Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), through its Secretary General, Mpho Balopi has lashed the new party legislators barely a day after being sworn in the August House for defying the "party caucus consistently”.
According to Balopi, the unknown MPs acted in cohorts with the opposition to undermine the party and its constitution. “Following yesterday’s vote for Specially Elected Members of Parliament (SEMP), it is clear that at least one person defied the caucus consistently and at some point two others did,” Balopi alerted the 38 legislators before lashing them. “For a party that runs on consultation and the rule of law, this is extremely disappointing and worrying especially in these early days.”
While it is still not known as to who could have disobeyed the party agreement on Sunday last week, it appears there were members within the party who were not content with the six names President Mokgweetsi Masisi put before for nominations. According to insiders, MPs are of the view that they should have also been accorded an opportunity to suggest names or at least, Masisi should have presented a pool of names they could select from.
Unity Down, who was elected to parliament through the same dispensation in 2014 by former President Ian Khama, after losing 2014 elections but ultimately given the Ministry of Foreign Affairs International Cooperation, was voted by 36 MPs out of BDP’s 38. This indicates that two members within the party did not give their blessings for her continue as the specially nominated. 21 members abstained on election of Dow, while one vote was spoilt.
Apart from Dow, Kgotla Autlwetse, Philda Kereng, Beauty Manake, Kefentse Mzwinila and Peggy Serame were all voted for by 38 MPs-presumably all from the 38 BDP MPs in parliament. Owing to the development, Balopi has taken the MPs who are dominantly new, through the party processes. “I must hasten to remind you all that the caucus we held on Sunday 3rd November 2019, was a meeting sanctioned by Section 31 of the BDP constitution,” he said.
He went on to caution them that the decisions reached at a caucus are binding on each member as per article 32.1, of the party constitution. “Any deviation from caucus decisions is a contravention of the BDP constitution,” he sternly warned. Observers however, believe that the decision to defy the party caucus might be done by the senior members within the party. “The party has more faces and after their somehow surprise victories, there is no how they would vote against the party will. Only the senior members are capable of doing so because they have worked with her [Dow] before, in the 11th parliament,” political scientist Dr Teedzani Mpaphi posited.
Currently, legislators are in Kasane for retreat and orientation on the business of parliament, including standing orders and general rules. Meanwhile the BDP has reminded their members that the party membership is a heavy responsibility that demands selfless dedication. “This is a reminder that our individual interests should not undermine the collective decisions of the party. Doing forward, let us do better and comply,” concluded Balopi.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.