When days are dark, friends are few. And for former President, Ian Khama, the days are dark, perhaps very dark. Khama’s recent Saul-to-Paul transition on the media has left even Paul himself utterly shocked. It is a U-turn like no other. In the ‘good old days,’ Khama had the luxury of choice when it came to media coverage. So spoilt for choice, he had even made it a habit to throw punches at private media at every opportune moment.

For Khama, the private media was an embodiment of evil. It was a cancer that needed the strongest possible chemo to be destroyed. Besides the carelessly selected adjectives and expletives he used to describe the local media, he had the pleasure to marvel at their arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, harassments and sometimes, explicit threats to kill. As if that was not enough, he emptied their pockets by banning all government and government-funded entities to advertise from them. We all watched helplessly as the looting and the shooting continued unabated.

Then, the private media mattered not; after all, he had the entire Mass-Media Complex at his disposal. The state media was all about him, may it be radio, print or television. The only time they stopped covering him, was when he was sleeping. But the moment he woke up, the propaganda reel would run ceaselessly until he again retired to bed. He also had a profound taste for western media, of which as and when it served their strategic interests, they would apportion him a space for his vitriol against Robert Mugabe.

But that was then, now it is gone. The state media is gone, and so is his beloved British media. But the reel is still running, though for someone else. Like an oasis, now Khama stands alone in a sea of the Kgalagadi sand. Power has deserted him and so are the privileges and accruements that accompany it. The political monsoons of the Kgalagadi are battering him to withering proportions. But, just when he was about to resign his last breath to the political wolves of the desert, the local media threw him a lifeline. The very media he publicly castigated as ‘unpatriotic’ have come to save him from political oblivion.

Instead of being harsh and vengeful, the local media has given Khama refuge. And by the look of things, it looks like his last place of refuge. Unlike him, they have given him a platform to rant and vent his usual trivialities out. He may not have audience, but at least he has a voice. We may disagree with his altered and warped outlook of life, but at least he has a platform to throw his childish tantrums. And that should serve as a lesson to him. That is, in a normal functioning democracy, people must have an opportunity to air their views, regardless of the shape and form they come in.

And freedom of speech and expression is not, as some people may claim, a western concept, for Batswana, it is a normative ethic (Setho). Khama should know that the media is also an important accountability mechanism. The relationship between media and politician would continue to be a love/hate relationship. But both need each other, the one to provide the information, the other to communicate it. Politicians like to present their successes and their opinions, to use the media to gain public recognition and enlarge their authority; the media’s role is to question these critically. The way I see it, Khama owes the media an apology. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in News
Wednesday, 12 September 2018 14:45

Who’s fooling who?

An uproar over the alleged poaching which resulted in the slaughter of close to 90 elephants has been linked to a political standoff between former President Ian Khama and his successor Mokgweetsi Masisi.The main idea, it’s being said, is to discredit Masisi’s administration. The once close buddies- Khama and President Mokgweetsi Masisi - are said to have had a fall out after Masisi assumed the high office in April this year and started reversing some of Khama’s policies and decisions.

Masisi has also denied Khama access to do as he pleases. Recently attempts by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Council of Elders to reconcile the duo hit a snag. Reports by conservationists that almost 90 elephants were found dead near a wildlife sanctuary in Northern Botswana, have been dismissed by government as false, but have also raised eyebrows regarding the leaking of the information to international media.

Workers from Elephants Without Borders (EWB) have carried out an aerial survey, which found that 87 elephants have been killed for their tusks in the area, with most of the deaths happening just weeks ago. Dr. Mike Chase of EWB told the BBC: “I’m shocked, I’m completely astounded. The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I’ve seen or read about anywhere in Africa to date. 

“When I compare this to figures and data from the Great Elephant Census, which I conducted in 2015, we are recording double the number of fresh poached elephants than anywhere else in Africa”.  When the news broke out on Tuesday this week Masisi’s administration bore the worst attack from international groups and organisations who stated that Khama was doing a better job than Masisi with others referring to him as “your new man”.

Dr. Chase said there have been warnings of an impending poaching problem and the country was prepared for it. “The poachers are now turning their guns to Botswana. We have the world’s largest elephant population and it is open season for poachers. Clearly we need to be doing more to stop the scale of what we are recording on our survey.” 

