His Excellency the Former President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama notes with serious concern the allegations levelled against him in the Botswana Guardian newspaper of 15th March 2019 under the headline “Khama lied to SABC”.

The article is set on a tone of malicious intent whose purpose is to discredit Former President Khama, cast him in bad light as a liar who will stop at nothing to tarnish the image of this country. The writer accuses Former President Khama of being reckless and selfish. The article further casts aspersions of treason and sabotage on the part of the Former President. These very serious allegations are not to be taken lightly. By intentionally ignoring the basic facts on the ground since this is no longer a breaking story, one can tell from the article that the writer has an agenda.

His Excellency the Former President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama dismisses these allegations with the contempt they deserve. The allegations are preposterous and border on deformation of character. It is very disappointing to note that the Botswana Guardian did not bother to get the Former President’s side of the story. Basic tenants of journalism require that a story be balanced and both sides be afforded a chance to respond, unfortunately this is glaringly missing in this article. Former President Khama and none of his staff were ever contacted by your publication.

This was obviously a deliberate attempt to tarnish the good name of the Former President. Furthermore, the story lacks credibility as reinforced by the writer’s own admission that he or she did not speak to anyone from the DIS since Brigadier Peter Magosi was unreachable. Unfortunately the said officers have been charged by the Directorate of Intelligence Service.

It is common cause that due to the continued mistreatment and harassment of the Former President Khama by the current administration, his security detail and protocol was withdrawn and instructed not to accompany him on his trip to India for the 60th Tibet Uprising Celebrations. The Former President was never officially informed of the withdrawal but only heard it verbally from the affected officers. Apparently the officers received the instruction through telephone calls.

The Former President, having not received any communication in writing from the Directorate of Intelligence Service then proceeded with them on the trip. The constitution requires that the Former President be protected twenty four hours every day, furthermore he is entitled to four international trips and there are no conditions as to who and where he should visit. Had your esteemed writer bothered to enquire, this information would have been freely availed. 

Needless to say the article was a shoddy piece of someone’s fertile imagination, seasoned with personal disdain and intolerance of Former President Khama. This is further evidenced by the fact that in the entire article, there is not a single sentence addressing His Excellency the Former President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama with his full title. We live in a democratic country and it is acceptable to differ on opinions, however we need to do it respectfully.

The role of journalists is to report news in a fair and balanced manner, and this is all we ask from our media. Furthermore the article is clearly misplaced on the front page since it is an opinion piece, therefore should have been properly placed in the opinion section.  It is very important that the press remain impartial in their reporting regardless of political persuasion. The Botswana Guardian lied about the Former President Khama, this is unprofessional and unethical.
His Excellency the Former President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama

Published in News
Tuesday, 26 March 2019 15:57

Khama feels betrayed

Former president, Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama said the current head of state betrayed his trust as he thought he chose the future president of this country who was very intelligent and an expert in governance.

He expressed the concern in an interview with this publication after a caucus meeting with BDP councillors in Serowe on Thursday at Central District Council Chambers, where he was accompanied by Presidential candidate, Dr. Pelonomi  Venson Moitoi.  He described Masisi’s administration as dictatorship which undermined the rule of law for personal benefit. 

He warned that if Batswana are not vigilant the country will plunge into turmoil like it is in other countries. Khama says nowadays Batswana are living in fear and are no longer free because of the Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS). The feud between Masisi and his predecessor which is believed to be breaking BDP apart, Khama says, is fueled by Mpho Balopi’s (BDP secretary general) leadership who is favouring one candidate over the other.

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The country’s long time rulling party, Botswana Democratic Party is expected to win the upcoming general elections albeit without an outright majority. This is according to a fresh report coming from Africa’s leading bank by assets, Standard Bank.

The report, which covers politics and economics of countries where the banking group has operations such as Botswana, was made public last week.  BDP, which has ruled the landlocked country since independence more than 50 years ago, is likely to enter the general elections a highly divided lot.  This is largely due to the standoff between President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor, Dr Ian Khama. A former army commander, Khama is backing Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi for the BDP Presidency ahead of the party’s elective congress expected in July.

