On Tuesday this week the Okavango constituency office in Shakawe was locked from the inside. A sign on the door read, “Meeting in progress. Come later.” The office, which houses Member of Parliament, Bagalatia Arone of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), remained locked until the late hours of the day.
Later that day, in the evening, MP Arone approached a close friend of his and told him that ‘I am joining these guys’. His friend asked him what he meant and the BCP man who is on his second term as MP for the Okavango constituency told him that he was defecting to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party. And his main reason: financial gain. “He basically told me that he does not want to leave politics a poor man,” said Arone’s friend who preferred to be anonymous. Arone has not handed in his resignation letter yet but sources say he will be a BDP member as soon as next week. A letter of intent to join the BDP is expected to reach the party before end of this week.In Botswana, politicians defect to a different party rarely because of conflicting ideologies but rather for personal reasons and of late for financial gain.
According to sources, Arone had earlier on Tuesday told employees of the constituency office that he was joining the BDP and thus they should follow him lest they lose their jobs. The constituency office secretary has since indicated that she will follow Arone to the BDP, sources have said. A Botswana Congress Party councillor for Nxamasere-Xhaoga-Samothima ward in Okavango, Gaopalelwe Ronald told this publication on Tuesday that Arone approached him and tried to recruit him (Ronald) to the BDP. “He told me that he was joining the BDP and thus he wanted me to also defect,” said Ronald. The latter refused the offer to join the BDP.
According to the councillor the MP was busy this week consulting and recruiting members of the BCP to the ruling party, a move which prompted his party (BCP) to suspend him. So far the councillors that Arone have approached have turned him down and the likelihood is that he will reach Tsholetsa House alone or with some ordinary party members in the constituency. The BCP had earlier on Tuesday said they did not have any letter of resignation from any of their MPs, and as a result could not address rumors. But the party later on the day released a statement stating that they have suspended Arone pending further investigations.
Ronald said the MP told him that he was joining the ruling party because being in opposition disadvantages the constituency in terms of developments. His reason being that Okavango, a constituency hit by poverty and rising unemployment numbers, remains less developed because it is in the hands of the opposition. The constituency for many years remained an opposition stronghold.Meanwhile, Ronald revealed to Botswana Guardian that Arone also told him that he is joining the BDP because opposition politics cannot make him rich.
It is currently not clear how Arone’s defection to the BDP will help him financially but sources say the MP has purchased a lodge in Shakawe and has another “project” in Letlhakane. Insiders say the MP is looking at life after politics. Apparently the MP got himself into a financial mess and the BDP has arranged to rescue him. “The lodge is the one that got him into trouble. He underfinanced and could not renovate to start operations. BDP has arranged to finance,” said an insider. The lodge in question, Hawk Guest House is currently going through renovations. A source based in Shakawe told this publication that renovation works have started at the lodge.
It is not yet clear what project the MP is working on in Letlhakane but sources said he told close friends that he has something coming up in that area. Contacted for comment, Arone denied joining BDP for financial gains. “People like prophesy”, he said without denying or confirming his defection. Asked about the lodge Arone indicated that he applied for a loan at CEDA and it was approved in November last year.
Pressed further about under financing and the renovations Arone hung the phone, but not before he angrily exclaimed “le a ntapisa banna, nna ke busy mo kgaolong ke tla bua le lona ke le ko Gaborone (you guys are irritating me, I am busy in my constituency and I will talk to you when I get to Gaborone). BDP Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane said they have not received anything official to suggest that Arone is their member. He however said anything could happen and if it so happens that anyone joins the BDP, it would be accordingly communicated.
Defection part of Mokgweetsi Masisi’s recruitment drive
Botswana Guardian understands that Arone’s defection to the ruling party is part of a major scheme by Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi to build his own team within the party. Many of the opposition members who recently decamped to the BDP are said to be recruited by Masisi. He is the one who puts their personal deals together as he wants to build a team that will be loyal to him as he fights for the BDP top post. Masisi is largely viewed as someone who has no base in the Barata Party or A Team factions of the BDP and is a man in need of a faction that he can count on. All the BCP members who have since joined the party among them former youth league President Lotty Manyapetsa have been linked to Masisi as he sees them as hard working individuals that he can count on. Masisi could not be reached for comment as his phone rang unanswered. For his part Manyapetsa said as any BDP member he is loyal to the party and not individuals and anything he does in the party would be in accordance with the assignment given to him by the party.
