The lawyer representing Motlhaleemang Moalosi in   the Sebina phone hacking case has torn evidence presented by a police forensic expert to shreds.

Moalosi is accused of hacking into Assistant Minister of Education and skills development, Fidelis Molao’s Facebook account. The alleged hacking associated the junior minister with a raging scandal in which ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councilor for Sebina Kemmonye Amon impregnated a 16-year-old schoolgirl.

Moalosi, an activist for the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has since filed an application with the High court demanding his laptop that has since been confiscated by the police as evidence. During a court appearance on Thursday, Moalosi’s lawyer Owen Nsala dismissed the evidence presented before court by police forensic expert Nonofo Dichabe after the witness (Dichabe) linked Moalosi to the scandalous hacking incident.


As part of his submissions before Francistown High Court Judge, Barnabas Nyamadzabo, Nsala said that Dichabe failed to attach his qualification or certification to convince the court that he is a competent expert and credible witness. “If he was so qualified, he could have annexed his qualifications and demonstrate to the court that he is indeed a credible witness,” Nsala argued. “Dichabe does not give court confidence that he is qualified to use and operate the data forensic equipment, which he claims to have used in linking the applicant to the hacking incident.”

Nsala further argued that while the witness claims the conversation was created and accessed in the laptop, there was evidence before court that the purported Facebook conversation was sent from a mobile phone. Detective Senior Superintendent Sergeant Marapo is cited as the first respondent while the second respondent is the Attorney General in the matter. Judgment is expected on 29th July.

Published in News
Tuesday, 14 June 2016 19:01

’Arone joining BDP for the money’

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.

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Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader, Duma Boko, has attacked the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) led government of President Ian Khama accusing it of breeding future suicide bombers and extremists.

He was addressing a rally in Francistown recently. Boko complained that Khama’s “hallucinations of seeing every youth as a herdsman and Ipelegeng worker” does not go down well with most of the youth who know the truth about the type of leadership this country has. Boko added that suicide bombers and extremists are people who are usually tired of a government which does not care about the wellbeing and rights of its citizens and in the process lose hope and resort to terrorism as the only answer to their woes. He added that the current government should take care of the youth and regard them as the future torchbearers of this country.

“The founder of the Botswana National Front Dr Kenneth Koma once said that if children are not given proper education, they normally turn out to be problem children. Problem children are involved in worst case scenarios. The current education system is in shambles and thousands of youths are roaming the streets due to joblessness experienced by Botswana. I beg to differ with Ndaba Gaolathe who said that Botswana is a nation forgotten by its leaders. The leadership of this country is rude as it opts to deliberately forget what matters most to the lives of Batswana,” Boko said.

He attributed government’s indifference to lack of education amongst leaders of the ruling BDP starting with the first citizen whose educational background he said, is shrouded in mystery as to where and with whom he attended school. Boko said that if Botswana had an educational yard stick to select leadership like in countries like Zambia, most of the current leaders of BDP would not have qualified since most of them lack education. Botswana Congress Party stalwart Kentse Rammidi did not hide his displeasure at the way the government is misusing funds through “ridiculous initiatives”.

He told crowds at the launch of UDC council candidate for Phillip Matante East by-election Uyapo Nyeku that BDP is squandering money like the exposed past FIFA executive. “Kwa ga domkrag madi a jiwa jaaka ko FIFA mme mmang le mmang wa bone yo o a jeleng was go a busa (At BDP there is rampant monetary corruption scandals comparable to the past FIFA office bearers most of whom found themselves behind bars and facing the legal music),” Rammidi said. Former Member of Parliament Vain Mamela lashed out that the ‘rot’ at Botswana Railways where the newly introduced BR Express experienced mechanical hiccups during its maiden trip to Francistown, was indicative of the rot consuming the whole country.

