The defunct BCL mine employed over 500 employees on both permanent and temporary basis after its closure in October 2016, for care and maintenance. But the party for some of them has come to an end as they too face imminent retrenchment. Eric Molale, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security told parliament that the BCL Liquidator has engaged a total of 477 permanent and 33 temporary workers at BCL.
He has also hired 34 permanent and two temporary workers at Tati Nickel Mine. MP for Selibe Phikwe West, Ditlhapelo Koorapetse asked Molale to state the number of workers employed by the BCL Liquidator for purposes of care and maintenance, what this care and maintenance entails and whether there is intention to reduce the number of these workers; and the number of foreign employees, their qualifications and positions.
Molale said the care and maintenance of the mine entails de-watering the mine shafts which requires pumping, ventilation, repairs of critical mining infrastructure and machinery required such as cages, pumping equipment, water treatment plants, the concentrator upkeep and surface area clean up. He said this was necessary as it is meant to maintain and prepare the assets for disposal. “My ministry has no intention to reduce the care and maintenance employment levels. In fact, I have asked the Liquidator to optimise employment levels to comply with the relevant legislation, in particular, as it relates to safety and health”.
The response prompted a supplementary question from Keorapetse. He said there is a memo or letter addressed to the care and maintenance staff that some of them will be retrenched. “Yes, I am aware of those letters. In the first instance, there are routine human resource processes when it relates to contractual matters. As I said in my answer, the halving or reduction or even stopping is not an option and that is what I made clear to the liquidator when I was in Selebi Phikwe last month,” said Molale. The minister said there is going to be a meeting next week between himself, the liquidator and the Registrar and Master of the High Court to try and resolve certain issues around the reporting channels that have to do with the liquidator doing his job and his reporting channels.
“There may be some conflicts as you are asking, but we are resolving them, because when there is a problem, we should not be part of the problem, we should be part of the solution,” said Molale. Keorapetse asked another supplementary question wanting to know whether the ministry has anybody to rely on in terms of information about what is going on at BCL during this process of liquidation, in terms of safe guarding the interest, especially of Batswana. He asked Molale if he has anybody with the requisite, necessary expertise to inform him about what is going on there besides the liquidator.
Molale answered in the affirmative stating that, “I do have the Minerals Development Company (MDC) that I rely on to give me the information”. He said that given the multi-sect oral nature of the liquidation, he has also set up a high level team to complement the work that is being done by the MDC in as far as “giving me up-to-date and correct information on a daily basis”.
Botswana National Front President Advocate Duma Boko says this week he is expecting a team of experts who will do a survey for his party regarding next year’s general election. Advocate Boko stated that this is part of his strategy as leader of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to topple ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) from government. He revealed that he recently engaged experts to do a study for UDC on what should be done to win the 2019 general election.
“They have given me a report. According to their report 34 percent of electorates are aligned with the UDC. Most of these people are the youth. Next year is for regime change and if we cannot change government then we are wasting our time. The report has recommended that we should target this group of people and ensure that the message we are going to craft for general election speaks to them. They would be here to do thorough analysis,” said Advocate Boko who accepted that there are problems in the UDC.
He said the UDC contracting partners need each other desperately. He said the UDC would engage in precision marketing in order to win the general election. He said challenges at UDC are unique and resolving them needs to be approached with care. The UDC leader told BNF conference in Rakops during President Holidays that as a collective they have to identify problems at UDC. He explained that after identifying the problems then they have to come up with diagnostic treatment.
“I have been under attack for refusing the kicking out of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) from the UDC. I was not refusing just because I wanted to. I told you that to do such we would be creating more problems in the UDC. I told you that it would be unlawful to do that. I said we should find another way of dealing with the matter. I accept all the insults that were hurled at me by you,” he said.
He said as the party the BNF needs to have vibrant constituencies, wards and regions. Advocate Boko revealed that the ten regions would be coordinating the 2019 general election. The UDC leader pointed out that the BNF has to decide if they want to be considered the backbone of the UDC or the belly of the movement. “If you want to be regarded as the backbone of the UDC, then you would have to act like one,” he said. Advocate Boko stated that they have to face the challenges bedeviling the UDC.