“Despite the dispute between Ian Khama and Masisi, we still expect BDP to win the general elections in October 19, though perhaps not by an outright majority. “Chances of the UDC (Umbrella for Democratic Change) coalition strengthening before the 2019 general elections are slim, not while tensions about the constituencies persist,” said the report titled African Markets Revealed.  BDP won 37 of the total 57 constituencies in the last general elections held in October 2014. Following the results of the 2014 general election the BDP leadership was concerned by its declining popular vote as the party only managed 47 per cent of the popular vote, the party’s weakest performance since 1966.

The report further noted that, ‘lack of cooperation between the main opposition parties may provide some safe haven for the ruling party’. ‘Hence, if UDC coalition was to unite amid BDP weakness, it may lead to the ruling party losing the general election to UDC’. However, it appears the opposition parties are also divided post the 2014 general election where they made inroads into BDP constituencies. Botswana Guardian last month reported that Alliance for Progressives, a splinter party from Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), has outrightly rejected advances from UDC to join them ahead of the highly anticipated elections.  

AP is led by Ndaba Gaolathe, son to former finance minister, Baledzi Gaolathe, who was a BDP member. Previously, there were reports that BDP is courting Gaolathe junior. Meanwhile, Standard Bank which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange has made it clear the current political turbulence as impermanent.  “We view the current political turmoil as temporary; we expect no significant deviation from the current economic policy, even if the BDP lost the election,” said the report in part.

Published in News
Wednesday, 20 February 2019 15:24

Women politicians in Africa face huge odds

Women are gaining ground in politics around the world. Last year, the so-called “pink wave” saw a record number of women elected to Congress in the US’s mid-term elections. There are signs of progress in Africa, too.

Last October, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was praised for his “transformative leadership” after appointing a new set of ministers – half of whom were women. Earlier in February, Egyptian lawmakers proposed amending the constitution to guarantee women 25 percent of the seats in the national parliament. If it’s approved, this change will significantly increase the political representation of Egyptian women. At present they make up just 15 percent of the legislature.

There’s a huge amount of variation in women’s political representation across Africa, a fact shown by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women’s map of Women in Politics. In some countries, including Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, they make up a substantial portion of the legislature. However, women remain poorly represented in many others.

Doubtful intentions
Some question whether the increased political representation of women is necessarily a good thing, particularly in the context of Africa. They argue that it’s not entirely coincidental that many of the countries making the greatest progress in including women in politics are making far less progress in terms of democracy.

As others have argued, high profile efforts to promote women’s rights can help authoritarian leaders to present themselves as modernisers. This, they hope, will attract the interest of both investors and lenders.  Including more women in positions of power can also be useful domestically. It allows leaders with authoritarian leanings, or dubious democratic credentials, to expand their support base and bolster political stability. The recent reforms in both Ethiopia and Egypt could well be the product of such strategies, rather than a genuine commitment to promoting gender equality.  Does this mean that there’s nothing to be gained by including more women in politics? There may be no guarantee it promotes democracy. But there are reasons to believe it might pay off in terms of development.

Impact on development
It’s often said that opening up positions of political power to women will lead to development policies that are more effective and better implemented. Now, we’re starting to see evidence that this is in fact the case.
For example, several recent studies show that improving the representation of women in parliament has a positive impact on the health sector. Political scientists Amanda Clayton and Pär Zetterberg have shown that “quota shocks” – large increases in women’s parliamentary representation after the introduction of a gender quota – tend to be followed by rises in government spending on public health.
Other researchers have shown that an increase in the number of women in parliament is associated with a variety of positive health outcomes. These include improvement  in women’s life expectancy and reductions in both maternal and infant mortality. These positive impacts are notable, and make sense. There’s plenty of debate about exactly what constitutes a “women’s issue”, but there’s good reason to put health in that category. Surveys from sub-Saharan Africa show that both women citizens, and women parliamentarians, are more likely to identify health as a priority issue than their male counterparts.
Moreover, this “gender gap” in priorities is greater between male and female legislators than between male and female citizens. In short, if expanding the political representation of women is to have an effect anywhere, it ought to be in the health sector (and, of course, in women’s rights).