Mamela dismissed Minister Tshenolo Mabeo as an actor who is only good at drama. “Mabeo is famous for acting in prominent local dramas including Thokolosi in which he became an instant hit. As for the new train, he has taken drama to the extreme by compromising a service which is dear to the hearts of most citizens. P280 million was used to purchase the new train and this is not a joke but they allegedly went on to buy a second hand train which is a clear sign that the Khama led government is taking Batswana for granted,” Mamela said.

He added that everything has collapsed in the country except for Ipelegeng and Chibuku. He accused BDP members for being cowards as they let Khama do as he pleases without any one of them lifting a finger to condemn the poor initiatives which include a lot of Ds. “A ‘D’ is not an appropriate letter as it signifies disaster”.

Published in Northren Extra
Wednesday, 11 November 2015 14:28

Sidney Pilane: How to Join BMD or Die Trying

FACT: MELS is by far the most stable political organisation in the country. You have never heard of factional fighting, defections, back-biting or any form of disgruntlement towards Themba Joina’s life-time Presidency.

If for any reason you think this is an inverted mockery of Joina and his followers count yourself an ardent denialist. MELS is as intact as the day it was formed. By the way, you will learn that according to all known theories of political science, there is no way MELS should exist. Its diminutive political base and near-religious Marxist dogma should render it politically obsolete. But MELS exists anyway; it does not care what theorists say about it. What more do you want? History is a witness that there is yet to be a party to rival MELS’ ‘happily-ever-after’ political existence.

The ongoing internal wrangling in the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) is a further testimony to this. As to whether these fights are just a passing phase for a Movement that carries so much political hopes of many Batswana is yet to be seen. But as to how the whole saga is unfolding, leaves a lot to be desired.

Pardon my curiosity, but how can a person of Sidney Pilane’s stature relentlessly pursue to join a political party where clearly his services and membership is unwelcome? Absurd! What has happened to pride? Even if it were a no-name like me, I would not have gone through all that ridicule just for that card. I mean, for God’s sake, that membership card cannot get one a discount even from a street-vendor. It is as ‘good’ as that of MELS, assuming Mr. Pilane has personal preference for opposition politics.

However, his relentless effort to be in the BMD membership roll would have even prompted US gangster rapper 50 Cent to title his award-winning album, ‘Join BMD or Die Trying.’ All I am saying is Mr. Pilane’s ‘struggle’ to join BMD just defies common understanding of logic. It baffles to say the least. I take it that if ‘Long Walk to BMD’ entailed this intensive labour, even Nelson Mandela would have quit. I do not know how much that membership card would be worth in the future, but whatever the price, I do not think it is worth undermining the selfless legacy of Mr. Gomolemo Motswaledi. But power or the desire thereof has proven to be hallucinogenic. Anyway, treat my comments with caution, bear in mind that I am politically naïve.
Although factions and internal party coups are not alien to political setups as we saw with ANC’s recalling President Thabo Mbeki, the way some people are trying to do it at BMD is crude if not rudimentary. 

I do not see how membership of one individual, no matter how important that person may be, can be allowed to reverse all the political capital that BMD has already accrued. But that seems to be the argument of those who are adamant on the registration of Mr. Pilane. I wonder why they have never put the same fight for other people who had wanted to join BMD but were declined membership. If indeed they stand for any particular principle, nor matter how politically flawed the principle may be, they need to apply it without bias. Having said that, people must learn to apply their arguments or set of ideals without lying.

The undeniable truth is, Mr. Ndaba Gaolatlhe like Motswaledi have been selfless in seeing BMD mature into a political outfit that it is today. Now, to come around and try to character-assassinate a person whose leadership qualities are acknowledged and adored even by his political rivals, leaves a lot to be desired about you than him. I am not saying Ndaba is perfect, but I am saying in our frantic pursuance of hidden agenda, let us not hide behind lies. Truth is absolute. In case you are wondering if I have taken side on this issue, the answer is a big ‘yes.’ I stand for nothing else but the truth. Even if confronted with the possibility of going to Hell for this stance, I would ask where the gate is. We must learn to defend the truth, no matter who speaks it.
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Former mayor of Francistown and current specially-elected councillor Peter Ngoma has staked a claim in Zwenshambe chieftainship following the recently passed judgment which nullified the decision by former Minister of local government Margaret Nasha to pick the Chabale family as the rightful heirs.