BNF is currently at loggerheads with BMD over constituencies. The BNF conference sent a strong message to the BMD when it resolved that there should be primary elections in all BMD constituencies and wards except constituencies where BMD is incumbent. Out of the 13 constituencies, BMD is only incumbent in two constituencies being Molepolole South and Mochudi West.
The BMD however has already chosen candidates for most of its constituencies and wards. BNF conference resolved that ‘noting that after several and consistent requests BNF made to have a bilateral with BMD to address the representation issues, BMD has consistently not been responsive. We therefore resolve that there should be joint primary elections under the UDC in all the parliamentary and council seats allocated to the BMD in 2014, except where it holds incumbency. If this fails, then the BNF should assume the leadership of these constituencies and wards. The UDC Congress would be the final arbiter if the above two do not succeed.’ BMD has in the past indicated that it would only have bilateral talks with their colleagues if any party interested in some of its constituencies should be prepared to swap.
Former Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Member of Parliament for Chobe, Gibson Nshimwe has died aged 60.
According to a statement from the party’s Information and Publicity Secretary, Dithapelo Keorapetse, the former MP died on Sunday following a short illness. “It is with deepest sorrow that we inform party members and Batswana of the passing of our beloved comrade and BCP founder Cde Gibson Nshinwe on Sunday the 15th April 2018,” reads part of the statement sent by the BCP on Monday.
Born in 1958 in Satau village in Chobe District, Nshimwe untimely passing has robbed the party and the country of a principled, adept and devoted patriot who contributed immensely to the development of his community and the country, Keorapetse said. Nshimwe who died aged 60, is former Member of Parliament for Chobe Constituency from 2009-2014 and also served as a Councilor for Plateu Ward in Kasane for 10 years (1994-2004). He was also once BCP Regional Chairman for North West region and at the time of his death a Deputy Regional Chairman.
He has been in opposition politics for decades, advocating for greater democracy and socio-economic uplifting of Batswana. Nshimwe was also a businessman with interests in the tourism sector.
He is survived by his mother, 3 daughters and 5 siblings. Daily memorial services are currently held everyday at his house in Plateu Ward in Kasane.
He’ll be laid to rest on Saturday the 21st in Kasane.
The Opposition coalition deal remains on shaky grounds. The marriage between Botswana Congress Party (BCP)and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) might have been declared done and sealed but the four opposition parties involved are not lying on the same bed. Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has emerged as a suspect behind the controversial additional four constituencies demand made by Botswana Peoples Party (BPP).
Four opposition parties Botswana Congress Party (BCP), BMD, BPP and Botswana National Front (BNF) have formed a united front with the aim of ending Botswana Democratic Party’s five-decade rule. The four parties unveiled their new movement, UDC, after BCP joined the other trio that had been working together. Following the announcement of the new UDC, excitement filled many little knowing that what had transpired behind closed doors was not what has been portrayed publicly by the leadership.
The allocation of constituencies, which has been a thorny issue, is refusing to set the UDC free. It is alleged that the decision by the BPP Central Committee at its recent meeting to push for an additional four constituencies was masterminded by BMD. BPP has been allocated four constituencies.
Sources say that the acrimonious relationship between BCP and BMD, which dates back to 2011 when the first attempt for coalition between opposition parties failed, is the root cause. BMD is said to be bitter that BCP has been given more constituencies and is trying with all it has to reduce the BCP numbers. BCP has been allocated 17 constituencies within the 40 allocated to UDC.
In terms of the constituency allocations, the UDC president Duma Boko revealed that inside the UDC, the BNF gets 22 constituencies, BMD 14 and the BPP four (4) constituencies. Information passed to this publication shows that of the additional four constituencies demanded by BPP, three belong to BCP being Francistown West, Nata-Gweta and Mmadinare while one belongs to BNF being Gaborone South. In all these constituencies, the BPP did not field a candidate in the previous elections.
