Masisi’s foreign trips spoil kwape’s budget proposal

Daniel Chida

It is uncommon for the President to spend a week in other countries – Gobotswang

Opposition parties’ MPs were dealt another blow when their voice was once again drowned by that of the ruling party majority.

The opposition MPs were against Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Lemogang Kwape’s budget proposal which they argued was not a priority.

Kwape’s proposal was that P575,331,510 for the Recurrent Budget be approved as part of the 2022/2023 Appropriation Bill (No.2 of 2022) and P70,700,000 for the Development Budget be approved and stand as part of the same schedule for the 2022/2023.

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The Voice Reporter, DANIEL CHIDA, gives you an insight into how some of the Opposition MPs responded.

Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang – MP for Sefhare/Ramokgonami

We are currently facing economic instability, we have to ensure that as different ministries we monitor if we manage funds prudently and if we can take pride in terms of value for money.

I want to discuss international travels. The most important thing is to closely monitor the president’s travels, especially with his Cabinet.

I have been observing the President’s visits and I think Batswana have also picked this up that it seems like the President visits Botswana and spends more time in other countries.

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It is as if he is competing with the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation.

However, when you try to assess the outcomes of his visits, there is nothing tangible to show for it.

Let us take, for example, the recent President’s visit in Dubai. He stayed for a week, it is uncommon for the President to spend a week in other countries.

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I also observed that he visited Brussels although it is not clear whether his visit was to learn about goat-rearing without meeting the President of that country or what.

One cannot help but wonder if his visit is on his own personal business or state visit.

It was very unclear but nonetheless we use a lot of money. Presidents from other countries cannot travel for such a long time and not come back with a single deal, which they can inform their citizens about.

If you pay close attention, it seems like the President is enriching himself.

Let us reduce the President’s visits. Just look at the Cabinet, which literally stayed in Dubai, these are tourists.

Mmusi Kgafela travelled and upon his return, Hildah Kereng went then Karabo Gare, followed by Tumiso Rakgare.

We were not told about what was happening there.

Taolo Lucas – MP for Bobonong

Let me start with the issue of our soldiers who are currently in Mozambique.

It was reported that we already lost two soldiers, may their souls rest in peace.

Before they left, the Minister of Foreign Affairs informed us that this operation was a matter of life and death, but some are coming back.

It is clear that you mismanaged this issue so you should always give us an update, it was beyond you.

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So you must update us about their whereabouts, even though you did not inform us when they left.

It is quite important for you to give us an update concerning their well being in Mozambique.

Secondly, I would like to move on the issue of biannual meetings between our neighbouring countries and us.

I believe it is fruitless to conduct biannual meetings with Zimbabwe, perhaps they benefit you in Gaborone.

We heard that you met to discuss our issues, more especially the issue that I usually talk about from time to time, that you once had a commission.

This commission made efforts but Babirwa cattle still disappeared at Zimbabwe, which is an indication that it was fruitless.

It is clear that these biannual meetings are not making any efforts; those conducted between the President of Botswana and Zimbabwe are fruitless.

So we need results, otherwise we will assume that you only meet to commend one another as you are Presidents, that you should continue to hold that title.

So we need to see the difference in efforts that you put in place to ensure that Babirwa cattle do not cross over to Zimbabwe.

I would also like to talk about biannual meeting which is usually conducted between South Africa and Botswana.

Serame once mentioned in response to some questions that they are going to conduct a meeting between South Africa and Botswana to discuss Platjan border.

They agreed that this border should operate as a commercial border where we can easily trade with South Africa.

Right now, it seems like this agreement was made.

So Serame, contact your fellow Minister of Foreign Affairs so that this issue can be discussed during these biannual meetings.

If you know nothing about it, Kwape, you should enquire from Serame about it. She is the one who emphasised that they usually conduct these meetings.

The truth is, we believe Platjan border is one such a border where that can assist in terms of trading between Botswana and South Africa.

Moreover, it can assist in terms of trading between Botswana and Zimbabwe.

It may also greatly assist us when it comes to tourism at Mashatu.

It may greatly assist us because the European Union promised to build a road leading from Platjan and join the Mathathane-Bobonong road.

This means, Bobirwa will also join Selebi Phikwe-Francistown and Kazungula.

The only problem can arise if this border is still non-commercial.

Goretetse Kekgonegile – MP for Maun East

When the nation listens to us as we debate the budget proposal for this ministry, they wonder what the mandate of this ministry is, what its importance is in the country.

This is a ministry which connects us with the international community and helps us to address international issues affecting the entire world.

They are wondering which issues we are discussing. As a country, what does our Foreign Policy say at this particular moment, what are our key priority areas or issues?

Some countries’ priority issues are environment, theft, terrorism. Some energy, health, women’s rights and others human rights in general. Some countries prioritise poverty.

The question is, in terms of foreign policy, what are our priority issues for this particular year?

Those are the questions that one can ask themselves but they have not come out clearly in this Budget to ensure that Motswana understands.

Last time we were surviving on a foreign policy of a theme called silent diplomacy.

Today, when you listen and read this Budget, you will realise things have changed, we are talking of economic diplomacy.

The question is, what does this economic diplomacy mean? One might think this is a ‘stomach policy’, where we work with anyone who can economically benefit us.

We have nothing to do with those who cannot sustain us. Do you mean the story of our economy that is in the hands of foreigners?

You have to clarify which story it is. You are talking the chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, that sent soldiers to Cabo Delgado.

It is a war that we have no exit plan on. You were here, Minister, saying that they will not take long, now their period is being extended, their salaries are being increased whilst there.

We were here telling you that war has no end; Delgado has its root cause.

That is why you were supposed to provide recommendations as the Chairperson, trying to explain that the root cause of poverty, unemployment, exclusion of Delgado from the economy is the solution to that conflict not only soldiers. eswatini; you have failed eswatini Minister.

You are not giving us updates on what is happening at eswatini.

You are just going there to tour reed dances, and drink tea at Boards; that on its own has not brought peace in eswatini.

You went there and came back but things are still the same, what are you saying? It means that our Chairmanship did not work for us and Southern Africa.

You are talking about fielding Batswana in international organisations, but you could be talking about fielding members of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and your loyalists because, right now, there is no clear and transparent identification criteria – what to do or who to see when you want to work in the United Nations (UN), so that you can be supported by your country being Botswana.

Phenyo Butale, who was MP for Gaborone Central, wanted to go to Pan-African Parliament and you failed to support him.

You went with him to Lesotho as he was recruited but when he said that he was okay where he was, he was abandoned.

Pius Mokgware and others wanted to go to the African Union, you did not support them.

The administration in your ministry, Minister, is outdated; it does not suit this country.

That is why we believe that as the people of North West District, the country in general, the Reset Agenda should be to remove you from power.

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