Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) will not give their colleagues at Umbrella for Democratic Change a walk in the park in their legal battle. BMD has taken UDC to court after it was expelled from the coalition by the UDC last year. The case which was to start this week Monday failed as UDC senior Counsel could not attend the case due to other commitments.
The case which has been marred by controversy over presiding judicial officers is scheduled to be heard at Gaborone High Court in August 27th and 28th this year for argument. UDC expelled BMD from its fold last year only to remain with three contracting partners- Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP). This resulted in BMD launching the application for review and setting aside of their expulsion from the UDC. While the BMD is set to fight tooth and nail to be declared a member of the UDC in good standing, the UDC has maintained it would not contest this year’s general elections with BMD as its member.
BMD President Advocate Sidney Pilane has accused the UDC of applying delaying tactics so that this year’s general elections would be held with the case having not been concluded. “We are ready and have always been ready. The UDC wants to delay the case. We fully know their intentions but we would not allow them to dictate terms to us. “We would do all in our power with all available avenues to ensure that we are not abused,” Advocate Pilane told members of the media after the adjournment of the case.
According to Advocate Pilane if the matter is not concluded before the general election, the BMD would move to court on urgency to request that no party should be allowed to use the UDC symbol. He said the remaining contracting members of the UDC will have to come up with another symbol or would have to use their individual symbols.
However UDC President Advocate Boko on the other hand explained that their campaigns would go on as planned and the case will not hamper them. He told the media and UDC supporters that what BMD is seeking would not derail them. According to Advocate Boko they have dealt with BMD politically and are now ready to deal with the party legally. He said the UDC legal team is more than ready to take the BMD head on. “We have three judges in the case and we had to reconcile our dates especially with our advocate, which is why we have settled for August because we all had to look at our diaries. “We would be back here to deal with the matter legally and put it to rest.
We have dealt with it politically. We would not be derailed; we are marching on. Do not be misled by people, the campaign is on and nothing will stop us,” said the UDC leader. He stated that his deputy Dumelang Saleshando is busy with the party manifesto and it would soon be ready to be presented in Maun to party members. Advocate Boko said as the UDC they are not in any hurry because they are not the ones who brought the case to court but are only responding to what has been brought to court by the BMD.
He feels that there is nothing wrong that they have done in expelling the BMD because they have followed all the necessary procedures as is required. The UDC leader stated that last year he threatened to resign if BMD was expelled without following laid down procedures.
Botswana National Front Youth League is said to have collapsed following resignations that marred the organisation since 2017.First to resign from the youth wing was the then President Khumoekae Richard. Richard has since joined the opposition Alliance for Progressives (AP). The resignations were said to have been caused by the hostile relationship between the BNYL and the party’s central committee.
Sources within the BNF have indicated that the once vibrant structure of the BNF has collapsed. “It is clear that they are not there because even when issues of national importance are discussed, we never hear their voice. This used to be one structure that was vocal.
“Other structures within the party and other youth movements in political parties and civil society used to follow in the footsteps of the BNFYL when it comes to issues that affect the country. They never meet, nor hold press conferences, let alone issue press releases. They do not contribute during the public discourse and have become irrelevant,” said an insider.
Sources have revealed that majority of the people elected in Mahalapye in 2016 have resigned and others have joined other political parties. BNF insiders argue that the youth league is even failing internally to defend the party or its leadership. Internal fights among the young people of the ‘Puophaa’ movement started during the 2016 Mahalapye congress which pitted Richard against Kago Mokotedi.
It was at this congress that the party leadership was accused of dividing the youth by aligning themselves with one of the camps. After assuming office the Richard-led executive got into a tussle with their predecessors led by Kemmonye Makatane regarding the office handover.
The previous committee was also accused of maladministration and misappropriation of funds. This was after about P65 000.00 went missing from the BNYL coffers. The funds have allegedly not been located up todate.
Despite this shortcoming the Makatane led youth league was praised for taking its leadership head-on when the BNF central committee prohibited Duma Boko to stand for president in 2010. Boko was then allowed to contest for the first time and has since then been at the helm of the BNF.
The current BNFYL is also said to be broke. There are allegations that the previous youth league has up-to-date failed to hand over to the current committee.Youth League President Velem Heii rubbished claims that his committee is inactive. Heii told this publication in an interview that his committee is alive. He accused his detractors of expecting his committee to always take head-on the leadership to show they are active. According to Heii he wants to build independent thinkers among the BNF youth. He confirmed that the failure of handing over of the previous committee has affected the performance of his committee.
“The issue of the P65 000 has of course affected us. But we did not just sit and fold our arms we sought assistance from fellow comrades so that we could have the office functional. The issue of handing over was sending us back and forth. So, we decided to leave the issue for the sake of our movement pending the finalisation by the BNFYL congress,” said the youth league president.