The debate around the issue heated up when Thea Khama, wife to Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama, who is also former President Ian Khama’s younger brother, added her voice to the debate on social media.
“This is a tragedy of epic proportions. While we promote trade and cultural tourism with China and the world at large, all is lost without the flora and fauna of our eco-systems.

We have built a strong industry and reputation in photographic safaris that generate capital for the Botswana economy. “This can still be further exploited for the benefit of Batswana in the wake of the diamond industry scaling down and moving to sell out to synthetics. The last great haven for keystone species is now under our watch and in our lifetime under serious attack.

How to help?  “Put pressure to the Botswana government to re-arm its Wildlife Department, cultivate cultural tourism projects that help communities live safely with the predators, and large keystone species in their areas and educate and make money for the communities so they can learn to protect and value the world’s wildlife populations, create awareness campaigns, educate yourself what happens when we lose our keystone species, lions, elephants, rhinos, whales, wolves, etc from the food chain”.

This was perceived by many as a direct attack on President Masisi by a Khama relative after Masisi ordered the withdrawal of weapons from the department of wildlife sometimes in May this year. Thea’s comment attracted a lot of attention from people most of whom condemned the government for disarming the wildlife department.  The debate was later joined by UK Prime Minister Theresa May who said she was saddened to see elephants targeted by poachers. “The UK will continue to work with Botswana who have a long and successful conservation programme.

We are leading the fight on wildlife crime and I look forward to hosting the End Wildlife Crime Summit in London next month,” said the Prime Minister. Government has however refuted the claims indicating that the statistics were “false and misleading”. A statement from Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Permanent Secretary Thato Raphaka indicated that that EWB had counted 53 carcasses in their survey and that most of the animals had died of “natural causes”.

He stressed that the increase in poaching was not due to the decision to withdraw weapons from Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) and such a withdrawal has not created any vacuum in anti-poaching operations.
“The fact of the matter is that the withdrawal of such weapons from DWNP did not in any way affect the effectiveness and operations of the anti-poaching unit.

The government of Botswana wishes to condemn in the strongest terms possible attempts by individuals or groups who give a false impression that they love Botswana wildlife more than citizens of Botswana,” he said.Thea indicated on her social media page that no one is trying to discredit any person. “But I see a lot of attack on my husband and myself for no reason.

Nobody said anything about President Masisi. Yes, China is associated to poaching. Yes, the APU in Bots is disarmed by the OP, the news ran previously locally but most people pay more attention when it hits international papers……the reason you never saw it was because the international media did not pick it up back then. “How many times have the media outfits tried to discredit heads of states around the world and in Botswana? What is freedom of speech when only one point of view thinks it is allowed to speak,” she posted.

President Masisi has travelled to China on an official trip where China announced that it would assist African countries, Botswana included, with funds for infrastructure development. Efforts to speak to Dr Chase were futile as his mobile phone rang unanswered and did not respond to WhatsApp messages sent to him.  But in an interview with National Geographic Dr Chase stood by his numbers: “I am an objective scientist, with no political agenda.

I am sad that our government has responded in this way”. Dr Chase stated that there is a GPS location for each of the 87 carcasses and that there are multiple witnesses who saw each one. He explained that every flight has four people, including one government employee, and novice recordings from the flights will bear out these findings.

Minister Khama also could not be reached for comment even at 2100hrs on Wednesday when he had promised to be available. The minister also did not respond to WhatsApp messages that were sent to him regarding this matter. Vice President whom at press time was Acting President Slumber Tsogwane, said he is not aware that the BBC story has sparked a heated debate on social media.

Tsogwane who is also BDP Chairman, told this publication that he is only aware of the rebuttal of the BBC story by the Tourism Ministry which also aired on government media.“I would not be in a position to say anything because I haven’t been to social media. I do not know what is being said there.

I have also not been briefed by officials of the matter trending on social media and our government under the leadership of President Masisi being discredited. I would have to first find out from our officials who handle our media and social media platforms so that I could make a determination,” said Tsogwane on Wednesday.

Published in News

Billionaire and Founder of the Virgin Group Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, is in Botswana this week. 

The business magnate, investor and philanthropist paid a courtesy call on both President Ian Khama and Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Thursday before he made time to speak to local entrepreneurs at the ongoing Global Expo.  The talk titled, ‘In conversation with Sir Richard Branson,’ is the brainchild of the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) which invited the business mogul to this year’s Global Expo.

