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Tsogwane reconciles Masimolole, BDP

Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, who is also the Chairperson of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has coaxed the former Mogoditshane legislator Patrick Masimolole, to bury the hatchet and not sue the party. 

 

Masimolole, who controversially lost twice in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) primary elections, met with the party leadership this week in the constituency in a meeting aimed at him (Masimolole) and the party smoking a peace pipe. Since 2017, Masimolole and the BDP-which he represented for ten years in parliament-have reached a low ebb, citing primary elections irregularities. From the meeting which was very ‘fruitful’ according to informants, it was agreed that Masimolole will endorse the party’s candidate ‘Tumiso Chillyboy’ Rakgare in Mogoditshane. In a closely contested election in 2014, Masimolole lost the constituency to Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s Sedirwa Kgoroba (now Alliance for Progressive). Kgoroba garnered 4 180, while Rakgare of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) came second with 3 846, and Masimolole was last with 3 787.

 

The BDP believes if the two (Rakgare & Masimolole) were to combine numbers, they could land themselves a constituency they desperately need in October, hence Tsogwane pulled up his socks for the meeting to materialize.  The Tuesday meeting follows a series of attempts by the party to meet with Masimolole, who was seeking redress at the courts of law. “Yes we had a collegial meeting and Masimolole showed that he will support Rakgare and I can confirm that we are pulling together. Rakgare was also present at the meeting. I can also confirm that we don’t have any case with him at the courts,” BDP Executive Secretary Ame Makoba said in an interview, refusing to shed more light on who attended the evening setting. It is said the meeting was attended by some of the Tsholetsa House bigwigs including party Secretary General Mpho Balopi. 

 

Masimolole, lost in BDP primary elections during the time Tshepang Mabaila was suspended last year, when he was battling it out with Tumiso ‘Chillyboy’ Rakgare. He got 462 votes while Rakgare got 619. In court documents filed through attorneys Monthe Marumo and Company earlier this year, Masimolole said the primary elections were held in an unfair manner.According to his lawyers, the election roll that was used for the primary elections was tempered with and in fact there were two different voter rolls. The BDP rolls closed on or before June 2017. The roll used for the conduct of primary elections was not the one which was closed on or before June 2017. It contained some names of well-known Botswana Congress Party (BCP) activists including, Phagenyana Phage, this is according to the lawyers papers.

 

But this is now water under the bridge following the meeting this week. “Yes we met but for now I can’t say anything much, except to tell you that the relationship has improved and Masimolole will now support us in the constituency. We need him in the area because he has been there and he has numbers and secondly we need his goodwill and we are glad he is back,” Rakgare said in an interview regarding this matter. For his side Masimolole when contacted on Wednesday evening about the reconciliatory meeting he declined to comment further. “You can talk to VP’s office that is what we have agreed on; that he will speak since he is the chairman of the party, but yes there was a meeting. If VP gives you a greenlight to engage me then it is okay,” he said through a telephone call. Tsogwane could not be reached for comment, as the call was not going through.

 

Furthermore, Masimolole, while dragging the party to court also argued that the winning candidate, Rakgare was not even in the voters’ roll for the BDP at the cut-off date of June 2017.  “As a candidate, our client was not given a copy of the voters’ roll when clearly as an interested party, he ought to have had one for verification purposes. In consequence, in the three wards, the voters’ roll had a substantial number of BCP member names, who registered subsequent to June 30th 2017, in particular Nkoyaphiri, Ledumadumane West and Mogoditshane Central,” says Masimolole through his lawyers.

 

This week the BDP in Mogoditshane welcomed to their fold four council members from BCP; Tebogo Seleka, Boniface Motingwa, Pinki Mmesi and David Segone. These have left the party licking lips for the constituency and believe that after-all they might take the constituency. Overall from the last elections, the BDP has taken seven out of 10 BCP council candidates from 2014 elections.   

 

BDP SETS STANDARD FOR CANDIDATES

Meanwhile, the party has issued a communique to all branch secretaries, regional secretaries, as well as parliamentary candidates, that they should up their game regarding their launches. “The parliamentary candidate is expected to forward their profile detailing their community and political involvement together with issues that they would like the guest speaker to touch on. This should be done by Tuesday of the week of the launch,” read the letter. It is said this stance by the party emanates from a number of launches that were not well coordinated which irks the party leadership. “You are expected to provide two mobile toilets to be placed at the venue. Inform the District Commissioner and the Police Chief about the VP and HE’s presence in the area. The choice of MC should be a seasoned politician who should understand the party and the protocols.”