Lingering questions
There is, however, some bad news. It’s still not clear exactly how these positive impacts on development come about. In the case of research showing the link between “quota shocks” and health spending, for instance, there is a correlation – but claims about causal effects remain questionable.

New research is desperately needed that untangles exactly how women in politics make a difference. This is important to help justify the continuing campaign to increase women’s political representation around the world. It will also allow international donors to help women in politics make a positive difference. It’s hard to help someone achieve their goals if you don’t understand the tactics they have at their disposal. With this in mind, an ongoing collaboration between the University of Birmingham and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy – supported by the Institute for Global Innovation – has started to ask some important questions about women in African parliaments. These include whether women in parliament have an impact even where they lack “critical mass” and, if so, what strategies and tactics they employ to overcome their lack of numbers.

Our ongoing research suggests that parliamentary institutions – including parliamentary committees and women’s caucuses – play an important role in helping female politicians in Africa to shape development outcomes. At the moment, we’re looking into how women in Malawi used these institutions to push for some important changes to the HIV and AIDS Act.  Generating the knowledge needed will require a lot more research, including research by experts within Africa. Some of this knowledge already exists within the region. Putting African experts at the forefront of new research will help the international community to develop programmes that go beyond “just adding women” to politics. It will also help female politicians in Africa to make a difference against the odds  (The Conversation)

Published in News
Monday, 10 December 2018 16:26

Masisi’s ‘Camp Dubai’ crumbles

As the year is coming to an end, so does the Botswana Democratic Party’s rich ‘Camp Dubai’ faction which is reaching a total fallout, Botswana Guardian has established. Camp Dubai which made history last year during Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) elective congress in Tonota as the most financed, with robust campaigns and strategies, has now reached its sell by date. Key figures in the camp include President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, Secretary General Mpho Balopi, Member of Parliament for Tati East Samson Guma, Specially Elected Councillor and BDP Sub-committee on Communications and International Relations Secretary Roseline Panzirah-Matshome.

Once a force to reckon with, relations soured for the camp after the Tonota congress but things have now escalated. According to information reaching this publication the key figures do not see eye to eye and have been doing everything possible to pin each other down.At the centre of the controversy is power and the need to be close to President Dr Masisi. It is alleged that members have resorted to underhand tactics against each other to be close and trusted ally of Dr Masisi since he became president.

Sources have revealed that preparations for next year’s congress have also come to play as the Camp Dubai players are vying for positions in the central committee. Guma has since indicated that he would be contesting against Balopi for the position of Secretary General while Panzirah-Matshome wants to be Deputy Secretary General. It is not yet clear if current Deputy Secretary General also Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi will defend his seat. Guma was recently denied an opportunity to address a strategic meeting in Kgalagadi region which was abruptly cancelled. Balopi was blamed for the cancellation. He however distanced himself from such developments. Fresh information has revealed that Panzirah-Matshome is being cajoled into not contesting.

Panzirah-Matshome was the top key player in Camp Dubai since the 2015 Mmadinare congress that ushered in Dr Masisi as party chairman. Dr Masisi came into the race at the last minute. It is alleged that if she contests some of the Camp Dubai members might bite the dust as the person who played a role is seeking funding and strategising would now be occupied with contesting for office. Her support for Guma’s bid for Secretary General of the party is said to have also worsened her relationship with Balopi- the man whom she has been working closely with while Dr. Masisi was still BDP Chairman and with whom they ensured that Camp Dubai flourish.

This is said to have sparked a serious tiff between her and Balopi. She is said to be accusing Balopi of sending people to attack her during party gatherings and in some of the party’s social media groups. The duo is said to have long been at loggerheads since Dr. Masisi ascended to the presidency. Impeccable sources have revealed that during the BDP Women’s Wing Conference that was held at Mogoditshane Senior Secondary School this past weekend Dr. Masisi promised to support Panzirah-Matshome.
“The President and the VP had promised her their support. However, what is confusing is that the promise seems not to be genuine. We need women also in the Executive Committee of our Central Committee which is why as women we stand by her. These men within the BDP do not want us to rise they want us to do the dirty work for them,” said a member of the women’s wing committee. The source further revealed that the president later met Panzirah-Matshome for a meeting with the aim of convincing her to make peace with Balopi and others.

