For a man who boasts of an illustrious career in the public service, Andrew Motsamai presents simply a resourceful and great leadership opportunity for Botswana National Front and by extension the Umbrella for Democratic change (UDC). His name appears in two of the BNF lobby lists, as a possible contestant for the position of Health Secretary.
Interestingly, he is the only contender for the position, thereby suggesting that both lobby lists have faith in him and endorse him. He appears in the lobby list led by President Advocate Duma Boko and another led by Vice President Dr. Prince Dibeela who is challenging the former for the top seat. Motsamai's close associates are quick to point out that, this latest move was long overdue. In fact to them it was always going to be a matter of fate. His father, the late Frank Motsamai, was a BNF stalwart, whose close collaboration with the regional BNF leadership in the 1980’s consolidated the party's dominance in Kgatleng East.
It is said that BNF committee meetings were held in the family household, from which regional campaigns were often launched. This was an exciting time for opposition politics, which birthed the radical and intellectual generation of activists that came of age under the stewardship of political giants such as Isaac Mabiletsa, Lemogang Ntime and the late Paul Rantao.
Andrew Motsamai was to carry this political orientation throughout his student life and professional career. He was to later engrave his name in the labour movement as a trade unionist. As president of Botswana Civil Service Association (BCSA), Motsamai was instrumental in its transformation to the present-day Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), which he served as president until 2016.
He was also to later become instrumental in the formation of Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), serving as founding President and later as full time Secretary General.
It was during this period at the helm of BOFEPUSU, that Motsamai coordinated a spirited command of union activists comprising of Goretetse Kekgonegile, Ibo Kenosi, Raymond Malanga including his estranged comrade-turned rival Johnson Motshwarakgole of Manual Workers Union in the largest mass-action ever, the 2011 public sector strike dubbed 'The mother of all strikes'.
The period after the 2011 public sector strike, saw concerted efforts by the progressive left forces to unite the opposition parties in Botswana. Owing in part to his influential role within the leadership of BOFEPUSU, Motsamai became a contact point between opposition parties (BMD, BPP, BNF & BCP) with the convenors of opposition talks Emang Maphanyane and Lebang Mpotokwane and BOFEPUSU.
It was not surprising then that following the death of BMD president Gomolemo Motswaledi, Motsamai's name alongside that of Uyapo Ndadi, Rasina Winfred Rasina, Thuso Tiego and Dr. Phenyo Butale, was mentioned as likely favourites to contest for the Gaborone Central Parliamentary seat. However, Motsamai publicly denied harbouring any political interests at the time, most likely owing to his immediate responsibilities as then President of BOPEU.
Motsamai is however not without controversy. He was alleged to be assisting the BNF with financial and political support through BOPEU, which assistance led to BNF winning the Goodhope / Mabule and Tlokweng 2017 bye-elections under the UDC ticket and subsequent council seats in other constituencies.
When contacted to comment whether indeed he will be contesting for the Central Committee position in the BNF, Motsamai confirmed his appearance in the lobby list but declined to discuss any further, what he terms, internal party matters. Reached for comment, Motsamai’s known close ally, Rasina who worked with Motsamai at BOPEU said that:
“Motsamai has always been a BNF stalwart. He has always been clear about it and his thought process is that of the BNF command and his views about governance are equally too BNF oriented.” Although Rasina was cagey with details, he however confirmed to this publication that he has had discussions with Motsamai after he (Motsamai) was talked into campaigning.
On Motsamai's decision to shun the opportunity to show his political prowess when approached in 2014 to replace the late Motswaledi Rasina said: "I discussed that with him and his position was that Sir G was his brother and was protecting his legacy by refusing to contest. He explained that he would like to carry the legacy on unionism platform. He welcomed the arrival of Dr. Butale on grounds that he came sober at the time when there were differing views by contracting partners on who should be considered."