BCP to approach Kenny Kapinga
Insiders have told this publication that the BCP members in the constituency want the party leadership to approach Botswana’s outgoing Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Kenny Kapinga to represent the party come 2019. Kapinga is viewed as a BCP sympathiser.
Okavango has been a BCP stronghold for long and it is anticipated that come what may, the BDP may still find it difficult to claim the constituency under Arone. Efforts to reach Kapinga at press time were futile. On social media page ‘Facebook’, Kapinga on May 27th,bid Zimbabweans and Batswana living in Zimbabwe farewell. “The reality of life is that there is time for everything. I am now home, ready to venture onto new career altogether,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
President Dr. Ian Khama’s government has come under heavy criticism for its deafening silence over the Panama leaks which continue to link local businesspeople to involvement in offshore accounts.
The scathing attacks were made by the former Speaker of Parliament Dr. Margaret Nasha recently in Francistown. Nasha, who dumped Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in favour of its offspring Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) said that since the Panama leaks, Khama has preferred remained tight lipped even though some local businessmen have been fingered in the alleged dirty tax evasion deal. She pointed out that while other countries have taken measures against their citizens’ involvement in Panama, Khama’s regime has preferred to remain mum in the process leaving the public with more questions than answers.
“The British Prime Minister David Cameron was at one point under pressure as citizens wanted him to step down since he benefited from the Panama offshore accounts held by his father. This is a clear sign that the country’s powers that be are gravely concerned to the extent of knowing the truth about these offshore accounts. Khama’s silence on this issue is questionable as it leaves a lot of questions than answers,” she explained.
Her sentiments follow hard on recent revelations that President of the Court of Appeal Ian Kirby and Farouk Ismail, a major shareholder in Choppies, are also linked to the Panama leaks. Nasha said that people should start asking themselves questions as to why Khama is silent this time around. She suspects that a good number of influential figures of the country are connected to the leaks.
“Go ka se didimalwe jaana. Tjingwenyana tji yapo,” she added in Kalanga to the amusement of the crowd. Nasha is also disappointed that the current government is run without a National Development Plan which she said is like a budget. Her other worry is that running a country without a budget breeds fertile ground for money laundering by leaders.
“Corruption cases involving high ranking government officers are not brought before the court and this a laughable matter as these guys are hiding something. When rot was smelt at Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), we advised that an investigation be carried out to salvage the BMC only for the president to refuse until BMC went on its knees. When we tried to investigate Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) on their glass manufacturing plant in Palapye, Khama refused until the project collapsed and it will never stand up again. We have plenty of salt but the president doesn’t see the need to package it locally in the process creating employment,” she added.
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”.
The leader of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Duma Boko this week fired a salvo at the Minister of Finance, Development and Planning, Kenneth Matambo for failing to provide answers on the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP).
Ever since it was launched last year at a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) special congress in Gaborone there’s been no concrete information as to how much money government is going to use. According to Boko what the government did is “cruel, irresponsible and fraudulent.” In the budget speech Matambo described the ESP as a strategy for boosting growth, promoting economic diversification and creating jobs.
He said ESP is aimed at supporting domestic economic activities in the short term, while providing foundation for sustainable growth path for the economy in the long term through investment in infrastructural development.
Leader of Opposition retorted that they still do not know how much the government intends to spend on the ESP, and how many jobs it expects to save or create. “We find this arrogant, disrespectful to parliament and the people, and completely at odds with responsible governance,” he said adding that there is a need for serious dialogue on the direction of the economy because piecemeal initiatives skirt the problem of unemployment.
Boko said that government sold the (ESP) as a bold programme to resuscitate the economy and that it is naïve to think that injection of cash into a stagnating economy could somehow engineer an economic boom. Boko said it was fraudulent for ministers and legislators to urge Batswana to register firms in preparation for the ESP.
“We will not create enough jobs fast enough to absorb the growing pool of skilled and unskilled youths unless we accept that unemployment in Botswana is structural, what we need is a serious dialogue on the direction of the economy and on jobs,” said Boko. In his speech on performances of Parastatals in the year 2014/2015 Matambo said they had shown mixed performances.