 

The letter signed by the party Secretary General Mpho Balopi, also ordered that a member of Communications and International Relations Sub Committee and a Secretariat officer, were deployed to the region to coordinate with the MP candidate and the Branch Secretary. The party will continue to launch their parliamentary candidate as they prepare for the general elections scheduled for October.

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Botswana confirms new COVID-19 variant

17th May 2021
covid19

Botswana health officials have confirmed the new COVOD-19 variant, which was first found in India. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has through a press statement informed members of the public that a new COVID-19 variant (B.1.617), first discovered in India. The Indian variant was confirmed in Botswana on 13 May 2021.

According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.

“As at 16 May 2021, the B. 1. 617 variant was confirmed in two (2) people. The clients are currently receiving medical care and remain stable with no life-threatening symptoms. The two (2) cases were part of 383 people (both Batswana and some Indian nationals) who were tested for COVID-19. From this number, 43 tested positive, with two (2) showing the B. 1. 617 variant as already alluded to. Contact tracing has been expanded in line with COVID-19 protocols. All contacts and confirmed cases have been evacuated to facility based quarantine and isolation respectively, for close monitoring,” Nyanga narrated.

The World Health Organization recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.

Meanwhile in the wake of Botswana’s confirmation of the Indian variant, Nyanga reminded the public of the government intervention to control the introduction of new variants of public health concern into the country. He stated that all those who have travelled or transited through areas of high risk as previously communicated on 3rd May 2021 upon return shall immediately quarantine in a central area to be identified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness for a period not exceeding ten (10) days; Repeat Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after seven (7) days of quarantine and be discharged as per the outcome of the results.

He said the requirements are complementary to the mandatory requirements of producing on arrival a negative PCR test not older than 72hrs from the time the sample was collected

“The public is advised to remain vigilant and minimize the spread of COVID-19 by following the already outlined preventative measures such as washing of hands with soap or use of a hand sanitizer, wearing of face masks, avoiding crowded places/social distancing and avoiding non-essential movement,” Nyanga said.

The India variant – officially called B.1.617.2 – is one of four mutated versions of coronavirus which have been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

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Khama lawyers dismiss BDP’s MacD

17th May 2021
former President Lt Gen Ian Khama

The lawyers representing former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, Ramalepa Attorneys have come forth dismissing a response letter penned down by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activist MacDonald Peloetletse after he was slapped with a P1.5 million lawsuit for defamation of their client.

Tebogo Tladi, an attorney at Ramalepa, said last week Thursday Peloetletse took to social media to publish a substantively false, wrongful and unlawful statement about Khama. MacDonald Peloetletse’s commentary which was posted on Gabz FM News page reads, “I am a former soldier. Everything former President SKI Khama said here is a LIE. In fact, soldiers suffered more under Khama than under his predecessors.

He actually stole money that the UN had paid to the soldiers who went for the operations and paid them less than a quarter of what was actually due to them.  “Unhappy soldiers took the BDF to court and won, the BDF is still struggling to pay the debts! Khama can fool some people, but not all the people and not all the time.

“In fact many soldiers, serving, retired and those that resigned and were in the operations during Khama’s time get even more annoyed to such disrespectful statements by Ian Khama.” Khama’s lawyer says the impugned statement was published with the intention to injure his client (Khama) in his personality rights, good name and dignity, further indicating that the statement has damaged his good reputation.

“We have therefore been instructed by Client to demand, as we hereby do, that you publish on the same forum a retraction and a full and unconditional apology to Client within three days of receipt of this letter- and that you deliver such apology in a formal letter to the Office of the Former President, Dr Khama. In the event that you have not compiled with this demand by close of business on Monday 10th May 2021, our Client will assume that you have refused to comply with this demand.”

To top it all off, Khama demands that Peloetletse pay him P1.5 million in damages for defamation. “Furthermore, we hold instructions to demand as we hereby do, that you pay our Client damages for defamation in the sum of P1, 500,000.00 within seven days of receipt of this letter.” In the event that Peloetletse fails to pay the amount of damages demanded by Khama, Tladi says they will institute legal proceedings for the recovery of the aforesaid damages.

In his response letter addressed to Ramalepa Attorneys, Peloetletse said that he requests enlightenment and clarification that he be provided with proof that the allegations and comments which they attribute to him were indeed authored by him and that the platform which the comments were placed was not hacked.

