President Mokgweetsi Masisi has returnsl from his visit to Beijing, China, certainly a happy man, in light of the concessions he has extracted from his counterpart, Xi Jingping. According to official news reports China has extended some P340 million for Botswana’s development and on top of that, cancelled Botswana’s P80million debt. This is no small feat by any measure.
Masisi’s state visit has also calmed the frosty relations between China and Botswana, which erupted last year over a planned visit of Tibet’s spiritual leader, Dalai Lama to Botswana for a peace conference. The two nations’ cordial relations which were begun in 1975 by this country’s founding fathers were almost sullied by this single act, which China deemed offensive and against the spirit of the One China Policy, which Botswana has always respected. Masisi will announce in a press conference tomorrow 9Saturday 8th September) other concessions that he has made with the Chinese people across economic, social, cultural and political relations. A sticking point for most of the Asian investors has over the years been Botswana’s restrictive immigration laws.
Thankfully, Masisi has since committed to review the immigration policies with a view to relax visa and work permit requirements for investors, businesspeople and other foreign nationals visiting the country as either tourists or workers.Even though Botswana and China have signed Memorandum of Understanding on various areas of cooperation during the recent state visit, there is serious concern that the agreement on promotion and protection of investment between the two nations, which was signed in June 2000, has not entered into force.
Reasons advanced for this delay are that it is being withheld by “legal issues,” on the Botswana side, while China has already signed it and passed it through Parliament. In a recent interview before the delegation left for China, the country’s Chief Negotiator at the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, Phadzha Butale expounded further on this.“Indeed we signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with China. Subsequent to that we found that BITs as previously crafted brought unforeseen problems and debilitating consequences for developing countries particularly in Africa.
“As a result, both nationally and regionally a decision was taken to review our template BIT and to come up with a suitable model that would be adopted in the region at SADC. Thus Botswana took the decision to impose a moratorium on the negotiation and commencement of BITs where same had been signed so as to allow for their review. The review is still underway and the moratorium still stands,” said Butale.
Trade value between Botswana and China is skewed in China’s favour. Li Hongbing, the First Secretary in the Economic and Commercial Counsellor's Office at the Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China in Botswana, says the trade value between China and Botswana was US$ 266 million. Chinese statistics show that in the same period, the outflow of foreign direct investment from China to Botswana dropped 77 percent year-on-year to US$ 18.78 million, while the amount of FDI from China to SADC was US$ 1.07 billion.
China’s main imports from Botswana were jewellery, precious metals and their products, mineral sand and ash; oil seed kernels, clothing and accessories. There is hope that China could relax her sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) standards and lift the ban on Botswana’s beef exports to that huge market. Observers however, wonder whether Botswana would be able to supply that market with beef if this came to pass. It is food for thought, as Botswana explores alternative export markets in her quest to diversify her economy and bring poverty levels down.
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.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) could find itself in court over the Constitution that has been filed at Registrar of Societies.The new Constitution was filed last week Friday. According to information gathered by this publication one of the contracting partners, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) is contesting the submitted Constitution. The new Constitution has incorporated amendments tabled during the February Congress that was held at Boipuso Hall.
The congress wanted the constitution to be amended by removing the provision that catered for two vice presidents and replace it with one vice president to align it to the republican constitution. The new constitution now caters for one vice president and has given powers to the National Congress instead of the National Executive Committee (NEC). It also gives UDC powers to suspend and or expel a contracting member. The constitution recognises Botswana Congress Party (BCP) as a member of the UDC. Members of the NEC are President, Vice President, National Chairperson, Treasurer General, Secretary for Communication and Publicity, Secretary for Legal Affairs, Secretary for Labour Affairs, Secretary for Gender Affairs, Secretary for International Affairs, Secretary for Youth Affairs and one member from each of the contracting parties. The NEC shall hold office for a period of four (4) years until the next election.
During its conference in Rakops this past weekend, one of the contracting members, Botswana National Front (BNF) resolved that having noted that the new UDC Constitution has been filed with the Registrar of Societies, the BNF should ensure that the process is concluded within twenty one (21) days. It has emerged that once the constitution has been adopted the NEC might call a special congress for adoption of the constitution.