Boko responded that parastatals are experiencing outrageous levels of corruption and mismanagement. He attributed political interference as an example and said that parastatals have become sources of linkages in government. He described mismanagement and corruption as twin evils in afflicting parastatals and that there is an urgent need to address the matter urgently through the adoption of governance practices.
At the risk of causing divisions within the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), the collective will soon be issuing membership cards to individuals wanting to join it directly.
The UDC is an opposition coalition constituted by the Botswana Peoples’ Party (BPP), Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). Since its formation two years ago, the UDC has always operated as the mother-body of the three parties by not providing for individual membership to it.
Instead, it was the three parties that were members of the UDC that could accept individual members. Confirming speculation that has been in circulation for some time that the mother-body would soon be issuing membership cards to individuals, the chairman of the UDC, Motlatsi Molapisi told a political rally at Tutume recently that the three parties have experienced resistance from many people who do not want to join any of them directly.
Instead, according to him, they want to join the Umbrella directly. “The consultation process by the contracting parties is over. The membership form should have been launched in December but had to be deferred because of unforeseen circumstances. We were looking to launch it in February this year but with the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) almost certainly joining the UDC, we might need to further defer it to give the party the opportunity to have a say in the matter,” said the veteran of opposition politics.
However, political and social commentator, Anthony Morima finds it incredulous that anybody with an inclination towards the UDC will have difficulty joining any of its affiliates. There are widespread concerns that, should the UDC issue membership cards to individuals, it will be directly competing with its affiliates for membership. A BNF veteran who preferred anonymity for discussing party matters without authorisation said that, he last heard about the issue at a BNF meeting where there was serious objection to it.
“It is such a terrible idea. You cannot have a situation where the mother-body is competing with its affiliates for members,” he said. Apparently, dual membership will be provided for those who seek membership of the UDC while they are card-carrying members of one of the affiliating parties. Regarding those who prefer to become members of the UDC only, it is not clear whether they will have a stake at the various party fora such as conferences or seminars. There are also concerns as to what will happen to those whose party is only the UDC in the event the coalition collapses.
Said Molapisi regarding the fate of those who will be aligned to the UDC without being members of any of the affiliating parties, “Our belief is that the UDC will endure forever. We do not expect it to collapse and have the BPP, BNF and BMD go their separate ways.” He argued that many people want the threesome to coalesce into a single entity.
However, not everybody believes the coalition will exist forever. “It was never intended to be so. This is not a merger but just a tactic for assuming state power. UDC has never been intended to be a party,” said another BNF activist also preferring anonymity for fear of reprisals. His belief is that, opposition parties have failed to learn from the mistakes of the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM).
BAM was formed towards the 1999 general elections by the Botswana Action Party (BAP) and BPP. The relationship ended acrimoniously in 2000 with the BPP losing scores of its officials and cadres to BAM which had been controversially registered as a political party. The BNF activist anticipates a situation where, at some point, the three parties may go their separate ways.
“Just as BAM became a rival to the BPP, we run the risk of facing UDC as a rival at some point in time should we make the mistake of turning the UDC into a political party. This will be a mistake,” said the BNF activist who lamented that those wanting to merge the UDC affiliates into a party are clueless about what a Front is. As far as he is concerned, the decision to give membership cards to UDC members is too grave to be made by the leaderships of the contracting parties.
“It is a decision which can only come from a congress and no BNF congress has deliberated on the matter. Our Sefhare congress rejected the idea of a merger. As things are, the leadership wants to impose this on us without any discussion and this might cause complications,” he said.
In his view, instead of pandering to the whims of those wanting to join the UDC and not and its affiliates, UDC cadres should educate the potential recruits on the meaning of a Front and the dangers of strengthening the Umbrella at the expense of its feeders.
Former president of the BCP, Michael Dingake agrees. “It is important that the general membership of the UDC be taken on board. There is need for public education on the intention to merge the parties. Should the UDC leadership impose its decisions on the people, there is bound to be instability,” he said.
Political analyst Morima said that it would be unlawful for the UDC to behave like a political party when it is not a party, “If indeed those forms have been finalised, what was the basis for making them? The status quo at the UDC must continue until at such a time when the UDC decides to be a political party. Although we do not know explicitly what the UDC constitution says on this matter, we know that the spirit of an Umbrella is for people to continue belonging to their parties. What is being suggested is not in the interest of the affiliates. The UDC is likely to weaken its affiliates and eventually kill them.”