“Please also advise if whether your clients has been endowed with a “special particular privilege status” that restricts the citizens of this country from commenting or responding to public statements made by your client in the course of political discourse especially when made on public forum and relate to matters of general public concern. (I trust that your brilliant legal mind is well informed with respect to the jurisprudence in such matters)”.

Peloetletse also said he would like to share with the attorneys a video which was posted on a public forum. “Please listen carefully to the conversations and discussion herein and advice if possibly such discussions form a reasonable basis for a justifiably rebuttal by any Motswana Citizen to the public pronouncements and defamatory statements made by your client about our government (bearing in mind of course a citizens constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression).’’

Consulted for further comment on the matter on Thursday after receiving Peloetletse’s response, Khama’s attorney Tebogo Tladi said the letter doesn’t hold any water. “The only way out for him is to prove the truth of the allegations on his comment or deny publication. He does not answer substantively to the defamation and does not respond to the demand of an apology or payment of damages.

So his letter really contains largely matters irrelevant to the substance of the letter of demand. His response in fact presents no legally cognizable defence at all- it would appear he responded without the benefit of legal advice, which would not be prudent for such an important case. So we will proceed to issue summons and wait to see what defences he will plead in court.’’

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Inside the multi-million Dollar Kazungula Bridge business

17th May 2021
kazungula bridge

Botswana and Zambia this week celebrated the opening of a multi-million Dollar infrastructural project, the Kazungula Bridge, projected to contribute around P100 million annually for Botswana. This project comes after the signing of the 2012 Agreement between the two countries to construct a bridge that would ease movement of goods.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the Kazungula Bridge will open avenues for improved trade, job creation and economic diversification in both countries. Further, the Bridge will significantly accelerate Southern African Development Committee (SADC) regional integration agenda which Botswana and Zambia are vigorously pursuing.

“By growing our strategic partnerships through this project, we have improved the development and competitiveness of our economies to attract more private sector investment, thereby, supporting our efforts to create employment, especially for the burgeoning youth,” Masisi said at the opening ceremony in Kazungula on Monday.

The Kazungula Bridge comprises a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River, directly linking Botswana and Zambia. It has One-Stop-Border Post facilities on both sides, which will enhance the operational efficiency at entry points, replicated on both sides of the boarder.

The Bridge was originally conceived as a critical link in the African North-South Corridor under the African Union’s New Partnership (NEPAD) for Africa’s Development programme. It has since evolved to encompass a multimodal transport plan under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

The PIDA programme, which encompasses liberalisation of air travel, rail links, road, water and all other modes of transport has only one objective: to unite the States of Africa in order to foster trade on the continent

“Connectivity of our nations will in no small measure, promote people to people interactions and uplifts their standard of living. I am pleased to state that the completion of this project is a clear demonstration of our commitment to PIDA.”

The 260 million US Dollar Kazungula Bridge was commissioned by Zambian President, Edgar Lungu and President Masisi. President Lungu said the bridge was a monumental effort linking Zambia internally and externally to ease the movement of goods and services.

“I have held talks with my counterpart in Botswana that this project must run daily up to 22 hours as soon as possible and you the technocrats must not play ping-pong with us after making these public procurements,” Lungu said at the official opening in Kazungula.

For his part, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said the project was tandem with the Africa Union (AU) goals and priority areas for Agenda 2063 which called for a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

KAZUNGULA FERRY

The new Kazungula Bridge replaces the Kazungula Ferry, a pontoon ferry across the 400-metre-wide Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia. It was one of the largest ferries in South-Central Africa, having a capacity of 70 tonnes.

In 2003 the ferry was the site of a disaster when a severely overloaded Zambian truck capsized one of the pontoons and 18 people drowned. The accident was blamed on the lack of weighbridges in Zambia to check the weight of trucks.

In August 2007, the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to construct a bridge at the site to replace the ferry. The existence of a short boundary of about 150 meters between Zambia and Botswana was apparently agreed to during various meetings involving Heads of State and officials from all four States in the 2006-2010 period.

The route for this new bridge crosses the boundary without entering Zimbabwe and Namibia. Zimbabwe already has a bridge into Zambia at Victoria Falls, 70KM from Kazungula. Namibia on the other hand has a bridge into Zambia at Katima Mulilo about 150KM upriver.

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