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Kenewendo frustrates Masisi’s electric car

Publishing Date : 20 January, 2020

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

A decision by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to drop Bogolo Kenewendo from politics and cabinet late last year especially from Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) has left government with devastating repercussions which could see the electric car dream fading away, WeekendPost has learnt.


This publication is reliably told that after Masisi brainstormed the idea to assemble the electric car, the first person he thought of to deliver the project without blemish was Kenewendo. The reasons were plain and simple according to those in the know, her Ministry was tasked with luring investors locally and already she had connections with relevant parties for the job.


The idea to build an electric car was further strengthened by the commitment made to President Masisi after he asked Kenewendo in one of Ministry’s Economic Review sessions what the Ministry was doing to position Botswana in the digital economy and whether they could build an electric car. “He asked me and my team... can you build a car? And without any hesitation I said ‘yes sir, we mostly certainly can’, and we have been working tirelessly to find the right partners so that we can realize this dream” Kenewendo said last year.


“One of the sectors we have decided to focus on in the development of Botswana, is the auto sector and what we have been saying as we go around the world is that we are not necessarily asking for a body shop but focusing on the auto parts; on the supply side of the motor industry,” added the then youthful Minister, when launching Smart Green Botswana Makeathon. A Makeathon idea was to mix passionate designers, creators and developers from different fields to provide an environment such as innovation labs, where they can transform their ideas into functioning prototypes to eventually create a tangible product for the market.


Following this, former Assistant Minister of Youth Empowerment Sports and Culture Development Philip Makgelemele also wrote. “The good news is that Dr. Rainer Stetter, the highly rated German Engineer and designer of solar an electric vehicles and his team have landed in Gaborone to design an electric car.” The dream looked even brighter, until the day when Masisi overlooked Kenewendo to continue with the responsibility given. She was then replaced by her former Permanent Secretary Peggy Serame.


The German expert who came to Gaborone to start the design were roped in by Kenewendo. “She had everything for the development of that car. She understood that blueprint like no one within the Ministry and the Government, she was also the one who was at the forefront of looking for partners and the contacts were in her notepad. This has now made it difficult for anyone to continue with the project because the handing over process was not done accordingly,” shared an informant who even revealed that the dream has faded away.


Kenewendo has since departed to work in Ghana, where she was before she was recruited into politics by former President Ian Khama. Those in the know tell this publication that after that snub, Kenewendo has travelled with all the information leaving Masisi and the Ministry with nothing to continue pushing for the development of the electric car.


“All the European contacts that she had to pursue the project are nowhere to be found and she is not giving any help when contacted. It seems she was not happy when she was not included in the cabinet and she will use this to retaliate. Government took her from her job to join politics then dumped her like that, she has every reason to be livid,” added the informant.


This has now frustrated government’s intention of transforming this country as an industrial hub. The matter is so serious that the government has also been advised not to continue with the project as it will be another tedious process, more-so the person who was at the fore-front has gone with all data. Kenewendo did not respond to this publication’s enquiries on the matter.

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