He said the youth this year will be hosting unemployment youth conference where all stakeholders would take part. The conference will go a long way in assisting the Umbrella for Democratic Change to well craft its 2019 manifesto on issues of unemployment. Previous committee Secretary General Arafat Khan declined to be drawn into discussing the matter. “I have played my part and have handed over to others to continue serving the BNF and the nation. If we also failed during our times as you say is alleged, let history judge us,” said Khan.
Botswana National Front Youth League President (BNFYL), Khumoekae Richard is said to be contemplating quitting his post for further studies outside the country before end of this year.
The government recently fired Richard from work as Administration Officer at Gaborone Central constituency office. Ever since he was voted BNFY leader this year, Richard and his employer have been fighting over his active involvement in politics. Just two months ago Richard lost his bid to have the Gaborone High Court interdict his disciplinary hearing. Dismissing Khumoekae’s application, Justice Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe said Khumoekae’s complaint was that if he was to be put through the disciplinary hearing and was dismissed he would lose out on his employment benefits, as he would be entitled only to notice.
“This averment in my view does not touch on the loss of the enjoyment of the freedoms and rights he is seeking to protect, but rather on the financial loss he is likely to suffer should he opt to continue with his being active in politics at the expense of his job,” he said.
BG News is reliably informed that this week Richard told Central Executive Committee members of the mother body, BNF that he wants to quit his post and go for further studies. “He told us that he was given scholarship opportunity to study in Canada in December. Even though it is a major setback for the party we are happy for comrade because this is a lifetime opportunity one cannot miss,” said a member of BNF NEC on condition of anonymity.
He said Richard told them he received the scholarship before he was dismissed from work. “Activists like him are very important in our movement moreso that we are looking to wrestle power from Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in 2019 as combined opposition parties. But he is still a youth and he will contribute meaningfully to the party when he comes back,” noted the source. But BNF Publicity Secretary, Justin Hunyepa played his cards close his chest saying, “As far as we know Richard is still the youth league leader. If there are any developments it will be announced in the public. What is discussed in our central executive committee meetings cannot be shared to the media and the public.” Asked whether a vacancy at that level would immediately necessitate an election to find replacement, Hunyepa responded that they would cross “that bridge” if they got there.
However, a party insider explained to this publication that in the event Richard quits, the Youth League could easily co-opt from within to replace the president. Reached for comment, Richard denied the development saying, “I am still the BNFYL President at the moment. If there is anything concerning my life I will update my fellow comrades. This is news to me.” In 2014 Richard was fired from Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education where he was working as a lecturer. This happened after he published a book titled; ‘Scandalous Murdering of Democracy’, which is highly critical of President Ian Khama.
Botswana National Front Youth League (BNFYL) President, Khumoekae Richard has demanded that Parliament retract a letter threatening action against him over involvement in politics or he will proceed with a legal suit. Through his lawyer Mboki Chilisa of Collins Chilisa Consultant Richard warned that failure to retract the letter a legal action would be instituted against Parliament in the event that any action detrimental to Richard in pursuance of the said letter is taken.
“In amplification, our client has a long standing political reputation known to yourselves prior to his appointment and assumption of duty. It is his political involvement and experience thereof that motivated his appointment to serve under the Member of Parliament Dr Phenyo Butale whose job is in its very nature political. Additionally, the direct correlation or link between our client’s tenure and that of the aforementioned Member of Parliament as specified in our client’s contract of employment is indicatory of the fact that he is exempt from the impugned provision of the Public Service Act and that it is in his best interest that he promote the interests of this Member, which in many instances involves political participation”, stated Chilisa in the letter.
The attorney further contended that the said restriction is in essence unconstitutional as it serves no legitimate purpose and is not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society. “It serves to impede our client from effectively discharging his duties, which as already established are political in nature,” said Chilisa, adding, “it would therefore defeat the very import of his job to place upon him and any other officer serving in similar capacity the restriction under Section 5 (5) of the Public Service Act.”Parliament through office of Clerk of National Assembly wrote the said letter of the 3rd June 2016 after the Botswana Democratic Party Youth Wing expressed worry that Richard continues to serve as a public servant while he holds a political office.
Clerk of National Assembly in the letter gave notice that due to Richard’s and or other active involvement in partisan politics contrary to Section 5 (5) of the Public Service Act,appropriate action would be taken against them. The complaint came a few days after Richard was voted the BNFYL President in Mahalapye. Richard is a Senior Administration Officer/ Researcher at the Gaborone Central Constituency Office.
BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane said they await to see if action would be taken against Richard if he does not resign. “The law is the law and must be complied with. It cannot make an exception because an individual is leader of the BNFYL and therefore wants to have his cake and eat it. We trust Parliament to act accordingly”. Parliament Acting Corporate Services Manager Nametso Sephephe had not responded to our enquiries at press time.