitution provides for elections of central committee members with the difference being while the elections for CC are done every two years, the election for president is held on elections year only. The second point Moitoi had not demonstrated that she had locus standi in court showing that she has a demonstrable right to be before the court.
The confusion arose from the fact that BDP constitution states that for one to qualify as a candidate for the post of the presidency for the party, one must also qualify to be president of Botswana under Article 29.3.3 of the constitution. The constitution states for one to be president of Botswana one must be a citizen by birth or descent. In her founding affidavit she did not state whether she is a citizen by birth or descent instead she only stated that she is a Member of Parliament. The judges ruled that Section 33(1) of the Botswana Constitution state that a person shall qualify to be a president of Botswana if he/she is a citizen of Botswana by birth or descent.
Although there were arguments on the definition of delegate, the court did not rule on it because it was raised as one of the points in limine. Before the court process Moitoi’s lawyers had indicated that they would like to explore the possibility whether the matter could be resolved amicably and they requested to meet with President Masisi. Balopi gave the go ahead and the president was willing to meet them. When the case was set to resume at 2pm the meeting had been set for 11.30. The president and his team waited for about an hour. The president extended an olive branch that although Moitoi’s 26 Councillors are not delegates, for the purpose of the selection the party can accept them as delegates.
Moitoi demanded to be given a voters’ roll but Masisi told her that he also does not have it, however, Balopi can provide it so that she has time to inspect it before the election. Moitoi’s other concerns included wanting to know who the election commissioners were and to be assured of the fairness and transparency of the elections. She was assured there will be international observers, voting will be done in the presence of observers, media and diplomatic corps.
There would also be verification before and after reconciliation.Moitoi requested for congress to be postponed to July. The party told her that is not possible as people are already in Kang. Further there are rules that she could have followed if she wanted the congress postponed. In Kang the Commissioners called for the names of both Masisi and Venson, but the latter did not confirm her candidacy as she had withdrawn.
Umbrella for Democratic Change Parliamentary candidate for Gaborone Bonnington South says he is standing for political office to pursue the agenda of the working class and the poor who are marginalised in the economy. Ketlhalefile Motshegwa a renowned trade unionist is currently Secretary General for BLLAWU and Deputy Secretary for Botswana Federation of Public Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU).
He was recently criticised for having failed to disclose his interest in political office. In an interview with Botswana Guardian this week Motshegwa said that after being approached by the UDC he made consultations and has now arrived at a decision to contest for parliamentary election in Gaborone Bonnington South constituency. This is the constituency that he stayed at for some time and voted at in 2014. “Upfront I indicate my respect for those I will be contesting with. They are my fellow citizens whom together we are creating diversity of choice for our people and for functionality and nurturing of our democracy.
“Democracy is about competition, and nobody should be faulted or persecuted for merely availing themselves for democratic process such as elections in a Republican set up. “In our team, in advancing my candidature and those of council candidates, we will be conducting a clean, mature, ethical, progressive and issue-based campaign. We are focused on the elections, and our ideas to the people to solve their problems. This country so much yearns for solution-oriented leaders,” he explained.
He believes issues that have to be dealt with unapologetically and with vigour are those of ideological and policy orientation. He argued that there is need to dismantle a system that protects the power and privilege of the few against the interests and needs of the many.
This needs a radical shift on policy framework hinged on ideological orientation, he stated adding that policies should talk about the workers, the poor, youth, women and disabled people.Motshegwa said he would focus on review of the constitution and efforts for enhancement of the country’s democracy. He believes that the economic gains of this country must benefit all Batswana and that in modern times advocacy should be for the socio-economic, political and psychological independence from those neo-colonial mentality.
“Focus must be on the struggle of the working class and the peasants. The working class or labouring class are the people employed for wages, especially in manual-labour occupations and industrial work. This class has nothing to sell but their labour power and skills and they have a challenge of access to economic resources. “That is even worse for the poor who are living in sorrows, agony and some having lost hope to the extent of wishing death upon themselves daily. So far, we have been walking around, having chats with the people in Gaborone Bonnington South.
