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Home » News » Politics » BDP MPs, Ministers clash over ESP

BDP MPs, Ministers clash over ESP

Publishing Date : 22 August, 2017

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane was this week hauled before the red-hot coals by his fellow Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Members of Parliament over the faltering P1.6 billion Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) projects.


In addition the Legislators faulted Tsogwane, who is seen as one of Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi’s favorites’ on a number of goofs recorded under his nose by the Ministry. At some point Tsogwane’s name was mentioned along those who aspire to Vice President come April next year when Masisi takes over as President. But now his colleagues are questioning his delivery card. Where are the ESP projects you promised? They fired at a BDP caucus this week.


Unlike last week’s party caucus meeting whose primary objective was to shoot down an opposition Member of Parliament Dithapelo Keorapetse’s disciplined forces bill, this time around focus was primarily on constituency developments, and a number of MPs queried the apparent skewed development agenda. Of course, at the top of the agitated MPs’ wailings was the controversial Economic Stimulus Program (ESP). According to Weekendpost sources MP’s are demanding a report card of the program – some have boldly stated that the overhyped initiative has failed to live up to expectation and it safe to say it is a failed idea.


“It milked government millions if not billions of pula and it’s only appropriate to demand to know to what extent the initiative has stimulated the economy. You will find that some constituencies were promised a number of projects but two years down the line, there is nothing, we expected around 500 houses in Dukwi from the program, nothing!” said Nata-Gweta’s Polson Majaga. The ESP is reported to have pulled P1.6 billion from government coffers. When it was launched in Sefhare Ramokgonami constituency a number of areas were promised their share of the cake but most are yet to receive the goods.


“Though I can’t vividly remember which projects were allocated to which area, to be honest the ESP has fared below average, look at my constituency there is nothing, but initially I was promised a junior school in Ngware,” observed the BDP Chief, Whip Liekat Kablay. It is said Tsogwane was instructed by the party Chairman, Vice President Masisi, who was also leading the ESP idea to deliver the report card at the latest by next week. But his fellow MPs are of the view that he will still give them the ‘everyday rhetoric’. There is a view from within the party that the ESP was intended for cabinet ministers’ held constituencies and some “well-connected party arm chair activists”.

Kablay accused the government for focusing developments only in one direction. He said the northern constituencies are treated with kids’ gloves. “I can’t say the ministers’ areas are given priority but that’s what people are saying, look a hospital is being erected in Sefhare-Ramokgonami and there are other projects in Palapye, and a Police Station is also being built in Mochudi, but our constituencies are idle,” said Kablay. Still at the caucus meeting, BDP MPs would just not give Tsogwane a break, when thought he could take a breather, another issue emerged – the P10 million Constituency Funding.

This was widely criticized when it was first announced because it was viewed as yet another wild BDP political card. Legislators complain of lack of consultation on the initiative and they want the whole idea to be scrapped if not changed. “This is dubbed constituency fund, not council fund,” said Majaga before adding that “This money should be under our control because we are aware of the neither challenges in our constituencies, not the Village Development Committees (VDCs) nor Council. They cannot claim to know the constituency better than us, besides, we are their principals and we know the priorities. Look at the Nata-Gweta we were affected by Dineo floods and I could have prioritized accordingly more so that traffic was inconvenienced,” Majaga said.

Though the MP’s were given an opaque response as to whether they will get to control the P10 million, they told Tsogwane that they will fight for the proper channeling of the fund. “Maybe in the next financial year we would get the fund to be placed directly under MPs control, but for now there are no signs that this fund will placed with us. The next financial year is fast approaching and we hope to see action,” Kablay said. The complaints by the BDP MPs follow a number of protests from the opposition camps over the fund which were thrown out of the window.

In his own world, minister Tsogwane is said to have claimed that to the best of his knowledge the ESP projects were ongoing and everything was smooth. The Botswana government launched the Economic Stimulus Program (ESP) with the aim to boost the national economy. The ESP is a program that is meant to boost economic growth through increased government spending in identified sectors, diversify the economy and accelerate employment creation, said President Ian Khama at the launch ceremony in Machaneng village in eastern Botswana.

The Program was a response to the current unfavourable economic climate following the world economic recession of 2008/2009 which has resulted in job losses. "One of the major challenges in the economy is fall of commodity prices in the mining sector including diamonds," said Khama at the launch. "There is a need to diversify the economy even more so as to create sustainable jobs and to be able to cushion the economy against the international shocks of the mineral process," he said.

The program aimed at boosting the national economy through accelerated job creation and citizen empowerment using the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) and harnessing the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) program for citizens, has been given national attention since its introduction by Botswana President Seretse Khama Ian Khama in last November. The caucus discussed other issues including the welfare of MPs. This coming Monday Parliament will amend the standing orders as per the request at last week’s caucus.

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