BITC Director Corporate Communications, Kutlo Moagi confirmed that Sir Branson would meet the President and Vice President for a courtesy call. She could not say much about the agenda, insisting it was just a simple courtesy call. “His visit to the Office of the President will just be a courtesy call,” she said, adding that often, BITC invites prominent business personalities to not only grace the Global Expo but also to inspire the local business community and share personal business experiences. 

All exhibitors at the 2017 Global Expo will have an opportunity to grace the Knight of the British Empire in an event that has strict access after Branson’s meeting at the Office of the President.

Government Spokesperson, Dr Jeff Ramsay could also not be drawn into the details of the meeting Sir Branson will have with the President and the Vice President.  “I would not want to speculate on what they will discuss,” said Dr Ramsay dismissing ideas that Sir Branson might have investment interests in Botswana. “He will speak for himself once here,” Ramsay said. It is speculated that Botswana will persuade the tycoon, who founded the Virgin Group that controls more than 400 companies, to invest either in environmental conservation, which he has a soft spot for, or in  our ailing national airline. Unconfirmed reports say he will fly out of the capital shortly after his session with local entrepreneurs at the Global Expo for several other business meetings within the country. According to Forbes, Sir Branson’s net worth is $5.1 billion. He owes his fortune to a conglomerate of businesses bearing the "Virgin" brand name, including Virgin Galactic and Virgin Atlantic. The son of a barrister and flight attendant, Richard got his start with a mail-order record business almost 50 years ago. The 67-year-old primarily lives on a luxe British Virgin Islands retreat, Necker Island, which he bought for $180,000 in 1978.


How Sir Richard Branson made his $5 billion fortune

Seemingly born to be an entrepreneur, Richard Branson started his first two businesses in 1968 when he was just 17 years old. Two years later, in 1970, he opened his first business under the Virgin Group umbrella, and the rest is history.Though perhaps best known for its airlines, the Virgin Group consists of more than 60 businesses today. Combined, they bring in more than $24 billion in annual revenue and employ 71 000 people in 35 countries, according to The Telegraph of UK. 

He sold Virgin Records for $1 billion in 1992, but instead of celebrating, he famously ran down London’s Ladbroke Grove in tears, distraught over cutting ties with the business. These days, the father of two dedicates most of his time to Virgin Unite, the Virgin Group’s non-profit entrepreneurial foundation. Established in 2004, the charity supports ventures close to Branson’s heart, including speaking out against poaching. Virgin Unite’s projects are changing the world for the better. Some of the foundation’s work includes providing life-saving healthcare to people in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria; creating Branson Centres, which have helped 4 000 entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground; and fighting for LGBT rights in Uganda.

Published in Business

President Ian Khama who is also leader of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has described the opposition as dissidents who celebrate when the country is hit by any calamity because they are not patriotic. 

Alternatively, according to him, the opposition is “... a protest movement which has got no coherent policies that would lead this country astray should if by accident they would ever be in government.” Khama was giving a keynote address to the 37th National Congress of the BDP last week Friday in Tonota.

The sarcastic Khama noted that it is the BDP members themselves who can create the accident of a change of government. “Such an accident can only be created by ourselves because without it our position in government remains solid,” he said. Describing the opposition as incompetent, unpatriotic and power hungry, Khama warned the BDP diehards who had descended on Tonota in their thousands against complacency. 

He bellowed, “The inherent instability that characterises all opposition parties in this country points to their track record of a lack of harmony, knowledge and ability within their ranks. Because they remain vulnerable to internal dissension and as preachers of the book of lies, we can only imagine the kind of chaos this nation would experience should they find themselves in government.” 

The President added that under the BDP government, Batswana have invested too much in building the kind of country they have today as he warned his listeners that if opposition takes over government, it will damage everything due to its blind preoccupation with positions, personal interest and deceit. 

“Our people must be wary of opposition parties because they not only lack a blueprint for government but cooperate simply because no single opposition party can match us on their own. Our rivals must be reminded that power must not be an end unto itself but rather an opportunity for public service for the betterment of the welfare of the nation and its citizenry,” added the President. 

He warned that besides issuing baseless threats to prosecute everyone ever associated with the BDP government, the opposition has failed to provide a single idea of how they can resolve the challenges which the BDP are able to address. Instead, according to Khama, all the opposition is doing is to simply magnify and gloat about the same challenges as a cheap way of generating political capital. 