“They share stories that touch the heart, with feeling and meaning. Some of those are the most beautiful stories to hear as they are moving and inspirational. On the other hand, some are stories of agony and despair arising from abject poverty. The stories of people who have lost hope and are only seeking death a solution to depart from this earth. When I see their tears, I can’t help but shed my own,” posited Motshegwa.
According to the aspiring legislator the “Motshegwa For Gaborone Bonnington South campaign” is driven by principles of respect of human rights and premised on human centered development. “Our campaign is to go and revolutionise parliament to bring about radical legal and policy shift to care for the workers, the poor, youth, the disabled, the old people, and robustly push for effective citizenship economic empowerment,” he argues.
Motshegwa explained that his team understands very well that they have a responsibility to cleanse our politics and ensure that people respect politics and politicians, in order to do away with bad notions attached to politics as a dirty vocation. He said politics should be about listening to and serving people, creating ideas as solutions to socio-economic and political predicaments of the country.
“We want a great Botswana where the economy benefits all and human rights are respected and nurtured. We will be fearless, uncompromising and unapologetic in demanding economic independence for the people of this country’s people and social justice. “We cannot afford to have a rich country with poor people, this we are moving to stop”.
Botswana needs to create one (1) million jobs until the middle of the century if she is to achieve full employment. But, according to the Demographic Dividend report, in order to maintain the current unemployment rate the country will have to create 340 000 jobs until 2050.
Ambassador of the European Union to Botswana and SADC, Jan Sadek shared these staggering statistics recently during the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Sector (TVET) communication campaign dubbed “Making TVET cool”. Sadek said that demographic developers in Botswana will see thousands of young people enter the labour market in coming decades, in a context where the formal labour market is still small.
He advised that youth need to be empowered with skills that meet the market requirements of technical skills, soft skills and work ethics in order to get jobs.Entrepreneurial skills must be complemented by policies that support entrepreneurship in order to create self-sustained employment, he said. Sadek said that providing youth with access to education and Technical and Vocational Training is of paramount importance. “If we want to boost investment and create jobs, skills need to be matched with demands of the labor market,” he said.
He added that TVET increases employability by equipping the youth with the technical skills to meet labour market needs and opportunities. The campaign is aimed at changing the perception that society already has regarding TVET as programme targeting students with minimum pass rate. He added that TVET and skills training do not create jobs themselves, but that jobs are created by the private sector. “The active engagement of the private sector in all levels of the TVET system is fundamental to increase its quality and relevance through apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job training,” said Sadek.
He said making TVET an effective driver for the country’s economic and social development needs concerted efforts and actions of all stakeholders.“It requires a well-functioning governance framework that incorporates and balances stakeholders’ different interests, expectations and potentials through strong collaboration of public and private actors at all levels,” he said. Sadek shared that the EU is supporting skills development in several countries in the SADC region and that in Botswana they have a budget support programme targeting TVET reforms that amounts to 13 MUER.
A representative of Changing Parents’ Persperctives on TVET, Victoria Damame concurred that a lot of parents perceive TVET to be meant for the less academically gifted students, which limits the potential and impact of the programme. “This is supported by certain views like vigorous entry requirements. Students who enrol for TVET mostly have less points and that even goes to an extent of hindering those with higher qualifications to choose a TVET course because a parent won’t allow it, with that perception that TVET is for the less academic students,” she said.
To meet the goals of the UN Paris Agreement, decision makers from across the world have gathered in Berlin, Germany to identify best practices necessary for an efficient, rapid energy transition from fossil fuels like coal to renewable energy.
Speaking at the start of the 5th Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD) on Tuesday, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier said a successful energy transition needs to be conceived globally and holistically. Altmaier said the holistic approach requires the energy shift to be successful in all sectors, and the socio-economic elements to be taken into account throughout. The energy transition is a successful model attracting increasing international attention, given the available technological developments and innovations.
A huge range of tried-and-tested technologies are being used in more and more countries to facilitate clean energy supplies and create prosperity while protecting resources and the climate, as the energy transition is not merely a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
During the event that attracted 50 ministers and high-level delegates, industry players and civil society representatives from over 100 countries; constituting over 2000 guests, Heiko Maas, the German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs said the energy transition is also upending political constants. Maas explained that using renewable energy enables states to improve their own energy security.