“The BMD is contemplating contesting the Constitution in court because that is the wrong constitution. It is unfair to have registered a constitution which we do not know. The correct constitution has provision for two vice presidents and not one,” said a source. BCP President told journalists in Bobonong after the party’s conference that the submitted constitution provides for one vice president. Sources have however indicated that the BMD would humiliate itself if they try to challenge the constitution. It is alleged that the BCP and BNF believe that the incorporated amendments from the February Congress are the voice of the people and the constitution should reflect as such. “That was a political solution and it would be wrong to go against the will of the people.
The February congress was a decisive congress and nothing would change that. The argument by BMD that the congress was not decisive cannot be entertained. We cannot be taking our members for granted and expect them to gather around and not take decisions,” said another source. The BMD has for long maintained that the February congress was not decisive and nothing that came out of that conference was binding. BMD Spokesperson Winfred Rasina said as the BMD they know nothing about the submitted Constitution. He said as far as they know the Constitution that was agreed by the UDC structure being NEC, caters for two vice presidents. He said the one which has been submitted at Registrar of Societies is not a UDC Constitution.
“We have decided that we should give our colleagues who submitted the constitution to go and recall it. We take it that what they did was just a mistake and we are hopeful that the mistake would be corrected. The constitution accommodating two vice presidents was agreed by all the four parties and the one with one vice president is not for UDC,” said Rasina in an interview after BMD National Working Committee held a meeting on Wednesday. According to Rasina, the submitted Constitution would be the one where BCP is not a member. He said BCP is the one that suggested two vice presidents. He said the BCP had also suggested for UDC+ which was rejected. “That Constitution which you say was submitted according to us does not exist,” he said. Rasina could not be drawn into discussing their next move should the constitution be recalled.
The constitution is said to have been filed by UDC leader Advocate Duma Boko and Saleshando who is also one of the UDC vice presidents. Interestingly the constitution under suspension or expulsion states, at Article 21.1.1 that the National Congress and/or the National Executive Committee may by resolution suspend or expel a group member for acting against the interests of the Umbrella; failing to attend more than two (2) consecutive meetings of the National Executive Committee without an apology acceptable to the National Executive Committee; or failing to pay its group membership fees.
BMD might also face expulsion should it not agree to one of the resolutions taken by both BCP and BNF that there should be primary elections in all the BMD constituencies and wards except where the BMD is incumbent. “The UDC has not notified us of any new constitution. Naturally so we are not a part of any new constitution. We thus cannot be talking about something we are not a part of. We are only aware and a part of a constitution that accommodated the BCP into the UDC. And that is the constitution that exists.
“Any new instrument, or suggestion may be taken up with the UDC NEC and such a structure, comprising of four contracting parties may agree on way forward. It is not for any individual party to decide or resolve anything on behalf of the UDC. Such will be an anomaly that in politics, the view being national governance, will communicate something against the view,” pointed out Rasina.
Botswana Federation of Public Parastatal and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has accused President Mokgweetsi Masisi of taking them for granted after he snubbed the Federation’s elective congress this past weekend in Gaborone.
Members of the executive committee are of the view that the congress was an opportunity for the president to mend relations with one of the most influential Federations in the country.The congress came immediately after the departure of former President Khama who left office on the 1st April 2018. Khama had intense and fierce running battles with BOFEPUSU to the extent that he refused to meet the Federation leadership.Their sour relationship culminated in the 2011 industrial strike and subsequent amendments of labour laws which unions viewed as anti-workers, and reported Government to International Labour Organisation(ILO), something that tarnished Botswana’s international reputation.
“The bitter relations between Government and BOFEPUSU saw the Federation de-campaigning BDP MPs in 2014 elections which led to most of them losing and the opposition gaining more,” said an insider after news came in indicating that Masisi and his second in command Slumber Tsogwane would not attend the congress. Newly appointed Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Bogolo Kenewendo graced the event. From the atmosphere at the congress delegates were not happy with this development.
