Former cabinet minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has denied reports linking her to the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), reiterating that she remains a member of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
As the BPF hosts its inaugural party congress in the village of Kanye today, Venson-Moitoi was touted as among possible individuals to take up the leadership of the infant party. Venson-Moitoi’s inability to take up any role in the BPF has left interim leader, Tati West lawmaker Biggie Butale as the man who will be the touch bearer for the part. “I am a BDP card holding member and I have never submitted my name for consideration at BPF. If you were at Parliament yesterday you would have noticed my sitting arrangement that I still remain BDP until otherwise,” Venson-Moitoi said.
“If I decide anything I will obviously let you and the general public know. Venson-Moitoi would however decline to answer a question on how she would react should the BPF confront her.” Despite Venson-Moitoi clinging to BDP, it is alleged that she has extended her blessings to the new party and her long-time friend former President Lt Gen Ian Khama. Last week it was reported that the new party was divided over who should take up the leadership of the party.
Reports indicated that the party’s godfather, Khama favoured Butale to continue with the leadership of the party, while the party’s strong hold of Serowe wanted Venson-Moitoi to be coaxed to join and lead the party. Butale has been always on the forefront of the new party alongside Khama and Specially Elected councillor, Roseline Panzirah-Matshome. It is alleged that some party members were opting for Venson-Moitoi to lead the new party owing to her vast experience dating back to her days in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party to date.
Venson-Moitoi was first elected as Member of Parliament in 1999, under Specially Elected dispensation during the presidency of Festus Mogae and would later successfully contest the 2004 elections after beating Tebelelo Seretse in Serowe South primary elections. Venson-Moitoi has maintained the constituency to date totalling her years in Parliament to 20 years, a female MP record only bettered by one of her predecessors at the constituency, Dr Gaositwe Chiepe.
Dr Gaositwe Chiepe who served for 25 years (22 years of which she was Serowe South MP) as a legislator, from 1974 until 1999. This publication has been informed that Venson-Moitoi who is not seeking re-election to parliament in October, has communicated her position with the new party that she is staying put at BDP.
“Ever since she suffered humiliation at the BDP Kang Special Congress in April where she had showered interests in challenging President Masisi and later withdrawing at the eleventh hour, Moitoi has kept a low profile and is very reluctant to join the new party. But we remain optimistic that she will join at a later stage,” said a source. BPF held their first press conference this week, which was addressed by Butale, Roseline Panzirah-Matshome and Khama.
At the press conference Butale said the ongoing congress is an elective congress and party members will contest various positions within the executive committee. However, reports indicate that Tati East legislator Samson Moyo Guma who has since been expelled from the BDP and fled the country amid assassinations attempts earlier this year, will not make it to Kanye. Guma has been associated with the party Chairman position while Pansirah- Matshome is linked with position of Secretary General.
It is not yet clear when Guma will join as he is reported to be in neighbouring South Africa but has confirmed that he will contest his constituency under the new party. Guma a maverick politician, was expected to take centre stage in Kanye today and direct the new political party policies and manifesto. Another source said despite Moitoi not joining now, surprise can be expected at Kanye today as one or two familiar faces will be unveiled.
The party has adopted the blue colour to be used in their clothing branding and the yellow colour to be used as the party colour during the general elections this year. The party has also unveiled a clock as their official party logo with the slogan ‘Ke Nako’. The former President Ian Khama who addressed the media for the first time said his role in the new party will be articulated at the congress today.
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.
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
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.
“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).