Botswana Guardian is in possession of some communications in a BDP WhatsApp Group called Road to 2019 and another called BDP National Youth Wing 2017-2019 where there is an exchange of words between Panzirah-Matshome and other members of the groups. In the groups she is accused of being behind the creation of New Jerusalem Faction and dividing the party. Since the Tonota Congress Camp Dubai has never met for evaluation as agreed, Botswana Guardian can confirm. The camp also failed to host an appreciation party for their members as per the agreement. Some of the members who were in the campaign team still owe P100 000.00 which was pledged as a commitment towards the campaign.

Contacted for comment Panzirah-Matshome confirmed that all is not well between her and Balopi. She also stated that she is aware that Balopi has sent some people within the BDP to attack her. “I know the communication you are talking about. Those young boys who are busy insulting me are associated with Balopi and everyone knows that. But I am not going to crack, you should tell them so. I am contesting and I am not moved come rain or whatever. “I have worked so hard for other people and it is time I prove that even women can lead and we want our male counterparts to appreciate that,” she said. Regarding the support from President and Vice President and their meeting, Panzirah-Matshome said as a member of the Central Committee she would meet from time to time with the leadership of the party and “it is not anything new and something worth sharing with the media.”

For his part Balopi said he is not going to be involved in petty talks. He wondered why he would tell people to attack Panzirah-Matshome. “She should tell you what her problem is. I am not going to lower my stature and integrity to discuss such issues. As the BDP we have structures that deal with issues of concern.“I am not even in those social media platforms. I am bigger than that and I represent a bigger political organisation in the country. I am not for petty talk because I am not petty,” said Balopi. He pointed out that he has been attacked on several occasions about things he knows nothing about and has decided to keep quiet. The secretary general said he would not be drawn into discussing matters with the media while there are proper internal channels that can be used.

Published in News
Tuesday, 04 December 2018 15:55

BDP Elders unshakeable on Khama/Masisi feud

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) National Elders Committee has not yet given up on its efforts to unite President Dr.  Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor President Dr. Ian Khama.The two leaders who were once close allies are now not seeing eye to eye since Dr. Khama’s term came to an end and Dr. Masisi assumed the high office in April this year. While the tension has been dismissed for a while beginning this month the duo has admitted that they don’t enjoy a rosy relation.

The BDP elders who have been roped in to bring peace and unite the duo have failed in their attempts. President Masisi used his maiden State of the Nation Address to publicly inform the nation that the transition from the previous administration has not been as smooth as expected.

“However, it ought to be noted, I have in my attempt to smoothen the process engaged senior citizens namely; Dr. Festus Mogae, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, Ray Molomo, Patrick Balopi and David Magang to assist and lead in smoothening the transition. I regret to announce that their efforts have not borne fruit up to this point,” Masisi said early this month. In an interview with Botswana Guardian this week, Balopi explained that their assignment is a work in progress. He revealed that they have not yet given up on their leaders and they remain hopeful that a long-lasting solution would be reached. He pointed out that at the moment details cannot be shared with the media because the issue has to be treated with the sensitivity it deserves.

“This is a sensitive matter and we have to treat it as such. We have been given this assignment and we cannot share it with third parties. Our elders will share everything when they are ready and feel they can share with the public. As for us we are just executing our assignment as per the request by our two presidents,” he said.

It has since emerged through newspaper reports that the duo had an agreement which Dr. Masisi did not fulfil. It was reported that Dr. Masisi would appoint Minister of Environment Wildlife and Tourism Tshekedi Khama Vice President once he had ascended to the presidency. Tshekedi Khama is the younger brother to the former President.

President Masisi has indicated that in the true tradition of Botswana, the mediation done by the elders should be managed, for the benefit of everyone. Khama then hit back at Masisi indicating that it is regrettable that the statement given on the occasion of the SONA about the situation concerning him and Masisi reflected only on one side without consultation with the other in order to give the nation a balanced perspective of progress on reconciliation or the lack of it.

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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.

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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.

Published in News
Monday, 23 July 2018 11:15

New UDC constitution on trial

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.

Published in News
Tuesday, 10 July 2018 16:48

Masisi takes us for granted – BOFEPUSU

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.

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