Khama stated that, attempts by the opposition which he says is working with some of its allies in the media to discredit the BDP through false and baseless allegations which are revived time and again remind him of a child crying over losing in a game over and over again frustrated that it knows it can never win against a bigger and better opponent. 

Said Khama who was in his usual element, “Shame, poor things, we are all witnessing their frustration at their own incompetence and their failing for their inability to persuade the nation that they are better than the BDP. They would have better luck at colonising the moon where they belong than ever being in government in this country,” said Khama. According to him, the opposition are unpatriotic citizens who go out of their way to disparage their own country and even produce alternative facts to completely deny the successes and achievements of the BDP led government. “These are our society’s dissidents who celebrate when we are hit by power outrages and water shortages and proclaim to the entire world how this government is unable to get a handle on things. 

“When the lights are back on and water flows from the taps the same individuals instead of applauding our efforts because they too are beneficiaries go mute in sullen silence. Just why someone would harbour feelings of bitterness about their own country doing well is something incomprehensible,” wondered Khama. 

He described the opposition members as citizens who have enjoyed top quality education locally and overseas on government support. Khama accused the opposition of being citizens who, on account of the enabling policies of the ruling party, have attained middle class and higher social and economic status never enjoyed by their parents just a generation ago. 

“We are witnessing the phenomenon of citizens who will never think of living anywhere else in the world besides Botswana because what it provides for them but who in the same breath never say a single positive utterance in appreciation,” he added. According to the President, the opposition bang the loudest drums about their need to change government but fail to show what the new government that exists only in their imagination holds in store for the country. 

“They are the ones who do not want this government to protect this nation and the people of Botswana by providing our soldiers with quality equipment to better defend them. They simply do not care to protect our citizens,” he noted. He called upon the BDP to, in the period leading up to 2019, seize the initiative and tell the stories that reflect the reality of the country. 

“The duty of every democrat therefore is to educate the voter about the disaster of any temptation to cast a protest vote against the only party that knows how to govern and where to take this country, the BDP. I remain optimistic we are on course to do better and continue rallying a common cause that advances our country and its people and not any individual interest,” said Khama in an unusually long speech. 

Waxing lyrical about his government’s achievements, the President said that, after 50 years of independence defined by spectacular progress, his government has every reason to be proud of its record. “Ours is not an indulgence in self-praise but a testimony to the multiple achievements that have been corroborated by various international bodies,” added the BDP leader who attributed the country’s success to the fact that the BDP is in government. He continued, “Despite our majority at every election we have never fallen for the temptation to use our majority to alienate differing views from the incompetent opposition.” Khama boasted that Botswana is one of the most peaceful countries because the BDP led governments since independence have not arrested and locked up the opposition. 

Neither has the BDP governments closed down papers and radio stations that do not agree with it. “We do not ban unions who demand more from us, we do not persecute judges who rule against us. The opposition would never tolerate what we do. So it is because of our tolerance that we have peace. This is what makes us the parents and elder and them the juvenile delinquents,” stated the President.

Published in Northren Extra

SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London) Research Associate and International Relations academic Chedza Mogae has criticised Botswana for allowing the Dalai Lama to visit the country. 

Chedza - the daughter of Botswana’s second president Festus Mogae - was among journalists and think tanks invited by the Chinese government on a trip to China last week. 

She said of the impending visit of the Dalai Lama to Botswana: “Unfortunately Botswana does not have a codified foreign policy and its foreign affairs ministry operates using generalists as opposed to specialists, which is what led to confusion with regard to the One China Policy, which is in effect, the One China Principle formalised.” 

She said the policy is not just about Taiwan, it is about any move in support of the separation of any part of China; “a policy we agreed to support and respect at the onset of diplomatic relations (between China and Botswana”. She noted that, further, China’s Africa policy outlines how in turn, the Chinese government does not and will not involve itself in such issues on the African continent. 

“The people and government of China accept that the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader, what they don’t accept is that he’s the political leader of an independent Tibet. And from my interactions with Tibetans young and old, they feel the same way. They pay very little or no heed to the so-called Tibetan Government in Exile of which the Dalai Lama is the leader.”

Mogae said President Ian Khama is not an international scholar and he feels “he can say what he wants.” She praised former presidents, Sir Seretse Khama and Sir Ketumile Masire, saying Khama was very intelligent with foreign policy issues while Masire was an educator.

“These people were nation builders. The educational level within our technocrats is wanting,” she said. 