Although villagers in Zwenshambe have vowed to support Moses Mabutho, who, until the High Court judgement recently, was the village Kgosi, Ngoma has informed Northern Extra in an exclusive interview that he is the rightful Kgosi of Zwenshambe. He said that in 1979, his forefathers were tricked into handing over the Bogosi baton to Masilo Ngubalane. According to him, Chabale was tricked to give way to Ngubalane after being told that, for one to be a chief, one has to know how to read and write. Ngoma says that the patriarch of the clan relinquished the chieftainship to Ngubalane with the hope that when the time comes, he will give way in favour of someone from the Chabale family.

Ngoma said that the decision to trick his forefathers to temporarily relinquish power to Ngubalane was fueled by greed as those who initiated it knew very well that the government was about to pay all chiefs in the country a salary hence they applied dirty tricks to deprive them of their rightful inheritance. “When Masilo retired in 2007, I was the next to be the chief, but I declined and instead temporarily handed over to Mabutho who was by then employed by Botswana Meat Commission. I made it known to the concerned villagers and family members who had wanted me to take it from there that I was still a politician and will take over the throne when the right time comes,” he explained.

When quizzed about the current court order which disqualified the Chabale family from the Bogosi , he said that a majority of Zwenshambe villagers are behind the Chabale family as they know them from time immemorial to be the rightful claimants to the contested chieftainship. He said that they have appealed the recent decision of the High Court as it leaves a lot to be desired.

Ngoma is confident that the Chabale family will emerge victorious. “The good part about the judgment is that it has also given villagers a chance to elect their leader at a Kgotla meeting, something he believes many supportive villagers will use to put the Chabales back into power as shown by continued support for the family in the matter, he said.

Published in Northren Extra

He came, he saw, he conquered! That is how best to capture Botsalo Ntuane’s political fortunes after his inglorious return to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). After pulling the ‘prodigal son’ stunt which was mostly informed by his perilous view of the future of Botswana’s opposition politics, he has now reincarnated as the centre of political power in the BDP.

As things stand, he is more than just a Secretary General. He comes across as the embodiment of everything BDP. He is by far the last man standing in fierce defence of the BDP even if at times it borders on pathological proportions. His political visibility and activism is by far comparable to none in the BDP. It even overshadows that of his party President and Chairman respectively. As a result of this political ‘hyper-activeness,’ Ntuane has accrued substantial political capital that makes him a political asset to the BDP. But can this prodigal son come to be the messiah of the BDP going into 2019, or like many before, is he going to end up a pariah? Ntuane is an orator and writer par excellence. His linguistic spins and acrobatics can only be equalled by that of Squealer, who was credited with his rare ability of painting paradise out of hell in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

It therefore, does not come as a surprise that his reformist agenda is resonating with many party followers and earning him almost a messianic status.  This is so because his open calls for reform is not only alien to the BDP culture but it is a somehow revolutionary.  His reformist agenda appears to be a breath of fresh ideas in a tense and desperate political situation. In this context, Ntuane’s political reforms come not only as political prescription for a bedridden patient but also as a survival manual for the BDP. Although the 22 reform points are creatively written, nevertheless like the Communist Manifesto, they raise more questions than answers, particularly on two key issues; applicability and intention.

That is, to what extent are these reforms applicable in assisting the BDP retain power in 2019 and beyond? Let us take for example his proposition on party-government relations where he calls for the party to “reclaim its authority over government. The party must lead government and not be subordinate as is the case presently.” Although this Chinese Communist Party inspired model of government-party relations sounds ideal, it must be understood that the bureaucratic and internal processes of Tsholetsa House and those of government are wide apart. Unlike the party, the government is an all-inclusive macro-structure that caters for wide and diverse interests therefore, to suggest that a political party must be elevated over government is a recipe for disaster to say the least.
What Ntuane is suggesting is not entirely new, Saddam Hussein tried it with his Ba’ath Party and ended up dragging Iraq in a vicious circle of violence. I therefore, do not see how this proposed model can be practical and applicable in our political bureaucracy without risking isolating other key stakeholders such as opposition parties and non-state actors.

