Boteti West Member of Parliament, and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane’s fifth successive term victory has elevated him to an exclusive club of legislators who have served more than 25 years, majority of them who are founding lawmakers.
If Tsogwane sees-off his fifth term, he will be among 11 MPs to serve over 25 years in the legislative house. Currently 10 former MPs have served that feat, with Kwelagobe being the longest serving MP, having been an MP for 45 years. Trailing Kwelagobe, with 34 years of service are Edison Masisi, Lemme Makgekgenene and Obed Chilume, who are the country’s founding MPs. Ponatshego Kedikilwe who joined parliament in 1984 from public service, has served 30 years in parliament, including his last two years as Vice President.
Tsogwane, who joined parliament in 1999 will retain the title of ‘Father of House’, a ceremonial designation given to the longest serving male MP in Westminster parliaments. Tsogwane first claimed the title during the previous parliament, after a number of veteran MPs failed to retain their seats. At present, parliament is without a ‘Mother of the House’, as all elected female MPs are new entrants. That however may change if one of the previous female MPs is elected thorough Specially Elected dispensation.
Saleshando joins Masire, Kgabo & Mmusi
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Vice President Dumelang Saleshando, has joined Sir Ketumile Masire, Englishman Kgabo and Peter Mmusi as the only MPs who have represented two different constituencies in parliament. Saleshando previously served as legislator for Gaborone Central from 2004 to 2014. After losing Gaborone Central in the previous elections, Saleshando relocated to Maun West to try his luck and succeeded.
While many politicians have tried to change constituencies to enhance their luck, very few have succeeded. Masire was the architect of this game. Masire had lost Kanye South constituency to Kgosi Bathoen Gaseitsiwe II in the 1969 general elections. In 1974 general elections, Masire, convinced that he will never reclaim Kanye South from his chief, moved to Ngwaketse/Kgalagadi constituency and won it. He held it until he became president in 1980.
In the late 1970s, after David Magang expressed his interest to contest general elections, BDP power brokers and strategists maneuvered and "tossed around" several constituencies to get the best results. As BDP headed to 1979 general elections, Peter Mmusi was moved from Kweneng South to contest Gaborone constituency. The reason for this redeployment was that, Magang was new into politics and may struggle to ingrain himself with urban voters, while Mmusi, who had been commissioner and teacher at St Joseph’s College before was the ideal candidate.
Englishman Kgabo moved from Kweneng East to take up Mmusi's constituency (Kweneng South). Magang then replaced Kgabo at Kweneng East. Both candidates won their new seats in subsequent elections.However, in 1984, Mmusi, then Vice President, decision to relocate from his rural constituency to Gaborone backfired as he became the victim of BNF insurgency, losing Gaborone South (after court ordered a re-run) constituency to Dr Kenneth Koma, but remained MP after being brought back through the Specially Elected dispensation. In 1989, Mmusi went back to his old constituency (Kweneng South) and won.
Declining re-election rate
The 12th parliament will have the highest number of new entrants since parliament was increased to 57 seats in 2004, and also the highest proportion of number of new entrants since 1965. The 12th parliament has 41 new faces, a development which has been a result of different dynamics. BDP has since lost its strongholds in Central region, owing to the formation of Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), a Bangwato royal backed party.
BDP for the first time since 1965, has lost the constituencies of Serowe, Palapye and Mahalapye as well as Nkange. The dynamic also mean that only eight constituencies (Boteti East, Boteti West, Moshupa/Manyana, Thamaga/Kumakwane, Shashe West, Mmadinare, Lerala/Maunatlala, and Mmopane/Lentsweletau) have never been won by opposition parties.
Sir Ketumile Masire Kanye South (1965-1969) Ngwaketse/Kgalagadi (1974-1980) Englishman Kgabo Kweneng East (1965-1979) Kweneng South (1979-1989) Peter Mmusi Kweneng South (1974-1979) Gaborone South (1979-1984) Kweneng South (1989-1994)
Dumelang Saleshando Gaborone Central (2004-2014) Maun West (2019-2024)
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.