Professor Zibani Maundeni believes that those opposed to the issuing of UDC membership cards to individuals have got misplaced concerns. “They are creating factionalism out of nothing. The expectation is that, with time, the affiliates should disappear or remain just affiliates. It is the UDC that must grow and not its affiliates,” said Professor Maundeni.
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 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.
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.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has challenged the Chief Justice, Maruping Dibotelo to apologise to the public for taking ‘an administrative matter’ to the police. Dibotelo has reported the four suspended judges to the police for receiving housing allowance amounting to about P800 000 while staying in government houses.
BCP President, Dumelang Saleshando contends that what the chief justice did was wrong. “He has to apologise unless there is something behind this issue that we do not know. And if there is such, I think the public deserves to know or he should just apologise to the public for his conduct”, he said.
Saleshando, who was briefing members of the media in Gaborone early this week, said there were proper channels that Dibotelo could have followed rather than to report the matter to the police. He said what Dibotelo has done baffles the mind. President Khama late last month suspended four High Court Judges Justice Key Dingake, Justice Modiri Letsididi, Justice Mercy Garekwe and Justice Ranier Busang for undermining the Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo and bringing the judiciary into disrepute. Khama suspended the quartet for challenging Justice Dibotelo’s move to report them to the police for receiving housing allowances while staying in official residences.
The four judges have filed an urgent court application to set aside the president’s decision. Saleshando told the media that what happened with the transactions of the judges is a common occurrence in the public service.He said there were proper channels that are followed for over payments and over expenditure. He said such issues are always dealt with at the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee. “The chief justice is not even an accounts officer. We always see these occurrences at the public accounts committee and measures are put in place for the money to be recovered.
I am to wonder what would happen if each and every public servant who benefited from funds that they are not entitled to, were reported to the police. It means police stations would be overwhelmed with public servants cases for overpayment or even imprest.” He said Batswana hold the judiciary in high regard and what is happening is worrisome. He questioned the decision to suspend four judges following the signatures of the 12 judges who petitioned Dibotelo. Saleshando said they suspect witch-hunt in the whole situation. He said as the BCP they cannot say much on the matter since it is now before the court. He stated that the party will decide its next move on the matter once it has been finalised by the courts.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko has dismissed the Tribunal appointed to investigate the four suspended judges as a “mere formality,” to cover up President Ian Khama’s “corruption” since the judges will be “fired” anyway.
Flanked by his deputy, Ndaba Gaolathe, the UDC leader was addressing a press conference on Wednesday in Francistown. He said the suspension of the four judges is a clear sign of Khama’s corruption. “Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said explaining that a tribunal is to be held for the suspended judges. He added that the justice system is currently in crisis as the workload of the judges has to be shared among the remaining eight. Touching on the utility crisis currently besieging the country, Boko said the water crisis started a long time ago and has been marked by critical instances of corruption by individuals in the current government.
He defended his party’s decision to march and hand a petition to the president of the country over the current crisis saying they will not apologise for marching and will in fact continue to raise alarm even if it is through dance and song. He added that billions of pulas were spent on Morupule A yet it remains a cold power station. “Billions of pulas were pumped into the procurement of these power and water projects and when you are confronted with the mistakes of the past you come up to us and tell us you do not make it rain. Of course you don’t make it rain, you are not God,” said Boko when clarifying the reason why they queried the situation to President Ian Khama.
Khama was quoted as saying he is not a rainmaker when he commissioned the Masama well fields in the Kgatleng district on the same day of the UDC protest march. Boko’s lieutenant, Ndaba Gaolathe said the solution to the water and power crisis lies in acquiring a regulator for utilities in the country, which he said should have been done a long time ago. He added that for investors to find it appealing to invest in the country they must be assured that they will recoup their investments, but if there is no regulator then there is no telling what the future holds citing that nobody can readily tell what the price of water will be in the next year.
The current government is under investing in these vital resources, allocating only P3.5 billion to water and power when in actual fact the government should not be spending any less than P30 billion over a period of five years. Boko added that the bulk of the P54 billion-budget goes towards funding corruption and that the UDC demands that the government must account for the billions-worth of taxes.