According to the Federation leadership, BOFEPUSU’s congress presented an opportunity for Masisi and his Government, it was expected that the new President would come up with a new approach of engaging with the labour centre.
“His luck came when the Federation invited him to come and address the Congress, and he confirmed attendance. Things took a twist when at the last minute Masisi snubbed BOFEPUSU and instead sent his Deputy Tsogwane. “To make matters worse, the Vice President did not show up at the Congress and instead Government sent the novice Minister Bogolo Kwenwendo,” said a BOFEPUSU executive member. It is believed this has angered the Federation as they felt insulted that the President and Vice President snubbed them and in turn sent a Minister who is wet behind the ears politically when there are seniors and relevant ministers such as Nonofo Molefhi (Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration) and Tshenolo Mabeo (Employment, Productivity and Skills Development). The development is interpreted as contempt against BOFEPUSU and non-consideration of workers’ importance in Masisi’’s work schedule. It is believed Masisi blew his chance and opportunity to appeal to unions, and they now view him from the same prism as Khama, as inaccessible which borders on arrogance. The lack of access to the country’s top office for unions has been a growing concern to BDP parliamentary hopefuls, as they fear the wrath of unions.
It remains to be seen as to what impact will the latest turn of events have on the build-up to 2019 elections. During May Day celebration this year BOFEPUSU accused Masisi of taking workers for granted when he assigned Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi to read live on television, the May Day message on his behalf. The Federation fumed saying this undermines workers given that Morupisi is regarded as one of the enemies of the workers. The federation then gave Masisi 100 days to ‘come to his senses’.BOFEPUSU Publicity Secretary Mogomotsi Motshegwe confirmed that they felt belittled by the high office. He said the congress was a good platform for the president to address workers and for the federation to make him appreciate labour issues and matters of national importance.
He said when the new administration indicated that it is willing to work with unions; they thought Masisi would live to his promise. “We thought this was the opportunity for him to share with us his deliverables on labour issues. “We were disappointed when he changed at last minute and decided to send his Vice. We thought because they share the high office together we should be understanding but when he sent a new minister who do not understand some of our issues as workers we felt belittled. “There are other senior ministers who understand our issues better that the president could have sent. But because we are democratic we welcomed her. We are very disappointed because it now shows that the president’s level of priorities is questionable,” Motshegwe said.
It never rains but pours for Treasurer of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC), Bruce Nkgakile.
While still reeling in shock this week after he was vetted out of participating in BDP primary elections, he suffered another heavy blow when BDP National Youth Executive Committee slapped him with a letter relinquishing him of his position as Treasurer.
At the beginning of this week Mogoditshane BDP Branch Chairman Kingston Mmolawa announced names of people minus Nkgakile who will be participating in the primary elections next month to challenge the incumbent, Sedirwa Kgoroba for 2019 general elections.
This was followed with another letter that indicated that NYEC meeting has resolved that Nkgakile should be removed from office and subsequent to that a new Treasurer be appointed. His removal from office is allegedly linked to the disappearance of P27 000.00 donation made towards the Youth Wing.
Nkgakile has revealed that the funds were used to purchase office furniture for NYEC. Nkgakile has argued that all these events are a witch-hunt by his detractors. He said that NYEC is not empowered to fire him from his post. “As things stand I am the Treasurer of NYEC. What was done is against the BDP NYEC Rules. Rule 7 (6) clearly states that NYEC can replace an ineffective officer.
“So their argument is not ineffectiveness but they are saying misconduct. But still Rule 7 (7) stipulates that if it’s misconduct then NYEC can report me to the Disciplinary Committee”, he explained.
He has maintained that there are some members of NYEC who would want him out. In fact according to a letter addressed to party Secretary General, Mpho Balopi, last month Nkgakile accuses NYEC Chairman Simon Moabi of frustrating him and making it difficult for him to execute his duties. He stated that Moabi has halted the delivering of the furniture bought for NYEC office.
Nkgakile has pleaded with the secretary general for intervention to resolve the standoff between him and NYEC chairman. He claims in the letter that ever since he assumed office from the Tsabong Youth Congress early this year NYEC has always been divided. Moabi could not be reached for comment.