Published in News
Wednesday, 05 July 2017 11:45

BDP swamped by complaints

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is racing against time to adjudicate on complaints flooding the party secretariat regarding the elective congress next week.

Botswana Guardian understands that the party President Ian Khama is leading the party secretariat in handling the complaints on delegates’ selection, which came as a result of some irregularities during the party’s branch congresses. 

In preparation for the Tonota congress the party conducted ward, branch and regional congresses where delegates to the National Congress were elected. Some of the congresses have ended up with fistfights and others reported to the police. At the National Congress, party Chairman who is also Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi will be defending his seat against Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development Nonofo Molefhi who is also BDP Central Committee additional member. 

There are fears that the congress might be held with some of the complaints having not been attended to. Some insiders have also expressed concern over the integrity of the committee handling the complaints given that Khama, who leads the exercise has publicly declared his support for Masisi. BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane confirmed in an interview that Khama is leading the process of handling the complaints. 

Ntuane expressed hope that the complaints would be handled well and all affected parties would be satisfied. “We trust that they will be dealt with to the satisfaction of all complainants by congress time. We do not doubt the integrity of those handling the petitions,” said Ntuane adding that the secretariat staff is doing all they could to ensure that everything is done within reasonable time. Ntuane would not commit himself if the affected branches would get an extension for deadline regarding the submission of delegates. All the 57 branches were expected to have forwarded names of delegates by Wednesday this week (June 28th 2017) to prepare for the congress. “I guess they will cross the bridge when they get to the river,” Ntuane said. He revealed that as the Central Committee they could not be involved because they are interested parties for positions.

“Admittedly this is a departure with previous practice because we felt those of us in the central committee involved in campaigns for Tonota should not be involved in the adjudication process,” Ntuane stated. There are however indications that some of the complaints could be dealt along factional lines as even at Tsholetsa House, the employees have their preferred candidates.

Masisi’s camp, which according to insiders seems to be leading the race (based on the branch congresses) is composed of all the current BDP central committee executive members except for the secretary general. The current party Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane does not belong to any lobby group. Masisi has added former secretary general Mpho Balopi to challenge Ntuane for the seat.  Masisi and Molefhi both have a fair share of support from cabinet members, Members of Parliament and councillors across the country. Those eligible for voting at the congress are all 18 central committee members, all ministers, all BDP MPs, all 437 BDP councillors, six (6) executive members of Women’s Wing, eight (8) members of Youth Wing Executive Committee, Chairpersons and Secretaries of all 14 regions, and Chairpersons and Secretaries of all 57 constituencies.

Published in News

President Ian Khama has finally issued a directive instructing that the struggling and cash-strapped national airliner, Air Botswana be turned into a company with private shareholding. This came to light this week from documents shared at the ongoing Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and passed to BG News. The Presidential Directive CAB 12(A)/2017 of 3 May 2017 further instructs the privatised Air Botswana to “partner with Wilderness Holdings who will have a majority shareholding” subject to negotiations and applicable statutory requirements. 

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Kabelo Ebineng told the ongoing PAC this week that the sale of Air Botswana is expected to be completed in eight months’ time because they are still negotiating with a company that will take over the struggling airline. 

Air Botswana is believed to have successfully completed its first phase of restructuring in December 2016 culminating in over 200 jobs shed in a retrenchment exercise that was concluded in March 2017. 

This was then followed by an expression of interest (EOI) to turn Air Botswana into a company, which was floated and closed in 28th February 2017. A total of 17 companies are believed to have responded to the advertisement to acquire the struggling airline and were evaluated in March 2017. According to a report seen by this publication, “Botswana Government is considering various workable ways of weaning itself of the airline’s financial adversity, while maintaining the entity as a national flag carrier.” 

This explains the Presidential Directive instructing that Air Botswana be turned into a company with private shareholding, and to partner with Wilderness Holdings, which owns Wilderness Safaris and has interests in Okavango Delta. According to Wilderness Holdings’ financial results, President Ian Khama has beneficial interests in Linyati Investments, which is a subsidiary of Wilderness Safaris.

During the last Parliament sitting, Minister of Transport and Communications, Kitso Mokaila was adamant that with the current financial challenges facing Government, the Executive has decided that Government “will not reinvest in Air Botswana” but rather look for strategic partners. He said at the time, “We are currently going through the process of looking for a strategic partner to assist Air Botswana in the direction we want it to go.”