“What also raises eyebrows is that the BPP has not asked for a constituency from the BMD. And it is known that the BMD has all along been skeptical about us joining the UDC. They just want to dilute the BCP influence. Why can’t the BPP request to be allocated from the 40 constituencies of the UDC and leave our 17 constituencies alone? We have compromised and given the Tati East which was to be given to the BCP”, said a senior BCP official who preferred anonymity.
It is alleged that the BMD hatched the plan so that it would become the biggest victor in the end. A source who was also part of the constituency allocation negotiating team suspects that should the BPP emerge victorious the constituencies would likely be handed over to the BMD under a provision of the agreement. The source wondered why BPP chose the constituencies that it had not fielded a candidate in nor seconded the BDP in the last election?
BPP did not field a candidate in Mmadinare, Gaborone South and Nata-Gweta while it came third under the UDC ticket in Francistown West. A provision has been made that where a party that has been allocated a particular constituency is not able to identify a suitable candidate, it will be expected to approach the other parties for assistance in that regard. The provision allows for trade-offs where necessary between the parties (BCP, BMD, BNF and BPP).
It is suspected that the BMD intends to exploit this provision and use its presence and numbers in those constituencies to persuade BPP to trade-off those constituencies. BMD Vice President Wynter Mmolotsi has described as “an insult” the insinuation that the BPP leadership would make that demand under pressure from BMD.
“We are not in a position to undermine the leadership of the BPP. That is an insult to the leadership of BPP and the party in general. BPP has more experience than the BMD especially in opposition politics and we respect that”, said Mmolotsi adding that as the BMD they would not be party to a matter where the BPP integrity is being belittled.BCP Information and Publicity Secretary Dithapelo Keorapetse told this publication that everything that had to be communicated to the media regarding UDC was done during the unveiling of the new project. He explained that any other issues arising subsequently are “internal matters” that cannot be shared with a third party.
For his part BPP President Motlatsi Molapisi and his deputy Mbaakanyi Lenyatso could not be reached for comment. Political Analyst Anthony Morima says if the constituencies are genuinely demanded by the BPP this would be an own goal for the opposition as prospects of winning in 2019 are negative. Morima stated that looking at the history of the BPP no one really recalls when the party last won a Parliamentary seat. He explained that even if the BPP was to say that they would be relying on support of other partners, it is unlikely that those partners would vote them because of other dynamics. The analyst argues that the BPP should rather be concentrating on taking advantage of the new UDC to rebuild itself.
The Botswana Peoples’ Party (BPP) has formally raised objections about the number of constituencies allocated to it during the just-ended opposition cooperation talks involving the four parties in the opposition coalition - Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
The party has been given four constituencies, while the BNF, BCP and BMD have got 22, 17 and 14 constituencies each in that order. In a letter written January 28th and signed by party secretary general, Otlaadisa Otlaadisa and addressed to the UDC secretary general, Ndaba Gaolathe, the party indicates that, it discussed the UDC-BCP cooperation talks and resolved that it was underrepresented regarding the number of constituencies allocated to it.
“It is therefore on that breath that the committee has resolved to make a fresh request and or submissions as we hereby do, through you on our preferred additional constituencies,” said the letter. Specifically, the party wants to be given Gaborone South which has been a BNF stronghold for many years until 2014 when the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) won it. Said the BPP, “The rationale behind this request or submission is that our vice president, a capable man, is based in Gaborone. It is therefore appropriate in our view that as a senior member of both the Botswana Peoples’ Party and the UDC he has a constituency in Gaborone to contest.”
The BPP explained that, should the BPP not be allocated a constituency in Gaborone or at least one major city, it will face certain death because, “…cities play a crucial role on the development of a political space.” Mbaakanyi Lenyatso is the BPP vice president and stays in Gaborone. The party would like Francistown West to be given to it, so that, its president, Motlatsi Molapisi, who resides in Francistown, may have a constituency to contest in the second city. The constituency has been allocated to the BCP.