• BDP enjoys 82% coverage
• Combined Opposition parties share 18%
• Broadcaster unduly favours BDP at the expense of other political parties - report
Office of the Ombudsman has found Botswana Television at fault for not affording opposition parties the same news coverage as the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.
This follows a report filed with the Ombudsman by Botswana National Front (BNF) Vice President Dr Prince Dibeela through a letter dated February 15th 2016. According to Ombudsman Augustine Makgonatsotlhe’s report, Dr Dibeela alleged that although it is a public broadcaster and is sustained through the taxes paid by all citizens, whose interest it is supposed to serve, BTV is instead used to serve the interests of the BDP.
Dr Dibeela argued that BTV rarely airs programmes of opposition parties and regularly bombards the public with BDP propaganda. Makgonatsotlhe stated in the report dated August 28th 2017 that Dr Dibeela was duly qualified, as a member of the public, to lodge a complaint as also his claim that his political party is likely to suffer injustice in consequence of the actions or inactions of the respondent (BTV) is justified and meritorious in accordance with Section 3 (1) of the Ombudsman Act.
The report shows that BDP enjoys 82 percent of coverage as compared to 18 percent shared by the rest of the opposition parties. According to the report, out of the 89 activities, only 16 from opposition were found to be newsworthy by BTV compared to 73 from the BDP. In his findings, Makgonatsotlhe stated that information gathered demonstrates that, despite the existence of good policy statements and guidelines, BTV has not lived up to those but has unduly favoured the ruling party in their coverage of political events.
“That obviously resulted in injustice to other political parties and those with an interest in Botswana’s political sphere as they were denied the opportunity to compete fairly with the ruling party. It is my view therefore that BTV’s coverage of political party activities does not meet the requirement of balance, equity and inclusiveness as set out under their mandate and guidelines.
“Such needs to be corrected in order for BTV to play its role properly and effectively,” Makgonatsotlhe stated. He explained that in a democratic set up like that of Botswana, it is therefore imperative that institutions such as a national broadcaster should be established by law or some instruments that will clearly spell out their mandates and governance structure; transparent in the discharge of their mandates and functions and accountable to the nation and Parliament in particular.
Makgonatsotlhe said in his view the allocation of air time slots on BTV is an administrative function of the leadership of that entity. He revealed that he has found that they have in the performance of such, unduly favoured the ruling party over the opposition, thus giving them an undue advantage in obtaining political mileage. He explained that this clearly caused an injustice to the opposition parties.
“BTV should therefore ensure a proper application of the principles stated in their Mandate and Editorial Guidelines to ensure that their reporting of political party activities is balanced, inclusive and equitable both in terms of the content and of the number of events covered”, he recommended.
He pointed out that only then would they be able to effectively and fairly inform the citizenry of the policies and programmes of the various political role players and to build the nation as per their mandate. This being an issue of national interest and being continuous in its nature, it can only be appropriate that these remedial measures must be put in place immediately, said Makgonatsotlhe.
African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe says it is time his party and South Africans take seriously the part played by Botswana and its people in liberating South Africa.
“When we talk ANC we mention countries other than Botswana. It is high time we highlight the fact that the first external conference of the ANC outside the South Africa soil after the ANC was banned was in Lobatse in Botswana.
“Secondly we need to have a monument in Botswana to remember the massacres that (sic) was carried out by the apartheid regime,” he stated. Mantashe, who led an ANC delegation to attend ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) 55th Anniversary in Serowe, said they came to Botswana to express their gratitude. He said Batswana did not only support the idea of forming the ANC.
“In the inaugural conference of the ANC Kgosi Khama of Bangwato was there. The resolution to form the Native National Congress in 1912 was supported by Kgosi Mokgalagadi Moisakgomo of Bangwaketse. These mean Batswana have been part of the formation of the ANC.
“The ANC is your party. The person who initiated the idea of the Freedom Charter is the son of Botswana. He made the proposal in the Cape Conference of the ANC. But because of the brutality of the Nationalist Party, he was not in Cape Town but he planted the seed of the idea on the Cape conference,” said Mantashe.