In 2003 the government attempted to privatise the airline, with Air Mauritius and Comair as strategic partners. Air Mauritius later withdrew from the process in September 2003, citing the downturn in global air travel markets since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. 

Comair also withdrew in December 2003, due in part to increased competition by low-cost airlines in the South African market. The government then suspended the search for a strategic partner in February 2004.

In September 2006 it was announced that three potential investors had placed bids for the tender to take over the airline: Airlink of South Africa, African World Airways Ltd, and Lobtrans (Ltd), a local truck fuel transporter. 

Shortlisted companies which did not submit bids included Ethiopian Airlines, Comair, Tourism Empowerment Group, ExecuJet, and Interair South Africa.  In November 2006, PEEPA announced that the Ministry of Works and Transport (now Ministry of Transport and Communications) has put forward Airlink as the preferred bidder for Air Botswana.

The government ceased negotiations with Airlink in October 2007, when Cabinet decided that the deal was no longer viable. Cabinet also believed the proposal didn’t meet requirements for air transport for the country, and didn’t address government objectives for the further development of transport and tourism sectors in Botswana.

The government then began the search for a management company to operate the company for a three-year period, and also announced that government would recapitalise the airline by injecting P100 million to improve performance and to make it more attractive for privatisation. 

The government entered into negotiations with Comair, but following disagreements over terms, negotiations continued with reserve bidder, International Development Ireland, in conjunction with Aer Arann.

In a previous interview with Botswana Guardian in 2016, asked to give reasons why privatisation has come to a standstill in 2007/08, PEEPA chief executive Kgotla Ramaphane indicated that the environment in the aviation sector globally was not conducive at the time of deferring the decision to privatise the airline.

He indicated that it would be ideal to study the environment again, find models suitable for it and bring back the airline for privatisation.

Published in News

Masimolole allegedly complains to OP that Mabaila is campaigning inconspicuously in Mogoditshane
‘If indeed I am campaigning why is Masimolole bothered? Why can’t he campaign himself?’- Mabaila

President Ian Khama is said to have snubbed a meeting by former Assistant Education Minister Patrick Masimolole where he wanted to lodge a complaint over campaigns in Mogoditshane. A highly-placed source close to the development told this publication that Masimolole who is vying for a parliamentary seat under Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in Mogoditshane, is accusing other interested candidates especially Tshepang Mabaila of Mabaila Foundation, of campaigning indirectly in the constituency.

Mabaila’s crime is his continued noble cause of donating for various sectors of the society in Mogoditshane. Masimolole is the second person to express concern about Mabaila. The first was BDP Labour Sub- Committee Deputy Chairman Kgang Kgang. Mabaila, according to BDP insiders, is one of the party leaders who are Ian Khama’s untouchable men. BDP insiders in the area say Mabaila’s conduct constitutes campaigning and that he is positioning himself to face others during this year’s BDP Bulela-Ditswe.

Mabaila is a Principal Health and Safety Officer at the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services. He is due to retire from the public service next month.
“These donations are political but are being made in the name of charity. Everyone knows that Mabaila has an interest in the constituency as he wants to contest during the primaries for opposition-held constituencies this year,” said a source in Mogoditshane close to Masimolole.

Other BDP members who have been linked to the Constituency are Kgang and BDP Youth Wing Treasurer Bruce Nkgakile. The constituency is currently under Sedirwa Kgoroba of Umbrella for Democratic Change who wrestled it from the BDP during the 2014 general election. Masimolole who came third in the polls after Botswana Congress Party’s Tumiso Rakgare, filed a court application challenging the results. He later withdrew the case.

Masimolole’s contention with Mabaila’s donations is that this would disadvantage some of the contenders while sources feel that it contradicts a resolution taken last month at the BDP National Council in Gaborone which bars candidates from campaigning before the set date, which must be communicated by the party central committee. Mabaila, a former military officer, is said to be a close ally of the President. He started his foundation in 2012 after resigning from Botswana Defence Force (BDF).

Masimolole and team are said to have gone to the Office of the President on Tuesday hoping to meet the party leader to lodge the complaint. They were however, according to information gathered by this publication, turned down by Senior Private Secretary to the President George Tlhalerwa. Tlhalerwa allegedly told them that OP is not a party office and they could not be allowed to see the president on political party matters. Mabaila foundation recently donated spectacles to the elderly in Mogoditshane at Mogoditshane main Kgotla. The elderly persons were identified in the constituency and sent to a specialist doctor who made recommendations for spectacles so that they could regain their vision.