The BPP also wants Nata-Gweta, Mmadinare and Shashe West, all of which have been given to the BCP, to be allocated to it. As a bare minimum the BPP wants to be allocated eight constituencies. Efforts to ask for confirmation of receipt of the BPP letter from Gaolatle could not bear fruit as his cell phone rang unanswered.
Opposition parties’ parliamentary candidate for Okavango in the 2019 general election Kenny Kapinga has revealed that the ruling BDP approached him while he was with the police service but that he refused to join their party.
He assured Okavango voters that he will continue to reject the promises that are being made by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) executives. Kapinga said the BDP executives told him to get a party membership card so that they will give him some top positions such as commissioner of police.He said he rejected the offer because he is a patriot and can’t be bought by the ruling party using big positions. “There are so many things that I have done and am proud of like rejecting the promises of the ruling party who are still doing so but I will continue to reject them, I can’t trade my soul for money or positions because I don’t want to be their object,” he said.
Kapinga said people thought that he was working for BDP that’s why they were approaching him adding that he knew that he was working for the government of Botswana. He said the BDP executives understood that they can’t use him to protect them when engaging in corruption or to abuse citizens. He said that after giving up on him they sent him to South Africa and later to Zimbabwe but vowed that he will never accept any offer from them. Kapinga however told the Okavango voters that he sees himself as the only man to represent them.
“I belong to this constituency, I have a cattle-post, borehole and cattle which really indicates that I am the son of this soil”, he said. For his part BCP youth league President, Tumiso Rakgare described Kapinga as a bona fide member of the constituency and a real patriot that rejected BDP’s promises and will never be bought by positions or money. “Our parliamentary candidate can’t be bought by billions of Pula like other guys who are being bought by BDP”, he said.He pronounced Kapinga as the biggest fish of the year in politics saying a constituency like Okavango which is poverty stricken while it is the hub of the Delta which is making billions of Pula through tourism, needs brave men like Kapinga who will win the battle in coming elections.
Meanwhile various speakers at the rally described the constituency’s Member of Parliament Bagalatia Arone as a ‘robber’ and a ‘crook’ who defected to the BDP with their votes.BCP president Dumelang Saleshando told Okavango electorate that Arone lied and misled them when he said he is joining the BDP to bring them developments. He said the MP stole BCP votes but added that they are not threatened in anyway.“We want to deal with Arone’s embezzlement by voting for Kenny Kapinga in the coming elections because he worked with law enforcements he will help us to deal with Arone’s theft”, he said. Saleshando said they still have hope of reclaiming the constituency.
He said they have been moving around the constituency and have managed to receive many members from BDP. “We have received 376 new members in Okavango constituency, most of them are from the ruling party and contested in the 2014 elections. This makes us believe that Arone’s defection is not a threat but rather a blessing”, he said.For his part, Vain Mamela said the MP is really a thief who ran with the people’s votes to BDP. He said that had it not been for BCP Arone would be running after students with chalk and duster because after he resigned from teaching, BCP pledged to give him a salary for a year.
“Arone found himself in big arrears because when he got to Gaborone he started imitating other MPs’ livelihoods forgetting that he is from Sekondomboro, which caused his defection because he was given money to buy a lodge”, he said.He however said they are not threatened because they know that the BDP will dump Arone in the coming election adding that they have realised that Arone is in plan of giving the constituency to Ian Khama and Tshekedi Khama so that they can do their businesses.
Mamela however said they are not threatened because in their travels throughout the constituency they have met and seen extremely worried constituents. Meanwhile Arone could not be reached for a comment at the time of going to press as his mobile phone rang unanswered.
The Speaker of the National Assembly has suddenly found herself on the other side of the aisle as the opposition parties, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) take her for just another Botswana Democratic Party legislator.
In their mission to oppose the proposed Bill for Presidential Gratuity and increment of Specially Elected Members of Parliament and Ministry’s Bill, the two parties accuse the speaker of mischief in favour of the ruling party and therefore promise no generosity towards her.The speaker has been identified as a major stumbling block following her decision to invoke standing Order 60.4, which she vowed to use on her quest to tighten screws against ‘misbehaving’ MPs.