The other issue is to critically look at the intended objectives of the reforms. Firstly, let us be reminded that politicians are not like philanthropists. They do not run charities. There is always an expected return in one way or the other which is perfectly normal. My point, what does Ntuane expect in the post-reform political dispensation, I doubt he would want to come up with reforms and stand aside as they are implemented. It is perfectly normal that he would want to be in the thick and thin of things to ensure they are implemented as he envisioned them. Power! Secondly, it would be insufficient and unfair to analyse Ntuane’s agenda outside the context of BDP’s well-known group dynamics and group interests. Factionalism! The question that should be bothering his internal political adversaries should be, where is Daniel Kwelagobe (DK) in all this? But that is up to the BDP to decide whether Ntuane is, their political messiah or pariah.     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Botswana’s construction industry which is set to be among the biggest beneficiaries of the recently announced President Ian Khama’s Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) has welcomed the programme with reservation.

The package was unveiled at the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Special Congress held in Gaborone this past Saturday. Khama has indicated that the programme will commence during the current financial year and would be carried forward. The aim of the project according to him is to accelerate job creation, economy stimulation and economic diversification. Khama told delegates at the special congress that areas of focus will be building construction, roads construction, tourism development, increase agricultural production and manufacturing. He said the country will also tap on its foreign reserves. Currently Botswana has P87, 8 billion in foreign reserves.

Citizen Contractors Association, which represents 100 or so citizen-owned construction companies from Grade OC to Grade C, has expressed concern over the programme especially its implementation and monitoring. Under the revised procurement rules that effected on 12 December 2014, citizen contractors enjoy reservation to tender exclusively under Grades OC whose threshold is P1, 5 million; Grade A at P3 million and Grade B at P7, 2 million. Grade C attracts P12 million. Citizen contractors can also try their luck under Grade D which has a threshold minimum of P30 million and a maximum of P85 million. The Association’s Chairman, Michael Moji told Botswana Guardian that government has poor implementation mechanism adding that what Khama said on Saturday is pleasing but the problem is implementation. Moji bemoaned that government has a tendency of making promises it never fulfils. “If it could be implemented and be monitored properly then Batswana may be taken out of poverty, especially if you look at the construction industry, which will be among the major beneficiaries.

Our industry does not only benefit contractors and their employees but even other sectors. But our problem is how government deals with this industry which is even prone to corruption”, explained Moji. He expressed disappointment at Khama’s failure to touch on the wages of construction employees which he said are low and that the welfare of employees in the industry is always ignored. “The government should say something about the wages for our people as the reviewer and implementer of this sector’s wages. Another thing there should be a plan of how these jobs will be sustainable because everyone knows for a fact that construction jobs are not sustainable. You hire people for the duration of a project and part ways if you do not have anything lined up. So they should not talk about this as if they will be creating permanent jobs,” he noted, further adding,   “It will only be short lived because there are also elements of corruption and some people might win projects just once, so where will your employees go afterwards?” queried Moji.

Khama on the other hand said building construction is an engine of growth for many economies the world over. The focus, he said, would not be building big projects. “We will be spreading construction projects around the country. There will be construction in every district”, he said adding that Batswana construction companies will benefit in the building of classrooms and teachers’ quarters as well as clinics upgrading and nurses’ quarters. The president said there will be additional funds for maintenance because “We do not want to just build and not maintain old buildings. There will be major construction in all corners of the country. This will boost the construction industry in the country. As for roads construction I do not have to dwell much on it because it is straight forward. We will however not be constructing long stretching roads but rather alternative roads with the aim of reducing construction”, Khama said.