Mabaila Foundation also donated 10 full school uniforms to orphaned children and 10 fruit trees to each and every Kgotla in Mogoditshane Mabaila revealed at that time that as someone passionate about education he has launched academic awards of excellence for schools in the area from Primary to Senior School. According to information from the foundation the best performing teacher gets P20 000. Best performing students primary, junior and senior each gets P5 000. As for schools the best primary school gets P10 000, junior school P15 000 and senior school when it performs well gets P20 000.

Tlhalerwa was not available for comment as his office line and that of his secretary rang unanswered. Masimolole who kept deferring the interview as he said he was in a meeting since morning would later not pick his phone. Kgang confirmed that he is concerned about the way Mabaila is politically maneuvering in the name of the foundation. He wondered why the foundation is only focusing in Mogoditshane. The former Kweneng Region Chairman said he has not taken any step to report the matter to the party. His opinion is that Mabaila is a civil servant and should not meddle in party politics.

He said Mabaila once approached him and others suggesting that there should be a compromise. According to Kgang, relevant party structures and government departments should have long acted because this is not right.

For his part Mabaila fumed that if indeed Masimolole had attempted to report to the President it would be unfortunate. He said that would be tantamount to lack of respect for what he does for the residents of Mogoditshane, a village he has lived in for a decade. He said Masimolole should instead embrace what his foundation is doing for the constituency. “If indeed I am campaigning why is Masimolole bothered? Why can’t he campaign himself? If there was a problem it was to be raised by area MP Sedirwa Kgoroba not Masimolole.

I will continue doing what I have been doing in Mogoditshane whether Masimolole likes it or not. “That is disrespect for me as a young person trying to change lives something he could not do as area MP for 15 years. I am the tenth person to donate a house under the Presidential Housing Scheme, was that a campaign or I was responding to a presidential call or plea,” lashed out Mabaila. Regarding Kgang, Mabaila said the former is the one who approached him and told him to leave his constituency alone.

Mabaila explained that he has since dismissed Kgang because Mogoditshane is not his constituency. He revealed that if he were to campaign he would meet Masimolole at the freedom square. Mabaila said as a resident of Mogoditshane he prides himself in what he did for the constituency such as helping Mogoditshane Senior Secondary School to perform well by moving from being number 12 to being number six (6) best performing senior school in Form 5 results.

He declined to confirm his candidacy for the constituency maintaining that he is a public servant. “I am leaving the public service at the end of May. I will call a press conference then to let you know my plans going forward.”As if this is not enough Mabaila Foundation is fencing cemeteries in Mogoditshane and is scheduled from next week to paint residential houses in Mogoditshane. According to the foundation any house that is deemed in need of painting or repainting to give it a fresh look, will be painted.


Published in News

As the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) readies for the make or break National Congress in Tonota this coming July divisions are now deepening. This according to highly placed sources, has resulted in the BDP custodian Botsalo Ntuane, who is expected to defend his Secretary General post calling for a compromise. In fact Ntuane wants to broker a deal between the two warring factions for the chairmanship by giving up his seat and not defend it.

Fierce battle is expected for the position of Chairmanship between Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development Nonofo Molefhi. A close associate of Ntuane within the BDP has told Botswana Guardian that Ntuane has expressed willingness to give Molefhi the green light to be the party secretary general so that current chairman Masisi continues unchallenged.

Some observers believe the outcome of the congress will determine the future of the party as well as gauge its ability to face a combined opposition - Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC - in the 2019 polls. Party President Ian Khama at the party National Council last month in Gaborone raised the danger of a fractured BDP going into the general elections against a united opposition.

He appealed to his followers to close ranks and reach a compromise where possible. His message was however diluted by his declaration of support for Masisi. The president’s declaration did not sit well with the supporters of Molefhi whose supporters went on to demonstrate their show of strength by singing party songs and spotting campaign regalia for their preferred candidate.

Ntuane is said to hold the opinion that the current lobby groups could be a repeat of history which resulted in the historic BDP split in 2010 that saw the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
However, investigations by Botswana Guardian have revealed that operatives in the two opposing camps, Team Masisi and Team Molefhi known commonly as ‘Basisibetsi’ and ‘Banonofhi’ respectively have deployed foot soldiers all over the country in an attempt to dominate the various party structures by installing their activists.