The opposition whip, Wynter Mmolotsi told a media briefing recently that they were aware that the Speaker would try to intimidate them with the newly discovered Parliament Standing Order. Under this standing order, Kokorwe has so far suspended from Parliament two opposition MPs, Haskins Nkaigwa and Dithapelo Keorapetse of Gaborone north and Selibe Phikwe West respectively.
Kokorwe revealed at the start of the current session that she has been lenient on the MPs and she would stop at nothing to use Standing Order 60.4 against any MP whose behaviour would be un-Parliamentary. Mmolotsi, who is also UDC Member of Parliament for Francistown South stated that Kokorwe is serving the interest of the BDP. He said as opposition MPs they do not need the Speaker’s leniency.
“This standing order was just discovered when Parliament went on recess. This is the same discovery as that of some clauses of the Constitution that have been discovered on several occasions and used. The current administration would continue to use such clauses or pieces of legislation that would work to their advantage. We would not be silenced by the speaker to speak what we believe is true or oppose anything that is of no beneficial to Batswana and our country,” the legislator stated.He revealed that they have expressed their concerns on several occasions during the General Assembly.
According to Mmolotsi they have reached a point where they have no confidence on the speaker. He said they would also oppose the Bill that calls for the increase of Specially Elected MPs and increase of Ministers, which according to Mmolotsi, would be a costly exercise.
Mmolotsi said they were surprised to learn that the Bill would propose for a housing allowance as opposed to the current arrangement where government provides a retirement home for any President leaving office.The MP for Maun West, Tawana Moremi indicated that as the opposition they are against this development. He said they are already constrained to do parliament business, as there are a few backbenchers from the BDP. It is Moremi’s opinion that government was supposed to have first identified problems then look for resources to fix such problems.
“You cannot fix the problem at education ministry by splitting the ministry. You need to assess what you are trying to achieve. Then get resources to fix the problem. There has never been any mention of increasing MPs or ministries during the 2015 State of the Nation Address or even during the budget speech in February this year. Then all of a sudden the issues comes in June, who are they intending to reward?”
With the Botswana Democratic Party’s fondness of claiming credit for the country’s independence, the opposition political parties in Botswana are adamant that their role towards independence in 1966 and beyond has been of significant value.
Of the current 6 political parties in this country, only Botswana Peoples’ Party(BPP), Botswana Democratic Party(BDP) and Botswana National Front(BNF) existed before independence. Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin(MELS), Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana Movement for Democracy(BMD) were formed in the 80s, 90s and 2000s respectively.
Discussing the role of the opposition in a democarcy, Julius Kiiza of Makerere University said that, besides holding government to account for its commissions or omissions, the opposition provides the electorate with electoral alternatives. “Parties present a viable alternative to the incumbent government by designing alternative ideas, principles and policies for governing society. Should the party in power let the voters down, the ‘government-in-waiting’ takes over the reigns of power through free and fair elections,’’ says Kiiza. The opposition parties are also expected to articulate the interests of the people they represent both during parliamentary sessions and the budget process. According to him, by “Promoting responsible and reasonable debate, opposition parties promote a national conversation and pushes democratic discussion to a higher level of political development and maturity.” Opposition parties help raise political consciousness in the country by teaching the people how politics affects their lives.
Kiiza further says that parties, including the opposition, are the training ground for future leaders. “Shadow cabinet ministers, for example, typically conduct serious party business in their designated portfolios,” he says adding that the participation of party members at their respective conferences and other party fora engender s the spirit of tolerance, enhance accountability and entrenches the culture of democarcy.