Moji however feels that Batswana companies should be equipped on financial management so that they could create sustainable jobs. He challenged government to come up with programmes that will empower Batswana contractors on financial sustainability so that they can create sustainable jobs. “But I am afraid because this government is the one that just talks and not execute. The other fear that we have is the platform where this worthwhile programme was announced. We challenge the president to do such things in public places like in Parliament where we can hold him and his government accountable. This might not be binding on him because he did not say it at a place where we could hold him accountable at a later stage if he fails to fulfil the promises”.

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The newly introduced Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) has aroused mixed reactions across various sectors regarding its importance for the economy of this country.

President Ian Khama unveiled the ambitious programme at the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Special Congress last week Saturday in Gaborone as the remedy for job creation, economy stimulation and economic diversification. Khama told the delegates that this is the right time to start new projects on top of others because the economy has improved. Areas of focus will be building construction, roads construction, tourism development, increased agricultural production and manufacturing. He said the country will also tap on its foreign reserves, which are currently estimated at around P87.8 billion.

“In 2008 we managed to fight recession and emerged successful to sustain our economy while other countries failed. If we cut projects now, the economy will stagnate. We have now built up sufficient reserves. The time has come now when we have problems to use our reserves. We have to be bold and take bold decisions. We however are not going to be reckless, we will be prudent”, he stated. He said diamond sales and their prices were very pleasing. The president explained that for the past six years there have been talks about recession. “We couldn’t continue spending money as if our reserves will last forever. So this year after the 2014 general election I together with my cabinet started working on the ESP. The economy has been fattened a little bit so we are Ok.”
Unpacking the ESP Khama said building construction is an engine of growth for many economies the world over.

The focus he said would not be building big projects. “We will be spreading construction projects around the country. There will be construction in every district”, he said adding that Batswana construction companies will benefit in the building of classrooms and teachers’ quarters as well as clinics upgrading and nurses’ quarters. Khama said there will be additional funds for maintenance, because “We do not want to just build and not maintain old buildings. There will be major construction in all corners of the country. This will boost the construction industry in the country.” As for roads construction, he said: “We will however not be constructing long stretching roads but rather alternative roads with the aim of reducing construction.” Under tourism the president said the aim is to broaden the tourism base.

He said those include wildlife management areas, dam tourism and communities forming trusts to undertake tourism in their areas. He revealed that the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism will be equipped to roll out the initiative around the country with emphasis on improving domestic tourism. On increasing agricultural production, Khama said there will be additional projects to improve and accelerate food production, horticulture projects and markets, and beef beneficiation. He said local produce will be bought from small farmers and commercial ones. He said this will also open doors for possible export. The president said government institutions like schools, prisons, police and Botswana Defence Force spend almost P800 million on feeding schemes. He emphasised that government will put in place technology to use limited water the country has, by recycling used water. On manufacturing Khama said the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) would be emphasised.

“There will be a unit to monitor implementation of EDD of about 35 people. Uniforms for all government institutions and even the private sector will have to be bought here. The manufacturing industry will also be empowered so that there is potential for exporting,” said Khama. He said there will be accelerated land servicing by the Lands and Housing ministry. Under this, Khama said more money will be availed for close to 37 000 plots to be serviced. “There are residential, industrial and commercial plots that will be serviced. If we have commercial and industrial plots Batswana will start businesses and employ others. There will be more industries and business that will boost our economy,” he said adding that these past months the cabinet has been working on this programme. “We are left with final touches that we will finish in the few coming weeks,” Khama told the congress.

“We see that this year commodities’ prices all over the world have gone down again including diamonds. Economy this year was projected to grow at 4.5 percent but because of poor performance of diamond sales and other commodities in the market we are now projecting a growth of 2.6 percent. Projected surplus was around P1.2billon. Now we are projecting a deficit of over P4 billion and next year another deficit is projected. We also have water and power problems. We are looking for money to arrest water and power situation not forgetting drought.”

