The ongoing feud between the former President Ian Khama and incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi needs a presidential museum for documentation to act as a reference point for the future and to see who went off the rails.
This was revealed by members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi this week in Gaborone during their just ended 3rd session of the14th meeting of the House. When presenting the motion, which eventually was passed, specially elected member of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, Kgosi Thabo Maruje III of Masunga said that the dispute between Khama and Masisi is largely owing to the deficit of a presidential museum which should define dialogue.
“A presidential museum will define dialogue. Currently there is a hot dialogue in which people have divergent views (between Masisi and Khama). This is largely because we have a deficiency of a process where anytime we can declassify material which is outdated,” Kgosi Maruje observed. To add onto Kgosi Maruje’s sentiment, Tswapong Region's Kgosi Galeakanye Modise said the presidential museum is essential and surely could be providing an answer to the current disagreement between Khama and Masisi.
“But if there is a process that is well packaged, even the dispute between Masisi and Khama that is happening now, that presidential museum could provide an answer,” Kgosi Modise pointed out while stressing that “it could provide clear references for the dispute.” According to Kgosi Maruje, if this nation can undergo through such a crisis, the nation will hold dikgosi accountable in terms of where they were during such current crisis like that of Masisi and Khama.
Kgosi Maruje’s motion read “that this honourable house requests government to set up a presidential museum which will not only house all matters that have been declassified but also be used as a depository for very important moments in the life of a president, and the decisions they made which will boost researchers, media and the nation at large.”
The nature of the Botswana presidential museum
Kgosi Maruje III of Masunga emphasized during the tabling of the motion that he came up with this motion because Botswana is growing, and so what can do to document every error by every president. “We have to start now as the number of president is evidently increasing. This means that for us not to lose history, time has come for us to erect a very big infrastructure, of a presidential museum which I envision it to be a combination of an integrated facility that will include tourism, research, restaurants, and all the things you can imagine,” he stated.
Maruje said he was looking at the history of Botswana, as Botswana is changing it must have a cardinal point, to show how Botswana is changing, and how the events are linking up. He added that: “repositories of papers, historical moments, irreplaceable items, that the president receives as certain gifts, that are very profound, that even when he dies, relatives doesn’t want to do with these things. They can be taken to the museum to be national monuments. Or the government can pay the families so that he can custody of those crucial items.”
Starting with the founding father Sir Seretse Khama; in terms of those who saw him, lived with him, will tell us how he was; those who knew him and have written about him, from the time of Frontline States to the setting of Organisations of African Union (OAU). He added: “even the time of his controversial marriage with an English woman Ruth Williams against his uncles like Tshekedi Khama can be documented in the museum as well as how he, together with Sir Ketumile Masire, started the multi-party democracy in Botswana.”
The specially elected Kgosi also said the Museum will be also like a library in that, the museum will put together the lives of all Botswana presidents; from the 1st President Khama, 2nd Sir Ketumile Masire, and Festus Mogae who was the third, and Ian Khama the fourth as well as the current President Masisi.
According to Maruje, it also has to come out clear which ideologue is every president following, in running the affairs of the country, or his thinking or ideologues, in terms of is it exclusively his or he learned and probably borrowed it from a predecessor. “This things guide a country.” “The other thing is the culture. Culture we live in is dynamic but how are we using our history for the coming or future presidents to refer to? So that they don’t go off the rails in terms of the presidency? It means how a president has been running the country in terms of the relations, the law, the developments and so forth.”
In addition Botswana is generally poor in keeping records. For example, Maruje asked how they are keeping the records on appointing dikgosi and where, and who are the custodians and are they easily accessible to everyone? Can someone pull a paper to provide evidence in many bogosi disputes that have engulfed this country? He asked rhetorically.
By this time, Maruje said he believes the presidency of Sir Seretse Khama and Sir Ketumile Masire, and the presidency to some part of Festus Mogae, there could be some things that could have been declassified at this point to distinguish between the presidents. According to Kgosi Maruje, Botswana has historical facts that can be packaged and sold as an intervention of leadership somewhere else.
“We will tell other countries that, this is the package of leadership over the years. Through the medium, we will know who was advising either of the presidents; to see how he was taking his decisions; what was happening; what were their challenges and low moments; when was he happy and under what circumstance; how did all these influence the decisions he takes concerning the affairs of the country and so forth.”
The Specially Elected Kgosi said Botswana today has the 5th president being Mokgweetsi Masisi and this is a blessing indeed because in other countries they have known only one president for decades and others undergoing coup de tat. “If you look at the history of the US, who are on their 45th president, if you look at how their presidencies are well documented, and meaning behind every presidential detail, and even every error committed by every one of them – it’s so beautiful,” he said.
Maruje reminisced about a very profound one president of America: the journey he took leading him to the presidency of US. “Many failures that he encountered for many years. He failed at many things but he never gave up, until that one moment in which he tried again and ultimately became the president. That person is Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US president. You see these it is through such records that are there that guides a nation.” The other thing, Maruje said it is leadership experience of a leader being a leader; how does it guide. We need to go back to leadership experience to see in the event of a crisis, who the president consults, and when, he concluded.
Botswana presidents can be a reference point in good governance
Meanwhile Kgosi Galeakanye Modise of Tswapong region who supports the motion said he believes Botswana if unchecked stands a chance to lose the national historical moments. “We can even guide Africa. So that when they have problems they can refer to Botswana. In terms of good governance and democracy benchmarking they can go to Botswana. You will find a package there, through the presidential museum for all that,” he said.