Mpho Molomo of the University of Botswana (UB) says this about opposition parties, “They play a countervaillance role to government and make it more transparent, accountable and responsive to the people.” The academic goes on to explain that, in trying to play their role, the opposition in Botswana was faced with daunting challenges such as financial constraints in a country where there is no political funding. “At the same time, over the years, the BDP has had unfair advantage by receiving funding from external resources. According to him, the ruling party, in 1999, got P24 million from an undisclosed source. “In typical Mafia style, the source of the money was only identified as ‘Client’ under code name MRMDU 33XXXX in the bank telegraphic tranfer transcript,” he stated. Opposition parties have complained that their efforts have been compromised by the ruling party’s dominance of the public media at the expense of its competitors.
The challenges notwithstanding, the secretary general of the BPP, Shathiso Tambula maintains that his party has contributed hugely to the development of this country. “The country is where it is today because we have played our role as an opposition party with alternative views. The BDP was in no hurry to change anything even after the attainment of independence. The BDP had no problem with the country using the South African Rand after leaving the British Pound at the occassion of independence until the BPP raised its voice resulting in the introduction of the Botswana Pula and Thebe, our own currency,” said Tambula who also reminisced that, for some time, after independence motor vehicles had registration numbers with a ‘P’ for Protectorate. For instance, the plate numbers, according to him, were BPA(Francistown), BPB(Serowe), BPD(Gaborone), BPE(Palapye), BPF(Lobatse), BPG(Kanye) and so forth.
Tambula added that it was the BPP that pressurised government to buy land from the Tati Company for settlement by some communities in and around Francistown. “Our first manifesto said that a BPP government would introduce the old-age pension. We also talked about free education long back,” said Tambula whose party came into being in 1960. He added that the BPP’s demand for tribal equality has given hope to the minority tribes some of whom government has begun to recognise. For his part, the information and publicity secretary of the BNF, Moeti Mohwasa, says his party has shaped the modern day Botswana. The party was founded in 1965. “Both in and outside parliament, we advocated for free education and when it eventually came, access to education increased manyfold,” said Mohwasa who further attributed the introduction of Setswana in Parliament as well as the establishment of the Independent Electoral Commission(IEC) to agitation by the BNF.
The BNF spokesman gives credit for the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18 years to the BNF. “Elections in this country have always been unfair but we participated in them in the face of all the provocation. For exmple, the ruling party has always dominated the state media but instead of boycotting the elections in ptrotest, we hoped for the best and mobilised our people to go to the polls. We did not want instability in the country,” said Mohwasa. The BNF official said that one of the achievemets of his party has been to organise labour to rise and fight for their rights. “All in all, we have been a worthy opposition,” added Mohwasa.
“As a collective, the opposition has done a lot for this country. We have been peaceful even under the most difficult of circumstances. For example, we have, since independence, tolerated mismanagement of the elections by the BDP government which made it difficult for the opposition to win. This was not because we did not have the wherewithal to go to war. If the opposition were not tolerant, there could have been war. We perservered because we treasure peace. We love this country,” declared Themba Joina, the founder of MELS in 1984.
“Considering that we were formed as recently as 1998, there is no doubt that, looking at the motions that we have passed which were adopted by parliament, we have an admirable track record,” said the vice president of the BCP, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang. He noted with pride that his party successfully moved a motion seeking the exemption of basic food items from VAT. “First time home owners were exempted from VAT when buying building materials,” remembered Dr Gobotswang. His party tried to push through a motion for the inactment of the Freedom of Information Bill but the motion failed. “Our motion on the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities motion was never given a chance by the BDP either,” regretted Dr Gobotswanag. “
He also mentions his party’s role in civil society activism. “We are the only party in the country that sent out a mission to the CKGR at the height of the controversy to relocate the Basarwa by government. We produced a report and we are happy that, the High Court judgement that followed after the matter was taken to court had startling similarities with our findings. We have also published and distributed copies of the Democracy Alert whenever we saw the need such as during the public service strike,” His party has also used platforms such as the Ombudsman and the courts to advance some of their activism.
