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Masisi breaks rank with Balopi

Despite last October’s victory by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), the party still has more obstacles to overcome and deep wounds to heal as it heads to its elective congress this year, which was consensually postponed last year by the members.

Prior to the elective congress which its dates have not yet been confirmed, the party is likely to see the incumbent Secretary General (SG), Mpho Balopi contesting against Shaw Kgathi who is currently the Deputy Secretary General (DSG) of the party and Kagelelo Banks Kentse who is Head of Communications.

However news reaching this publication shows that His Excellency President Mokgweetsi Masisi has broken rank with his ally, Balopi. It is said, Masisi has been watching how things pan out and finally came to a resolution that Banks replaces Mpho Balopi. Sources say that, Masisi is also hesitant of having Kgathi for the same position and the person he is deeply rooting for the position is Kentse. Kgathi is taken as old guards that should be replaced by new faces. Kentse joined the BDP from Botswana Movement for Democracy in 2018 after Masisi assumed the Presidency.

The Members of the Central Committee (CC) are also alleged to be against Balopi remaining in the same position. A close source to this publication has articulated that Masisi believes that the reason why the party is in “shambles” is because of Balopi, who he says has deeply divided the party over the years. Moreover, Balopi is reported to be still working with former President Ian Khama, which does not sit well with President Masisi. Reports from sources say that Balopi justifies his relation by saying that he and Khama have known each other from time immemorial and he is what he is because of Khama. Balopi first became the party SG at a time when Khama was leading the party.

In an interview with this publication, Kentse denied claims that he is also eyeing the SG seat and that he has the President’s support. “I have not considered standing in any position for the elective congress nor has there been any discussions on the position between me and the President.” He further slammed the alleged fall-out between him and Balopi emphasizing that theirs is a healthy political relationship.

When asked about the alleged reconciliation between he and Balopi meeting because of Masisi, Kentse said, “from time to time the President would call members of the party, yes we have met with the President but only to discuss the status of the party and not what is being alleged.”  When reached for comment Balopi said that it was too early to announce whether or not as an incumbent he would like to retain his position as Secretary General of the party. “All will be announced in due course, there are certain procedures and principles that need to be followed within the party, nevertheless, whether or not I am interested.’’

Balopi -who won the Gaborone North constituency by 9566 votes, was rewarded with a Ministerial position heading Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development- is alleged to be displeased by this appointment. Being one of the most senior amongst the elected MPs within the party structures, had his hopes high. Impeccable informants this week revealed that Balopi believes he should have been given a more senior ministry which corresponds with his position within the party. In fact, it is said, he was eyeing Kabo Morwaeng’s Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.  

As it is, Balopi is the third most senior member of a party, coming after Masisi and Tsogwane. However Kagiso Mmusi, who is Masisi’s ally has been given Ministry of Defence Justice and Security which is the second senior after that of Morwaeng, Balopi has read malice from that. Building up to the elections at a time when the Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane was de-campaigned by Khama, there were pessimism within the party that Tsogwane will retain the Boteti West Constituency.

By then the party’s top brass had a contingency plan and Balopi’s name was mentioned on numerous occasions to Masisi in case Tsogwane lost. This left him licking lips for possibility of bigger and better things in government, until Masisi revealed his cabinet, says a source.
The BDP SG is alleged to now be working overtime to de-campaign Morwaeng in Molepolole South constituency for the 2024 General elections. He is alleged to be against the appointment of Morwaeng at the ministry and feels betrayed by Masisi.  

A reliable source to this publication has also revealed that Balopi has placed Jeffrey Sibisibi, who is a former Council Chairman of Kweneng District to challenge Morwaeng in the 2023 party primary elections and has since dispensed resources within the constituency to hit the ground running. News reaching this publication is that initially Balopi had not been a part of Masisi’s cabinet plans and was only added a day before swearing in when other party advisors cautioned President Masisi that it might cause conflicts within the party.

NORTHERN FACTION TAKES SHAPE

In other related reports, there is another alleged faction that is building up behind the scenes. The team is dominated by the northern based party members and those who are feel betrayed after ‘sacrificing’ for the party, including those who campaigned for the party in the past elections. Most of them are angry members who were not rewarded despite their hard work (names withheld). The main agenda of the faction is to frustrate Masisi and ensure his preferred candidates do not succeed at the expected congress.

The alleged faction was seen at Dibete this past weekend where informants say they were plotting on how to execute their move. At this time, the team is yet to take shape but it is busy working to ensure that they will be ready when the time comes. Dates for the party elective congress are expected to be revealed by the party central committee which is expected to meet early February.