He explained that what should be appreciated more is that when the ANC decided to take up arms, the idea was formulated in Lobatse. You provided us with the most reliable route for our members hence your giving us the route made the Nationalist party to be aggressive and brutal in the Zeerust- Potchefstroom corridor, said Mantashe.
The ANC Secretary General thanked the BDP government for not having handed any of its members to the enemy. Explaining the relationship between BDP government and ANC, Mantashe stated that when ANC presented a very delicate request to President Seretse Khama verbally at an OAU Summit in Addis Ababa, Oliver Tambo was asked to put the request in writing.
He revealed that the request was indeed put in writing but the response was not. He indicated that in the verbal response it was stated that, “We have considered the request but we found it difficult to accede to it because we did not want the apartheid regime to justify its suspicion that we are militarily aiding the liberation movement”.
Mantashe said where Botswana’s strength is captured in the response is when they said ANC members will be allowed into Botswana if they would come quietly.
“The next request for facilitation of the military training venue the government said it had to weigh options. They said if apartheid regime learns that they have facilitated such a venue they would come here claiming to be looking for those groups”, he said.
Mantashe explained that Botswana Government presented an alternative plan, which was; if the ANC members could come to Botswana in a way that the government would not have seen them then the government would state that it never saw the ANC members passing through Botswana.
He said he had to explain this because “many people when we discuss role of the various liberation movements, they always get tempted to downplay the role of Botswana. Our view is that we have a duty to step up that role and explain to all and sundry how Botswana played its role including the formation of the Frontline States.
“So we are here to tell you that we are one and need to work closely together. When we are in trouble, it is you who are in trouble. If we have got problems it is your problems.”
Moses Ntwayagae joined BDP in 1977 at the age of 26 years at the same time when the party formed its Youth League.
In fact he was born into Domkrag because his parents were members of the party. He didn’t know anything about opposition parties. He was a staunch critic of opposition parties at the time and didn’t share any of their ideologies.
He says they built the BDP Youth League. At that time Domkrag was a party that taught a great deal. Here is his account:
We had seminars at which we were drilled on governance issues and party mobilisation and strategies. When I joined the party I became deputy chairperson of the Youth League.
Mma Mophuting was Chairperson of the Youth League when it was still only Gaborone constituency. There was no Gaborone South or Gaborone North at the time. I was elected into the committee and when its term ended I was elected deputy Chairperson for Laughter Kopi, who was Chairperson.
Later at a youth congress held in Selibe Phikwe it was decided that every region must have a Choir. I am the first person to form a Choir in Gaborone called Bontleng Choir. In 1980 there was a youth festival at Ditshupong, which was officiated by Lady Ruth Khama. Bontleng Choir represented Gaborone. At the same time we formed another Choir called International.
In 1980 after the choir festival Matlhabaphiri approached me and asked that we use Bontleng Choir as the basis for the Party Choir. It was formed in 1981 by GUS Matlhabaphiri, Grace Petersen and I as its first Chairperson. There was Mma Magapa, Mr. Suping and Mr. Mokgobelelo and Thabeng as well as Mme Josephine Mohutsiwa and many others of Bontleng Choir. Others didn’t join, but these are the founding members of International Choir. We composed songs and I conducted the Choir. I remember very well when Mozambique president Samora Machel came to officiate at the Trade Fair and we needed to compose a song for him, which task was given two others but could not deliver. Then Daniel Kwelagobe asked me at the last minute to compose the song and in to two days’ time I had composed the song and was teaching it to the Choir!
Then we went for Choir competitions but International was transformed into a Party Choir so that it did not compete. Bontleng competed for the first time in Serowe where it took position three in BDP Choir competitions. Then in 1986 it competed in Molepolole and I won the trophy.
From 1985 to 1994 we had participated in eight competitions out of which my Choir had won five. We competed as Branches at regional level then proceeded to Nationals. Music for me is a talent from God that I was born with. I can’t tell you how I came to be a musician. I am not educated, my mother and father were singers.