A new mobile payment application – ‘Ukheshe Africa’ developed in South Africa is identifying business-to-business opportunities for the platform across the African continent, as cashless trend gains momentum. Although the platform has been focused on South Africa, Ukheshe has now set eyes on the Southern Africa bloc and beyond.
“There are already opportunities underway for the micro-payment platform in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi, Botswana and Angola,” said Mark Dankworth, the newly appointed Executive Director of Ukheshe Africa. Dankworth said the need for a cashless society is a rising trend and a strategic global imperative.
He further said the platform intends to bridge the gap of the unbanked in the society. “If the unbanked continue to have limited access to proper financial solutions, they remain barred from the majority of the continent’s economic activities. This, in turn, results in a reliance on limited retail opportunities, inability to access credit, and thus often paying more for goods and services,” said Dankworth.
Dankworth says the company will look to establish relationships with key players in the various markets Ukheshe is a micro transaction platform launched in November 2018 and allows card holders to pay and get paid. On the local market several mobile payment systems support by mobile network providers have been launched over the years and have seen several retailers and service providers leverage on them to collect payments.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called for protection of human rights during the six (6) months State of Public Emergency. The organisations said they note with deep concern, early reports of abuses of power soon after the parliamentary resolution of 9 April 2020 and the alleged violations of human rights. They warned that the State of Emergency should not be used by government to achieve political goals not linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CSOs that raised the concerns are Botswana Centre for Public Integrity (BCPI), Botswana Gender Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre (BGBVC), Botswana Labour Migrants Association (BoLAMA), Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDs (BONELA), CHILDLINE Botswana, DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, Friends of Diversity, Inclusive Directions Botswana, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo), Molao Matters, Molayakgosi, Putting Women First Trust, Save Widows and Orphans Botswana, Skillshare International Botswana, Stepping Stones International, Turning Point, WoMen Against Rape (WAR), and Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA - Botswana).
"We were assured by President Masisi on 8 April 2020, that ‘The State of Emergency is intended to deal only with the COVID-19 crisis and will not in any way undermine people’s fundamental rights’.
“We call upon our political representatives to be fully committed to ensuring the protection of our democratic principles, respect for human rights, non-discrimination, equality and respect for the rule of law, in accordance with Section 18 of the Constitution, which enables an enforcement of protective provisions or fundamental freedoms contained in the Constitution," said the CSOs.
The organisations reminded government that any restrictions to its obligations to protect the human rights of all in public emergencies which threaten the life of the nation, must be “proportionate, limited in time, and in no way discriminatory’’ (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 4, United Nations, 16 December 1966).
"We, however, note with deep concern, early reports of abuses of power soon after the parliamentary resolution of 9 April 2020 and the alleged violations of the human rights of: the spokesperson of the Botswana Patriotic Front, Justice Motlhabane, allegedly assaulted and arbitrarily arrested on 10 April 2020 by the police; Nicholas Kgopotso of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), who was allegedly harassed by 12 police officers for allegedly causing noise during the current COVID-19 lockdown; two persons (Neo Dikgole and Thuso Sebinyane) who were allegedly assaulted by the police (Office of the President, 11 April 2020); and three suspects arrested for "publishing, through electronic communications, offensive statements against government" (Botswana Police Service, 11 April 2020."
It is not clear in which law the offence of ‘offensive statement against government' is contained, said the CSOs adding that, the right to freedom of expression is protected under section 12(1) of the Constitution. It can only be limited under exceptional circumstances provided by law. They called upon the government to ensure that it does not emulate countries such as China, Brazil, Egypt and Turkey, which all targeted journalists, physicians, health workers and human rights defenders for exposing serious concerns about the coronavirus and concerns for vulnerable communities.
"We therefore urge political leaders to work together, in order to earn the trust of all our people; strongly encourage our government to adhere to the essential principles of public trust, transparency, respect and empathy for the most vulnerable. “These are key to us working together as a nation to effectively implement a national strategy to combat COVID-19 and to protect our people; and call upon our government to respect and protect human rights, under all circumstances."