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Minister Kgafela begs self-exiled brother to return

4th August 2021
Kgafela

A heartfelt message of good wishes from Minister Mmusi Kgafela to his self-exiled brother and Bakgatla paramount chief, Kgafela Kgafela II, this week urged the latter to consider calls for his return to Botswana to visit his tribe and family.

“On behalf of our father’s people, your people, I wish to inform you that Bakgatla are thinking of you, and they miss you dearly. They request that you should find time to visit them. Please come to Botswana to spend some time with them, to see and greet them,” said Mmusi as part of his 50 years birthday message to Kgafela Kgafela II, who has vowed never to set foot in Botswana.

However, Mmusi Kgafela did not shed light on how his brother will deal with the arrest warrant, which triggers once he sets foot in Botswana.

The Bakgatla Kgosikgolo, who went on a self-imposed exile in 2012 to South Africa, faces a decade-old-plus warrant of arrest issued by the Village magistrate court after his non-appearance in Court over criminal charges relating to flogging of his subjects. Kgafela described the charges as ‘political persecution’ before jetting out to his second home in South Africa, Moruleng, where he is also a Chief.

Asked over his views on the complications around the warrant of arrest, Mmusi, a lawyer by training, said, “what people need to understand is that a warrant of arrest is not a prison sentence.”

He continued: “There is a need for reconciliation and discussions to put all these issues behind us. We need to move on. What I have also realized is that the state is not keen on pursuing the matter as they have not sought his extradition,” he said.

In 2017, the then Minister of Defence, Justice, and Security, Shaw Kgathi, told Parliament that the arrest warrant issued against Bakgatla Kgosi-kgolo is still valid.

“….because a Court order once issued remains valid and enforceable unless it is rescinded by the Court that issued it, in this case being Village Magistrate Court. It may also be revoked by a higher court being the High Court or the Court of Appeal,” Kgathi said.

As things stand, the Government will arrest Bakgatla Kgosi Kgafela II if he crosses over to Botswana, Parliament heard.

Kgathi responded to a question by the then Mochudi West Member of Parliament, Gilbert Mangole, who wanted to know if the arrest warrant imposed on Kgafela was still valid.  Further, he wanted clarity on what it would take for the Government to trigger the removal of the warrant to enable Kgosi to visit his tribe in Botswana if he so wishes.

Could Mmusi be under pressure to facilitate Kgafela’s return?

Although Mmusi denies the claim, some royal sources opine that he (Mmusi) is under pressure to help President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi fulfill his 2019 electoral campaign pledge to the tribe. The President had pledged that he would “not rest until their chief, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela II, is back home.”

Mmusi, however, says Masisi has not personally engaged him on Kgafela.

Kgafela’s former lawyer, Advocate Sydney Pilane, has in the past told this publication that he suspects that as the leader of the BDP, President Masisi hopes that if he brings Kgosi Kgafela back, BaKgatla may be grateful to the BDP, and benefits might accrue in consequence.

While Mmusi says the matter will need to be discussed and dealt with, private attorney Kgosiitsile Ngakaagae who was prosecuting Kgafela, warned that there is nothing to address or facilitate.

“There is no need for political intervention. Kgosi Kgafela is officially a fugitive from Justice. It’s for the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to issue a nolle prosequi (we shall no longer prosecute) to enable his return. Constitutionally the DPP cannot be dictated to by politicians. The matter is beyond the President unless he violates the DPP’s constitutional mandate,” charged Ngakaagae.

“An arrest is intended to bring someone to Court. Secondly, a party who has become aware that a warrant has been issued against them can apply to Court before it is implemented for it to be discharged.”

The only option for the state currently, which the state is reluctant to pursue, is to drop the charges and withdraw the warrant of arrest or decide on a deliberate non-enforcement of the warrant, according to lawyers who spoke to this publication.

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The secrecy behind BDF deployment budget

4th August 2021
President Masisi & BDF

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently told his parliament that the deployment of his army to Mozambique had cost close to a billion rand, with the exact figure placed at R984,368, 057. On the other hand, the Botswana government is yet to say a word on their budget concerning the deployment.

In his National Assembly report tabled last week Tuesday, Ramaphosa said:

“This serves to inform the National Assembly that I have authorized the employment of 1,495 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for service in fulfillment of an international obligation towards SADC, to assist Mozambique combat acts of terrorism and violent extremists in the Caba Delgado province. This deployment had cost close to a billion rand, with the exact figure placed at R984,368,057.”

The soldiers, he said, are expected to remain there for the next three months.