But amidst the campaigning, reliable sources have indicated that Ntuane, worried by the looming divisions, has in accord with President Khama’s proposal, started talking to some of his colleagues about coming up with compromise solution to address the divisions afflicting the party in the build-up to the congress.
“He has indicated that he is willing to sacrifice and step aside so that the position of the secretary general can be used to broker

peace and unity between the two camps with Molefhi becoming secretary general,” said Ntuane’s close associate. Despite being the frontrunner to retain the post in Tonota it is alleged that Ntuane thinks Masisi must be given a free passage into chairmanship since he is the incumbent and also be supported to ascend to the state presidency on April 1st 2018.

So far, Ntuane’s informal proposal is still circulating within various circles in the party and it is not yet known how it will be received especially by the much energised Banonofhi team which is raring for a show down in Tonota.  Ntuane is also said to have indicated that in case his proposal fails to gain support, he will go ahead to defend his position.

Ntuane is to defend his seat against former cabinet minister and Botswana Ambassador to Japan Jacob Nkate, former Secretary General Mpho Balopi and Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness Phillip Makgalemele. Ntuane could not be reached for comment on his mobile phone and had not responded to an SMS sent to him at press time.

Published in News
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 10:52

What the judges said

Three of the five Court of Appeal judges who presided over a Constitutional case between Omphemetse Motumise and President Ian Khama have indicated that even though they agreed with the judgement delivered by Justice Isaac Lesetedi they differ with him on certain findings especially with interpretation of Section (96) 2 of the Constitution. The section states that the President shall appoint all other judges, in accordance with the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission.

Justice Gaongalelwe
He said the main issue in the appeal is whether in terms of Section 96 (2) of the Constitution judges of the High Court are practically to be appointed by the President or by Judicial Service Commission (JSC). The judge said the contentions revolve around the proper interpretation of the phrase ‘shall be appointed by the President acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial Service Commission’.
He said the phrase falls to be interpreted within the context of the whole Constitution and the nature of the regime adopted at the time of acquiring independence.

“My view is that there is no universally accepted meaning attributed to the Phrase ‘acting in accordance with the advice.’ It all depends on the regime of a particular country and the context in light of other provisions of the Constitution. I am in agreement with the conclusion of the lower court that in this matter the phrase simply means the president is not to appoint a person who has not been recommended by JSC. The appeal on this claim must accordingly be dismissed as well.”

Lord Hamilton
“I am in complete agreement with the disposals proposed by Justice Lesetedi and with much of the reasoning which supports the disposals. However, there are some aspects of his reasoning on the interpretation of Section 96 (2) with which I disagree. It is accordingly, appropriate that I express these in a separate judgement.”
Hamilton told the court that his first observation is that he agrees with Justice Lesetedi’s general approach to the interpretation of the Constitution, namely that it being a living and organic instrument, it should be interpreted broadly and generously and in a way which reflects the ideas, values and standards current at the time when it falls to be applied to a particular situation.
He agrees that the court should consider not only the terms of the particular provision under interpretation but also the other provisions of the Constitution which gives it context. Where he disagrees with his brother on this aspect is his (Lesetedi) discounting, as unhelpful to the task before the court, of the events which occurred immediately prior to this Constitution first coming into existence.
He said these events are helpful for the purposes of interpretation. “The critical words for interpretation in Section 96 (2) of the present Constitution are ‘shall be appointed by the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the JSC’. It is clear that the President has a role in such appointments but the question is ‘what role?’ Is his role purely ‘formal’ or does he have some determinative role in such an appointment”.

Lord Abernethy
Lord Abernethy said he also disagrees with some reasoning on the interpretation of Section 96 (2). He explained that it is trite in the interpretation of statutes and other written documents the aim of the court is to identify the intention of the legislature in the case of a statute, of the author or authors in the case of other written documents.
He stated that he agrees with Lord Hamilton for the reason he gives that the events leading to the decision to use the particular words of the provision are helpful for the purpose of interpretation of the words used in the section. He told court that it is in his view that of particular significance that the original proposal from the Government of Bechuanaland at the Bechuanaland Independence Conference was that judges of the High Court should be appointed by JSC.
“In my opinion, on a proper interpretation of Section 96 (2) the president’s power to appoint these judges is no more than a formal power and the substantive power lies with the JSC. The President accordingly acted unconstitutionally in my opinion in declining to appoint Motumise to the office of a Judge of the High Court,” he stated.


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