The chairman of the BMD, Nehemiah Modubule contends that the BMD, formed in 2010, has been a game changer in the political landscape. “For starters, the split of the BDP and resultant formation of the BMD has made it possible for the opposition to attain the unprecedented 53 percent of the popular vote in the 2014 general election which translated into 20 seats. Because of our contribution and participation in the cooporation talks, a total of three parties managed to go to the election as a united front. Previous efforts at uniting the opposition did not go far,” said Modubule who noted that democracy in this country is much stronger thanks to the BMD. “We are a force to reckon with,” boasted the veteran of opposition politics.
While admitting that the opposition has contributed to this country’s democratic heritage at least by their very existence in the political space, the secretary general of the Botswana Democratic Party(BDP), Botsalo Ntuane, has found the opposition wanting with regard to meaningful contributions in Parliament. “We would not be enjoying our status as one of the foremost democracies in the world if we didn’t have an opposition that since independence has been permitted to operate feely without repression or harrassment,” said Ntuane in a written response to an enquiry. Ntuane, however, said that the opposition has, for the past 50 years, failed to come up with workable alternative policies that resonate with Batswana. “Voters need progressive and life affirming policies and not the grievance politics that increasingly seems to be the stock in trade of our opposition,”
On Tuesday this week the Okavango constituency office in Shakawe was locked from the inside. A sign on the door read, “Meeting in progress. Come later.” The office, which houses Member of Parliament, Bagalatia Arone of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), remained locked until the late hours of the day.
Later that day, in the evening, MP Arone approached a close friend of his and told him that ‘I am joining these guys’. His friend asked him what he meant and the BCP man who is on his second term as MP for the Okavango constituency told him that he was defecting to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party. And his main reason: financial gain. “He basically told me that he does not want to leave politics a poor man,” said Arone’s friend who preferred to be anonymous. Arone has not handed in his resignation letter yet but sources say he will be a BDP member as soon as next week. A letter of intent to join the BDP is expected to reach the party before end of this week.In Botswana, politicians defect to a different party rarely because of conflicting ideologies but rather for personal reasons and of late for financial gain.
According to sources, Arone had earlier on Tuesday told employees of the constituency office that he was joining the BDP and thus they should follow him lest they lose their jobs. The constituency office secretary has since indicated that she will follow Arone to the BDP, sources have said. A Botswana Congress Party councillor for Nxamasere-Xhaoga-Samothima ward in Okavango, Gaopalelwe Ronald told this publication on Tuesday that Arone approached him and tried to recruit him (Ronald) to the BDP. “He told me that he was joining the BDP and thus he wanted me to also defect,” said Ronald. The latter refused the offer to join the BDP.
According to the councillor the MP was busy this week consulting and recruiting members of the BCP to the ruling party, a move which prompted his party (BCP) to suspend him. So far the councillors that Arone have approached have turned him down and the likelihood is that he will reach Tsholetsa House alone or with some ordinary party members in the constituency. The BCP had earlier on Tuesday said they did not have any letter of resignation from any of their MPs, and as a result could not address rumors. But the party later on the day released a statement stating that they have suspended Arone pending further investigations.
Ronald said the MP told him that he was joining the ruling party because being in opposition disadvantages the constituency in terms of developments. His reason being that Okavango, a constituency hit by poverty and rising unemployment numbers, remains less developed because it is in the hands of the opposition. The constituency for many years remained an opposition stronghold.Meanwhile, Ronald revealed to Botswana Guardian that Arone also told him that he is joining the BDP because opposition politics cannot make him rich.
It is currently not clear how Arone’s defection to the BDP will help him financially but sources say the MP has purchased a lodge in Shakawe and has another “project” in Letlhakane. Insiders say the MP is looking at life after politics. Apparently the MP got himself into a financial mess and the BDP has arranged to rescue him. “The lodge is the one that got him into trouble. He underfinanced and could not renovate to start operations. BDP has arranged to finance,” said an insider. The lodge in question, Hawk Guest House is currently going through renovations. A source based in Shakawe told this publication that renovation works have started at the lodge.
It is not yet clear what project the MP is working on in Letlhakane but sources said he told close friends that he has something coming up in that area. Contacted for comment, Arone denied joining BDP for financial gains. “People like prophesy”, he said without denying or confirming his defection. Asked about the lodge Arone indicated that he applied for a loan at CEDA and it was approved in November last year.
