The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has won the country’s 12th general election with a resounding margin. The party has ruled the country since its independence in 1966. The win gives President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi a five year term to implement the BDP’s manifesto which promises among other things, growing the economy to create jobs, and effect a constitutional review.
The BDP won 38 seats out of a possible 57 seats, giving it 66.66% of the vote. The main opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), led by Advocate Duma Boko, only managed to garner 15 seats, while the former president Dr Ian Khama-backed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), led by Biggie Butale gained 3 seats, and Ndaba Gaolathe’s Alliance of Progressives (AP) won one seat. In 2014 the BDP won 37 seats and the popular vote stood at about 47%, it has certainly gone up this year.
The BDP white washed the opposition in southern constituencies which include all the five in Gaborone, two Mochudi constituencies, Ramotswa, Tlokweng, two Kanye constituencies, Mogoditshane, two Molepolole constituencies, Goodhope-Mabule, Mathethe-Molapowabojang, Lobatse, Gabane-Mankgodi, Moshupa-Manyana, Lentsweletau-Mmopane, Jwaneng-Mabutsane and Thamaga. The BDP dominance also stretched to the Western part of the country where it won both Kgalagadi constituencies, as well as Takatokwane and Letlhakeng-Lephephe.
The wave of red in the south was influenced by President Masisi who took over the leadership of the ruling party 18 months ago. Many observers are of the view that the victory demonstrates the confidence the voters have on President Masisi to turn around the fortunes of the country after reports of widespread corruption and a non-responsive government. Masisi has vowed to deal with corruption, enforce rule of law, address poverty and unemployment among some of his key themes.
Also key in this election was the feud between President Masisi and his predecessor, Dr Ian Khama, who had made it his personal mission to unseat Masisi. This in the view of many earned Masisi substantial sympathy votes and they gave him a fresh mandate to lead the country for the next five years. The instructive win gives the BDP, which has been in power for 53 years, a chance to implement major constitutional, economic and developmental changes which President Masisi has promised will “change Botswana for the better, and propel it on a new growth path”.
Ever since President Masisi took over the party, there has been a consistent message of ‘the re-birth of the BDP’ and it is evident from the results that voters have been attracted to the new BDP hence they rejected the opposition alternative that promised to deliver 100 000 in 12 months, P3000 minimum wage, P1500 old age pension and P2500 tertiary students allowance among other goodies. President Masisi has resisted calls for him to set targets for himself during the election campaign trail.
The BDP’s big jump in popular vote is ascribed to the decision by the leader of the UDC, Duma Boko to associate himself with the former President, Dr Ian Khama who was very unpopular in urban centres and most areas with close proximity to the capital city Gaborone. The BDP scored huge victories in all these areas. On the flip though the Khama influence was evident in the central district where his BPF managed to win 3 Serowe constituencies and further hurt the chances of the BDP in Palapye, Mahalapye East and Mahalapye West, Bobonong, Shoshong and Tonota constituencies.
This is what President Masisi said as it appears on the BDP’s social media page, “Batswana, thank you for voting BDP! I am humbled and honoured that you again entrusted the BDP with your confidence and mandate to uplift the lives of our people and to strengthen our country. As the President of Botswana for the next five years, I am blessed and privileged to serve you and I promise you that I will continue to do so with integrity, compassion, humility and honesty.
“When we created our 15-point manifesto more than a year ago, it was in consultation with you to discuss your fears and concerns but more so your hopes and dreams. Our manifesto addresses all your concerns in a sensible, practical and efficient manner that takes into account our current economic conditions but also considers future economic development and prosperity. I can assure you that my team and I are unabated in our commitment to you and will work relentlessly to ensure that every goal listed in our declaration is achieved and importantly, that you attain financial freedom,” President Masisi said of the BDP’s victory.
“The BDP-led government will lead the country on a renewed path of economic transformation and create jobs that will roll back the scourge of poverty, through various initiatives as outlined in our growth strategy, which will focus on increasing employment opportunities and creating suitable jobs for our young people, particularly our graduates,” he continued. He further appealed to opposition leaders to accept the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) decision which clearly saw the BDP as the nation’s preferred political party of choice.
“As the Leader of State, I appeal to the opposition leaders and their supporters to accept the BIEC ruling and to bear in mind that Botswana is a peaceful, non-violent, respectful and humble nation and that political interference to change our culture for political gain will not be tolerated,” President Masisi added. “I appreciate that it is vital for any country to have strong political opposition to ensure the ruling party is kept on its toes to that ensure that Botswana and her people are always government’s main priority. Under my leadership, I appeal to government, as a multi-party collective, to play a far greater role in supporting, developing and uplifting Batswana. By putting our people first, Botswana will soon claim its rightful position as the gem of Africa,” concluded President Masisi.
The BDP manifesto, which will continue to be seen as a blueprint for Botswana’s development, includes: Creating meaningful and sustainable jobs; Fighting corruption; Nurturing inclusive government; Guaranteeing free media; Reviewing our constitution and policies; Improving education and training; Driving knowledge-based economy; Growing the private sector; Empowering SMEs; Updating land tenure laws; Improving working conditions; Ensuring robust services delivery; Providing quality healthcare; Revamping social development; and Attracting local and international investors.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.