“Energy is losing its potency as the geopolitical instrument we have known for decades,” he said. Adding that countries that are transforming their energy economy can be more independent in pursuing their strategic and foreign-policy interests. Sharing Maas’ sentiments, at the sidelines of the BETD, Francesco La Camera, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said the shift towards renewables makes sense.
By mid-century, he expounded that the global economy would be larger, and jobs created in the energy sector would boost global employment by 0.2 percent. Policies to promote a just, fair and inclusive transition he also said could maximise the benefits for different countries, regions, and communities, consequently accelerating the achievement of affordable and universal energy access. “The global energy transformation goes beyond transformation of the energy sector. It is transformation of our economies and societies,” he said.
As the urgency to take climate action grows, a new analysis by IRENA titled ‘Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050’, which was launched on Tuesday at the BETD, found that scaling-up renewable energy combined with electrification could deliver more than three quarters of the energy-related emission reductions needed to meet global climate goals. According to the report, pathways to meet 86 percent of the global power demand with renewable energy exist.
The renewable energy transition has inspired dialogue across the world as it is considered the most effective and readily-available solution for reversing the trend of rising CO2 emissions. The BETD event is coupled by the Berlin Energy Week which consists of side-events before and after the conference. It is hosted by the Germany Federal Government in partnership with the German Renewable Energy Federation and the German Solar Industry Association.
In the past years the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD) has become a leading international forum for key stakeholders of the energy sector.This year, it will be complemented by the Tech Festival of the Start Up Energy Transition (SET) initiative, the hub Berlin, the Future Mobility Summit, the Future of Offshore Windpower, the Drawdown Europe, the IDTechEx, the Electric Vehicles and the German Business Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF).
Proper mentorship and support strategies should be put in place to ensure that entrepreneurs stay focused on their goals, says 2019 Creative Business Cup winner Segametsi Balosang.
She said that small scale entrepreneurs are still faced with several challenges and stakeholders including government could put a few measures in place to cultivate talent and skills, harvest potential and ensure that entrepreneurs reach their full potential. The entrepreneur in the food processing and indigenous food perservation sector, said that there is no point in implementing policies to empower entrepreneurs if there is no support structure in place to support them after that.
She also said that it is also important to implement monitoring quality standards across board. “This will ensure that we are able to compete at an international level which will open up market access, what is the point of funding my project if I cannot even sell it in local retail stores?
“At the end of the day we seek funding to enable us to execute our go to market strategy locally and internationally to commercially sell our products,” she said. Balosang, who runs True Afribites, which produces flavoured phane, recently emerged the winner of the Creative Business Cup 2019, beating 14 other competitors. She is already preparing for her trip to Copenhagen, Denmark in June, where she will get the opportunity to network, seal business deals and partake in the global Creative Business Cup competition - an international platform to encourage entrepreneurs to think out of the box in developing business models and also build brand awareness of local products in the creative field.
It is also a point of entry to engaging with international retail stores and to drive online sales. Balosang expressed hope that the win would give her exposure to relevant skills and training workshops to comprehensively sustain her growth. She said that competition was tight as every business had an innovative and globally competitive idea that was presented well.
She admitted that for her, it was a challenge to sell her idea within a limited time because as much as she is a serial entrepreneur she has always been terrified of addressing large groups of people so this pushed her from her comfort zone and made her master a new skill. “I practised how to pitch and speak in front of people but now have decided to engage a professional because I think there is still room for improvement.” Meanwhile, Creative Business Cup Botswana coordinator Nicoletta Chimonoma conceded that one of the hardest things that entrepreneurs encounter is lack of mentorship and exposure to entrepreneurial networks.
She said that this year they had engaged speakers from the entrepreneurial space with the hope that they would inspire young entrepreneurs by exposing them to more success stories from those who have made it and continue to grow their businesses day-by-day. She said the reason they held a final event where finalists had to pitch was to help them improve their communication skills, which she said is vital for anyone in the business space.
“Not everyone is an extrovert or is chatty, but you need to be consistent in communicating messages about your start-up; you need to stay on top of your communications.”