Pressed further about under financing and the renovations Arone hung the phone, but not before he angrily exclaimed “le a ntapisa banna, nna ke busy mo kgaolong ke tla bua le lona ke le ko Gaborone (you guys are irritating me, I am busy in my constituency and I will talk to you when I get to Gaborone). BDP Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane said they have not received anything official to suggest that Arone is their member. He however said anything could happen and if it so happens that anyone joins the BDP, it would be accordingly communicated.
Defection part of Mokgweetsi Masisi’s recruitment drive
Botswana Guardian understands that Arone’s defection to the ruling party is part of a major scheme by Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi to build his own team within the party. Many of the opposition members who recently decamped to the BDP are said to be recruited by Masisi. He is the one who puts their personal deals together as he wants to build a team that will be loyal to him as he fights for the BDP top post. Masisi is largely viewed as someone who has no base in the Barata Party or A Team factions of the BDP and is a man in need of a faction that he can count on. All the BCP members who have since joined the party among them former youth league President Lotty Manyapetsa have been linked to Masisi as he sees them as hard working individuals that he can count on. Masisi could not be reached for comment as his phone rang unanswered. For his part Manyapetsa said as any BDP member he is loyal to the party and not individuals and anything he does in the party would be in accordance with the assignment given to him by the party.
BCP to approach Kenny Kapinga
Insiders have told this publication that the BCP members in the constituency want the party leadership to approach Botswana’s outgoing Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Kenny Kapinga to represent the party come 2019. Kapinga is viewed as a BCP sympathiser.
Okavango has been a BCP stronghold for long and it is anticipated that come what may, the BDP may still find it difficult to claim the constituency under Arone. Efforts to reach Kapinga at press time were futile. On social media page ‘Facebook’, Kapinga on May 27th,bid Zimbabweans and Batswana living in Zimbabwe farewell. “The reality of life is that there is time for everything. I am now home, ready to venture onto new career altogether,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
President Dr. Ian Khama’s government has come under heavy criticism for its deafening silence over the Panama leaks which continue to link local businesspeople to involvement in offshore accounts.
The scathing attacks were made by the former Speaker of Parliament Dr. Margaret Nasha recently in Francistown. Nasha, who dumped Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in favour of its offspring Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) said that since the Panama leaks, Khama has preferred remained tight lipped even though some local businessmen have been fingered in the alleged dirty tax evasion deal. She pointed out that while other countries have taken measures against their citizens’ involvement in Panama, Khama’s regime has preferred to remain mum in the process leaving the public with more questions than answers.
“The British Prime Minister David Cameron was at one point under pressure as citizens wanted him to step down since he benefited from the Panama offshore accounts held by his father. This is a clear sign that the country’s powers that be are gravely concerned to the extent of knowing the truth about these offshore accounts. Khama’s silence on this issue is questionable as it leaves a lot of questions than answers,” she explained.
Her sentiments follow hard on recent revelations that President of the Court of Appeal Ian Kirby and Farouk Ismail, a major shareholder in Choppies, are also linked to the Panama leaks. Nasha said that people should start asking themselves questions as to why Khama is silent this time around. She suspects that a good number of influential figures of the country are connected to the leaks.
“Go ka se didimalwe jaana. Tjingwenyana tji yapo,” she added in Kalanga to the amusement of the crowd. Nasha is also disappointed that the current government is run without a National Development Plan which she said is like a budget. Her other worry is that running a country without a budget breeds fertile ground for money laundering by leaders.
“Corruption cases involving high ranking government officers are not brought before the court and this a laughable matter as these guys are hiding something. When rot was smelt at Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), we advised that an investigation be carried out to salvage the BMC only for the president to refuse until BMC went on its knees. When we tried to investigate Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) on their glass manufacturing plant in Palapye, Khama refused until the project collapsed and it will never stand up again. We have plenty of salt but the president doesn’t see the need to package it locally in the process creating employment,” she added.