Botswana, however, is yet to publicize its expenditure. Asked by this publication over why they have not and whether they will, the Minister of Defence, Justice, and Security, Kagiso Mmusi, said they would when the time is right.

“As you may be aware, nobody planned for this. It was not budgeted for. We had to take our BDF resources to Mozambique, and we are still doing our calculations. We also need to replace what we took from the BDF to Mozambique,” he said.

This week, President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Botswana government would share the sustainment of the Mozambique military combat deployment. SADC has given Botswana its share to use according to its needs.

The costs in such deployments are typically categorized into three parts-boots on the ground or handling the system, equipment, and operational sustenance logistics.

It is unknown how much combat pay, danger pay, or sustenance allowance the soldiers will get upon return. However, President Masisi has assured the soldiers that they will get their money.

Masisi has said deployment comes when the country is faced with economic challenges that have been exacerbated to a great extent by the COVID-19 Pandemic, which is inflicting enormous health, financial, and social damage to all nations.

Botswana has sent 296 soldiers who left on Monday to Mozambique to join the SADC standby force.

Parliament fumes over being snubbed

In the 1994 Lesotho mission, the Botswana Parliament was engaged after the soldiers were long deployed. A repeat of history this week saw members of parliament grilling the executive over snubbing parliament and keeping it in the dark about the Mozambique military deployment.

Zimbabwe pledges 304 soldiers

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has pledged 304 soldiers to the SADC Standby Force Mission in Mozambique to train an infantry battalion-size unit at a time, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said.

In a statement to journalists, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the contingent would consist of 303 instructors and one specialist officer to coordinate the SADC Force Headquarters in Maputo.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said that in terms of Section 214 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Parliament would be informed accordingly.

During the Extraordinary Summit of the 16-member regional bloc held in Maputo, Mozambique, last month, member states resolved to deploy a force to help Mozambique contain insurgency in its northern provinces where terrorists have left a trail of destruction that also threatens regional peace.

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Isaac Kgosi awarded PhD

4th August 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

Former director general of the Directorate of Intelligence Service, Isaac Kgosi has been awarded doctorate in International and Diplomatic Studies by a Slovenian institution-New University after successfully defending his doctoral dissertation last year.

The institution‘s website shows that in February 2020 Kgosi defended his dissertation titled ‘Southern African Development Community [SADC] Diplomatic Conflict Management Response for Enhancing Human Security: The Case of Mozambique.’

“Faculty of government and European Studies hereby certifies that Seabelo Isaac Kgosi born in Francistown, on 15th December 1958 completed all obligations of the international and Diplomatic Studies doctoral programme on March 22,2021. On these grounds the Faculty of Government and European Studies is conferring  upon him the scientific  title of Doctor of Science in International  and Diplomatic Studies, abbr:PhD,” reads the institution’s conferment certificate dated  O6 July 2021.

Kgosi’s thesis was a study of SADC’s mediation and diplomacy in the Mozambican conflict that is mainly between the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) government and forces of the National Resistance (Renamo) that was once mediated by the late former president Sir Ketumile Masire in 2016 when it re-emerged after a revival by Renamo in 2012, driven by several grievances including allegations of economic marginalisation, regional economic imbalances and breach of the 1992 Rome General Peace Accords which had ended the post-independence civil war fought from 1977 to 1992. The escalation of conflict in Mozambique in early 2016 resulted in displacement of citizens in affected areas whilst thousands of people crossed the borders into Malawi and eastern Zimbabwe as refugees.

Efforts to search for and locate the document were unsuccessful at the time of going for press.

Kgosi’s curriculum vitae suggests that he has a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Intelligence and Security obtained from Brunel University, a public research university located in Uxbridge, West London, United Kingdom. The latter qualification was obtained in 2007.

It is not yet known on whether Kgosi will use his qualifications to seek employment locally or internationally, or will decide to open a consultancy firm in line with his experience and academic achievements once the dust surrounding him goes way.

The former spy chief is currently fighting to clear his name in a series of cases against the state, which accuses him of owing the tax man, capturing images of the intelligence agents, as well as their identity between the 18th and 25th February 2019 as well as the identity cards of the officers engaged in a covert operation of the DIS. He is also accused of instructing Bank of Botswana (BoB) to open three bank accounts that were used to loot public funds amounting to over P100 billion together with former president Lt Gen Ian Khama.

Kgosi has countered on all the cases demanding the evidence which links him to the crimes levelled against him, all of which the state is currently struggling to submit before the courts. The state has lost and appealed the photographs case while the P100 billion case has been described as a big lie by various institutions.

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