I joined Seventh Day Adventist Church where I met people like Batho Molema who were very inspirational. There was one gentleman by the name Dal Kote who once worked for Radio Botswana. He inspired me very much with his voice. I emulated and exceeded him! Rre Batho Molema and Chris Mpuang were my music teachers in the Church Choir. They used to make me sing in Staff Notations, that’s where I copied notes and eventually became a singer and conductor through observation. That is my journey at BDP Youth League.
The last Choir I conducted was in 1995 when I had relocated to Shoshong from Gaborone, after taking the Shoshong Constituency Choir when the constituency was still under Member of Parliament Modibedi Robi. It also competed with the other strong Choirs I had conducted before, but it still managed to win the cup in Selibe Phikwe.
The present day Donkrag
Today’s Domkrag pales in comparison to that of bo Rre Masire (the late Sir Ketumile Masire) and bo rre Peter Mmusi! Granted, change is constant, but I believe development must lead to righteousness and justice. However, when you check out the real situation, it is characterised by infighting and power struggles, which is not good for the party. In my analysis I still believe that the BDP did a very good job from 1965 until 1989, when things started sliding. I saw how things were not done properly in government. In 1989 I was nominated as a Councillor in Gaborone, my Chairperson was Paul Rantao. He loved me. But he belonged to opposition.I am stickler for procedure. I don’t necessarily blindly follow a person. For instance if the party constitution provides for procedure and you persuade me to go against it, I refuse.
In that Council, as you know as competing parties there is always disagreements. As a result I was caught right in the middle. At that time there were two Motions – one from then deputy Chairperson, Tshepo Motswagole (currently High Court Judge) for the opposition and another by Thuso Makgekgenene for the BDP. In my view both motions didn’t make the grade but were personal sentiments, which I didn’t agree with.
Motswagole’s motion was a personal attack on Matlhabaphiri. I didn’t agree with it and argued vehemently against it until he withdrew it, while Thuso’s was an attack on Rantao. I singlehandedly debated it and tore it apart. At that time I had gone for a year without being included into a single committee because I was considered arrogant. My partner in crime was Pelotelele Tlhaodi, but after those motions, I was selected into four committees!In 1995 I came to Shoshong at the request of Modibedi Robi who wanted me to help him with his campaign for primary elections and later national elections, which tasks I acquitted admirably as he went on to win both although at the time BDP was basically just riding on the crest of a rich wave. And then I was nominated into Central District Council. In 1999 I was asked by Kalamare people to come and represent them as their Councillor. I enjoyed my term as Councillor there for 10 years when I decided to leave in 2009 to pursue other commitments. I felt I had done my part after 20 years as Councillor. I don’t think politics is an inheritance it is service, that’s why I left. My track record speaks volumes there! The Trust and the Community Hall whose plan was modelled on the Selibe Phikwe plan are some of my legacies.I believe that at that time most senior party leaders in the likes of bo-rre Mmusi, Patrick Balopi, rre Kebatlamang Morake; David Magang, who I still remember vividly, Ronald Sebego and Michael Tshipinare had a great love for me. It seemed they had respect for me because of my musical background but also for my oratory skills. They used to invite me to address political rallies and sometimes to teach in seminars. That’s how I grew up in Domkrag. But at that time there was respect for fellow democrats, when there was difference of opinion between members it would be solved internally you didn’t hear the matter being addressed in freedom squares.
Yet factions existed at the time in BDP from as far back as 1991 when the late Moutlwakgola Nwako would challenge Mmusi in vain. Then rre Mompati Merafhe and Festus Mogae came in. I think the coming into the picture of these two men rattled Ponatshego Kedikilwe who eventually joined forces with Daniel Kwekagobe’s faction and they became very strong factions to contend with.
Yet these differences were not overly blown out of proportion like it happens currently. I don’t know. It may be because at that time there were no Facebook and Internet, but I know we were a generation that had respect for human dignity.
I used to differ with Matlhabaphiri but when it came to party work we put all those differences aside. There were factions like Nkate/Merafhe and Kedikilwe/Kwelagobe these caused differences and realignments, but there was respect for one another notwithstanding. I remember the 1993 BDP congress known as Kgola Disana which was an open forum to thrash out our differences that started at 8PM and ended at 5AM. It was just open debates with no insults, scuffles and fistfights.