Published in News
Monday, 12 October 2015 16:12

Domkrag on panic

The much anticipated opposition cooperation talks expected to start next year have caused panic within the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) camp to the extent that some  in the party leadership want it to be an agenda item in today’s (Friday) Special Congress, Botswana Guardian can reveal.

According to sources, the ruling  party is  worried that any cooperation between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) will dent its chances of retaining power in 2019 thus “something has to be done” to destabilise the cooperation between the two main opposition parties. The Special Congress comes as a result of a resolution that was taken during the party’s elective congress in Mmadinare early this year. Its purpose, according to the party leadership, is to discuss pending issues that were not dealt with at the Mmadinare congress.

However BDP insiders have revealed to this publication that the issue (cooperation between BCP and UDC) which is not on the congress programme will be raised from the floor. “The party leadership feels it has to be discussed especially how we are going to counter it as the party. The long and short of the matter is that should the cooperation be a success, our prospects of losing power are high”, said a prominent party insider. BCP and UDC have proclaimed their willingness and readiness to engage in unity talks. The talks were expected to start after the Boswelatlou by-election which was held this past weekend in Lobatse but UDC President Duma Boko has however said that his party will only be available for the negotiations next year. He said the party leadership is currently held up in other engagements. The two parties have already entered into an agreement on cooperation on by-elections until 2019.

The plan by BDP to frustrate the cooperation allegedly started when the party went on a recruitment drive to cripple the BCP by recruiting its members. The aim, according to sources was to destabilise the BCP so that the UDC would not find any use of uniting with a party that is already falling apart. The plan now is for the BDP to come up with another tactic and this time  more robust which could even mean setting up a taskforce team that will solely deal with the matter and report to the party Central Committee. It is not yet clear what mode of counter-intelligence the ruling party will resolve on at the end of the special congress on Saturday should the matter be dealt with.

When addressing a press conference in Gaborone on August 21, 2015, when the BCP was surrounded by controversy over the suspension of some of its members, Boko advised BCP members to deal with their issues rather than opting to join the UDC. He was responding to questions on whether it is true that his party is declining to admit disgruntled BCP members who wanted to join the UDC. BCP President Dumelang Saleshando on the other hand last month indicated that those members who have quit the party have started returning to the party and those who threatened to leave have now gone back on their decisions.

A BDP Member of Parliament who did not want to be named revealed that the party leadership, especially MPs, have put pressure on the party to have the matter prioritised. “If all goes well the issue will have to be first discussed during the consultative meeting with the President on Friday morning prior to the congress. It is a critical matter because given our performance during the 2014 general election, some of us our constituencies are at risk. We need to know what remedy do we have to counter this because believe you me if the opposition forges ahead and we are not prepared, we might as well kiss power goodbye”, said the MP.BDP Chairman for Communications and International Relations Sub Committee, Thapelo Pabalinga said that the Special Congress is intended to allow democrats more time to discuss a variety of issues pertinent to their party and also the republic. ‘As such, we cannot say opposition cooperation will be or will not be discussed. If our structures raise the issue it will be discussed, and if they raise it there is absolutely nothing amiss about that since we operate in a political environment with competitors whom we obviously must review from time to time,’ he explained.

‘We cannot at this point in time know whether it will be raised, how and by whom. At our official gatherings we do not have a record of it being pointed out. But it may have been raised informally by democrats in their routine exchanges, and they are at full liberty to raise such an issue among themselves as they do any other issue that affects party and country. One must fully appreciate that we are a party open to suggestions that promote dialogue between its members.’  As an organisation, he said, one must continuously assess their operating environment. He argues that it is the only way one will be in touch with reality, and it is the only way one would be able to deliver on one’s mandate.

