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UDC court papers detail how BDP rigged elections

The evidence brought before court in the bourgeoning petitions relating to cases in which the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is alleging that at least 13 constituencies were rigged, does not bode well for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Weekend Post is privy to the damaging details contained in an affidavit by one Emmanuel Seretse Mohalodi, who perceives himself as a bona fide life member of the BDP. In his written affidavit Mohalo explains that he is entitled to depose to the affidavit by virtue of being a member of one of the BDP teams that were set up to carry out a vote rigging operation in the just ended 23rd October 2019 General Elections.

He describes that there were several teams set-up and headed by different members of the BDP. One such team is said to have been headed by Moemedi Dennis Baikalafi, who is a member of the BDP Communications Support Sub Committee. “I and Sekati Selaledi and other BDP trusted activists were involved in the operation. All the teams were given targets [per ward in each constituency.

The target was 600 voters per ward for Ghanzi North and South, Kgalagadi North & South, Takatokwane-Dutlwe constituency, Jwaneng –Mabutswane, Kanye North & South, and all other rural based constituencies,” said Mohalodi.  The said operation Mohalodi says was supervised by the BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi and BDP Chairperson, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane. President Mokgweetsi Masisi is said to have coordinated the entire operation as Chief Campaigner of the BDP.

THE DIS SLUSH FUND

In his written affidavit Mohalodi continues to state the Director of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS), was involved with logistics and provision of slush fund. DIS is alleged to have contributed P15, 000 000.00 (fifteen Million Pula) to carry out the vote rigging exercise.
The security organ is alleged to have coordinated the said operation from each region. The team was provided with transport, accommodation and allowances were provided by the DIS whenever they were in their regions.

‘In Central District Region, it was coordinated by Trouser, who is the DIS Regional overseer of Central District Region,” Mohalodi continues. He further alleges that the Private Secretary to the President, Maphakwane, worked closely with the DIS Director to ensure that the operation ran smoothly.

HOW THE DOUBLE REGISTRATION TOOK PLACE

Thousands of people are said to have been ferried to register in all five Gaborone constituencies, across 20 villages in Botswana. Five Hundred people were trafficked into each ward at Gaborone South Constituency, 3000 other voters were trafficked into Gaborone South and majority of these 3000 voters are said to have voted in Lobatse Constituency as well. The affidavit further alleges that other voters came from Mochudi to vote in Gaborone South at Babusi ward and were registered using expired identity cards.

The affected constituencies in the operation people were ferried from Kang to Jwaneng-Mabutshane Constituency, Ngami Constituency to Ghanzi North Constituency, Kanye Constituencies to Gaborone, Molepolole Constituencies to Kgatleng Constituencies, Kopong-Lentsweletau were trafficked to Tlokweng, Selibe-Phikwe East & West to Shashe West and Tati West, Shoshong voters to Lephephe-Letlhakeng, Maun to Boteti West Constituency and Francistolwn South to Tswapong South, Tonota Constituency to Tswapong South, Nkange Constituency to Chobe constituency and Moshupa-Manyana and Kopong-Lentsweletau were trafficked to Gaborone Bonnington North. It is alleged that all the foregoing modus operandi was repeated in all constituencies were voters would vote at their home villages or towns then move to the second constituency to vote for the second-time.

HOW IEC ASSISTED BDP

In executing their mandate, Mohalodi alleges that a mole was needed at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). The IEC moles or inside job operators are alleged to have been at two levels, they had paid moles during registration exercise and at Headquarters after registration. The BDP had verbal agreements with IEC officials who were hired to partake in the registration of voters from 3rd September 2018 to 11th November 2018, 17th December 2018 to mid-March 2019 and 15th April 2019 to 28th April 2019.

The verbal agreements are alleged to have been that a BDP agent would bring a list of 25, or 30, or 50 or 100 people together with their National Identity cards to the registration point. The owners of these identity cards would not appear at the registration point. “Other names were submitted at the homes of these IEC officials to enter into the registration books after hours.”

The alleged Russian system was installed and operated by Omang Office, it was such that if a voter had registered twice in the same district, that voter would be rejected. But if a voter registered in different districts the system would register him or her as a valid voter for the second time. In the same instances same voters were issued with different omang cards.

Buses, seven seater cars, mini-buses, Epsom 7 seaters were provided to Team leaders. Team leaders were also assisted by Members of Parliament in concerned areas with cars to execute their mandate diligently. Team leaders are said to have booked queues at around 3am for voters on the 23rd October 2019.

SNUBBING OF ANTI-MASISI CAMP

The BDP Members of Parliament who lost elections are alleged to have been viewed as ‘Anti-Masisi’, voters were not trafficked into their constituencies because of the aforementioned reason. The affected were Dorcus Makgato, Master Goya, Phillip Makgalemele, Thapelo Olopeng, Francisco Kgoboko, Lesedi Phuthego and Bernard Bolele.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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