When it ended we were a united party and went to elections. It was thought that Merafhe would win because he had been very vocal in debates during the night with an upper hand over Kwelagobe. But in the morning Kwelagobe worked his campaign magic and he won the election as secretary general while Mmusi won as Chairperson.
There was a repeat in 1995 in Mogoditshane when Kwelagobe won yet again. The 1997 congress was another hotly contested and it took another whole night of jostling and debating to resolve our differences so that in the morning we opted for compromise instead of elections by selecting from both factions to make the central committee.
BDP has a strong tradition of conflict resolution which surpasses all other political parties to this day. It knows how to avoid crisis, it would rather go for a retreat than plunge headlong into an intractable crisis. This was best shown in 2003 when Ian Khama and Kedikilwe contested for the chairmanship and President Mogae made a divisive statement whilst opening a Women’s Congress in Selieb Phikwe that Vice President was campaigning for the chairmanship of the party with his blessings!
Some members of Kedikilwe’s faction such as the late Gomolemo Motswaledi and Gilbert Mangole were very unhappy. After the Gantsi congress there was a retreat arranged at which Mogae apologised that he never meant Kedikilwe any harm but that he had to lend Khama support since he was the one that had handpicked him from the Botswana Defence Force! Even then he apologised. I also remember in 1989 when the late Edison Masisi at a congress in Zwenshambe moved for compromise requesting that (re beile botsetse) the incumbent committee should continue instead of voting that would have caused many divisions! Only after general elections would the election of the central committee resume.
In 1998 when the late President Sir Ketumile Masire stepped down, I was Councillor. We were worried that some of the infighting in the party that were threatening the stability of the party could soil his reputation as the country’s best president ever. In my opinion Masire remains the best president ever.
I left the BDP in 2010. I feel the party did very well, but that it should have stepped aside in 1989 to rejuvenate itself. In terms of development today, we are marking time instead of going further unlike in the past. By this time we should be in a position to make timber and planks for roofing and ceiling on our own; but if you look at the programmes that BDP is making they are intended to woo voters, there is no planning at all.
What needs to be done is to remove the BDP from power not through hatred but the ballot box. I don’t have hatred for BDP not by the slightest degree, I only wish for democracy that is accompanied by developments that will realise job creation to avert the high rate of crime that we are witnessing. BDP must step down.
I see lots of problems for the BDP. I don’t see anyone who can salvage it from this pit.
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.
‘BDP should find somebody else since I have lost interest in political office’
The Chairperson of Botswana National Sports Commission Solly Reikeletseng who was tipped to represent Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in Francistown South constituency in the next general election has informed this publication that he has lost interest in political office citing personal reasons.
Reikeletseng was recruited by BDP to help capture the constituency from Wynter Mmolotsi of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). Asked about this, Reikeletseng said that he is not afraid of the truth and disclosed that he was once approached by some BDP big guns to represent them in the 2019 general election.
“Seriously speaking when I was initially approached by some BDP bigwigs, I was seriously interested as I went on to accept the offer. I am one person who likes to tell the truth. I have reconsidered their offer and as things stand, I have lost interest in political office for now and BDP should find a better candidate to represent them in Francistown South. Concerning the 2019 general election, I am out of the race, but I cannot rule out the possibility of rejoining politics in the future,” he said.
When pressed to give reasons as to why he has suddenly decided to withdraw from the race before BDP’s primary elections, Reikeletseng declined to say anything save that his reasons are purely personal. He withdraws from Francistown South BDP Parliamentary race at a time when other candidates eyeing the constituency are engaged in vigorous unsanctioned campaigns to snatch the constituency from UDC.
The incumbent Mmolotsi representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under the UDC brought down Francistown City Mayor Sylvia Muzila with a thud in the past general election as he garnered 5261 votes against Muzila’s 3289. Botswana Congress Party (BCP) candidate Vain Mamela garnered 1511 votes.
With BCP in the UDC, it will certainly be a steep climb for the BDP candidate to wrestle the constituency, so it seems.