‘The same applies to the BDP. We are not panicking, and we are not worried, but we routinely review what our competitors are doing. We are a party that knows how to win elections, Batswana trust us, the opposition wants to to be like us, so there is no threat we are feeling its simply opposition parties who have an illusion about winning elections.’BCP Publicity and Information Secretary, Dithapelo Keorapetse said they are on the lookout of any attempt by the ruling party to derail their efforts. “The BDP is left with only four years and of course they may come up with all sorts of tactics to infiltrate us. That is what happens to a regime of the BDP calibre, a corrupt regime that cares less about the lives of its people it will do all that is possible to remain in power. This is simply because the BDP can clearly see that, it is on its knees”, said Keorapetse. The BCP mouthpiece said they are aware that the BDP will use security apparatus to try and get information on the talks. He said as the opposition they care less about this because they know that even some members of the security organs are not happy with the current government.

“Whatever they would be planning some of these officers would notify us. They are also fed up with the BDP government. We remain focused as the BCP and we know that our counterparts from the UDC are also on the same page with us. We are optimistic that no matter what, we will be able to conclude the talks and usher in a new government in 2019 as the BDP will be against a formidable opposition.”UDC head of Elections Topias Kgosikoma told Botswana Guardian that it is up to the negotiating partners to ensure there is no room left for the BDP to frustrate the cooperation talks. He shared Keorapetse’s sentiments that they cannot allow the BDP to derail them because “this project is for Batswana. We are doing what is best for Batswana by ensuring that all goes according to plan. Individual negotiating parties have to make it a priority that the talks become a success.” Political Analyst Anthony Morima opined that it would be proper for the BDP to discuss the matter. Morima said the move clearly shows that the ruling party is threatened. He stated that the BDP should feel threatened by opposition given its performance in the last year’s general election. “It would be detrimental to the BDP if they ignore this development. If you recall the BDP has long started working on ways to try and frustrate these efforts by the opposition.

It was accused of influencing some BCP members to be against the cooperation. It even recruited some of the BCP key members some of whom have since joined the BDP.” The BDP Chairman, Mokgweetsi Masisi who is also the country’s Vice President this week revealed without going into details that there are other issues that the delegates to the special congress would like to be discussed. He explained that the party leadership via the central committee has consented to that. There are many BDP members who have different views about what the party should or should not do, he said. “Delegates asked to be given time to continue to discuss with colleagues and see if they can influence one another through a congress on what should the BDP do when and in what way. This is because the mission is very clear; we want to stay in power, we want to increase our influence and increase our membership and do well for Botswana. So following deliberations, ideas converged if there are sharp differences it might be put to a vote and the majority would prevail and it would become a party position.”The chairman said they are going to campaign vigorously as the BDP and “when we go into any election will win it.

Any weakness would be dealt with, even our own internal weakness. We are the premier political party in this country. Batswana if they dare not vote for us they will be sorry for bringing opposition on board. Even though they are talking about cooperating we will take them head on. This hullabaloo of winning election in 2019 is just a dream. Who misinformed them about that? This is not a mathematical game. Others there do not even have policies. We are not here to play games; we are going to talk to Batswana. Don’t underestimate our energy and hunger we have now because we should have never got 47 percent”, charged Masisi.

Published in News
Thursday, 24 September 2015 15:39

BCP dissidents join ruling party

Former Botswana Congress Party (BCP) activists who were suspended from the party pending disciplinary hearing have all joined the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

BCP suspended its Youth League Secretary General Thato Osupile, Oganne Mazwigwila, former BCPYL President Lotty Manyapetsa and Virginia Masole in July this year from the party for allegedly recruiting BCP members to join the BDP. They are said to have also met and received money from some of the BDP senior members, but they refute these claims.

Osupile and Mazwigwila joined the BDP last month while Manyapetsa and Masole were paraded before the media on Wednesday this week in Gaborone. The duo dumped the party early this month after the party twice postponed their disciplinary hearing. They have now acquired life memberships of the BDP.  A fortnight ago BCP President Dumelang Saleshando stated that events will prove that the party was right in its suspicions about the activists.

In an interview this week Masole said she only decided to join the party after carefully assessing all the political parties. She said choosing BDP was not influenced by anyone. Manyapetsa said his loyalty now is with the BDP and will be among those who will ensure that the party retains power in 2019. He dismissed claims that joining the BDP is the end of his political career.

Published in News

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