Kgosi Modise also added that he remembers somewhere students arguing about a presidential/national issue in which they had nowhere to refer to so as to settle their disagreement. When Mogae received the Mo Ibrahim award he didn’t know where to put it because there is no presidential museum for such honours on a president, he said.
Museum will reveal which president derails from the foundation in which the country was built on
Supporting the motion, Kgosi Tshipe Tshipe of Mahalapye region added that the presidential museum will define clearly the ideologies of all the presidents. “My believe is that they will unearth where Botswana comes from starting with Sir Seretse where democracy will be revealed in light of the fact that it was built from a traditional Tswana kgotla system which truly defines the true essence of Batswana,” he highlighted.
So this documentation, he observed that could assist the researchers and everyone to point out when a president derails from the foundation in which the country was built on. “In terms of which president derailed. Those who come after the current ones, could therefore use the road map to bring the country to rails, of which it was known for. I also like the advisors to the president part, which is very important. We need to know which advisors helped the president at every move. When we derailed who helped to bring the country back.”
According to Tshipe, history of US shows that during the height of Civil rights activism by Martin Luther King Jr., it took a long time for the US to see a black president thereafter. “But when Barack Obama took power as US president, and when you pay closer attention to what he said, he could see that he adopted Luther’s ideologue. Luther guided Obama. What Luther fought for, to see justice to the blacks, was evident in Obama and what he also frequently spoke of,” he said.
In her answer to the motion, Assistant Minister of local Government and Rural Development Botlogile Tshireletso said the concept of a presidential museum is an accepted norm and standard in the world. In principle, she said “as government we agree with the motion and its intent but the motion’s intent is also covered by the Botswana National Archives and Records Services Act.” He however added that he will also take into consideration issues raised by Kgosi Masunga and seconders of his motion so that the Minister can act and see to it that if there is need for amendments of the Act, to consider their views as there are important.
The Tshesebe-Mosojane-Masunga road estimated costs stand at P500 million, the tender which was awarded to Bash Carriers in 2017 has not taken shape four years after the project was commissioned.
Tshesebe-Mosojane-Masunga road when it was commissioned, was estimated at P500 million in value, this included construction of 22.50km of the two lane carriage way and 28.70km of access roads including associated bridge works, cross drainage works, storm water drainage works and relocation of services.
When it was first tendered the contract was awarded to Bash Couriers but was terminated after it was alleged that the contractor failed to deliver. It was said that Bash Couriers Construction Company was lagging behind schedule.
This publication visited the sites of Tshesebe-Masunga road last year December and it was evident that the project was at a standstill as deserted machinery on site could be seen with the gravel road also in a devastating state.
Information revealed then indicated that there had been issues of mining rights for aggregates, availability of structural engineers and manpower and a criteria for awarding tender to the specific company when the contract was terminated.
In 2016, as part of the ESP projects, government funded the 25 kilometres (Km) road project to link Tshesebe and Masunga.
Construction of the road, which also connects some of the villages within the district, commenced early in 2016 and was scheduled to be completed within 18 months.
The company had done nothing when their contract was terminated with allegations that it never had the capacity to carry out the project in the first place.
The major ESP project had ultimately robbed a lot of people potential employment when it succumbed to termination.
It was then that the government restarted the tendering process.
The project was awarded to Bango Trading Company and Zebra Construction in a joint venture at a value of P319 Million Pula.
However, information reaching this publication from the Ministry of Transport and Communications confirms that indeed there are no current works carried out on the Tshesebe Masunga road.
Responding to a questionnaire sent to them by this publication through their Public Relations Officer Doreen Moapare, the Ministry indicated that the Tshesebe-Masunga road project is before the courts therefore their response is limited by such a pending outcome.
“As a background the project had been awarded to Bash Carriers at a contract sum of P400, 044,365.68 to begin the works in May 2017 and complete the project in January 2019. Scopes of works included 51.2km main road inclusive of seven access roads. Due to non-performance, Bash Carriers contract was terminated on the 25th of September 2018. ”
Further, Moapare indicated that upon termination of Bash Carriers, a process began to ensure that the development project completes.
Five companies went for a selective tendering bid which she listed as; Lobkom Investments (Pty) Ltd, Landmark (Pty) Ltd and Truck Hire (Pty) Ltd Joint venture, ACE /Excavator Hire (Pty) Ltd and Asphalt Botswana (Pty) Ltd Joint venture, Cul De Sac, Bango Trading and Zebra Construction Joint venture.
“Some companies have since queried the results of the tendering adjudication landing the issue in the courts. We are currently awaiting a ruling expected in February/March 2021, and this will determine the course of action thereafter,” concluded Moapare.
At one point last year, reports indicated that Bango Trading Construction Company had faced raiding by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security, Botswana Police and Botswana Unified Revenue Services, with allegations that there was an emerging pattern targeting overscheduled construction companies with powerful political connections.
Bango Trading Managing Director, Moffat James, was reported to have had close links to former DIS Director Isaac Seabelo Kgosi. Bango Trading and Estate Construction Company which has obtained close to P 1, 5 billion government contracts under former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has been the subject of a parliamentary probe due to the many government contracts awarded to them.
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.