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Khama supports Butale for BPF presidency

Former President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama has no choice but to side with Biggie Butale for the leadership of Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). This comes after the more experienced Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi could not raise her hand and join the new party.

Butale, a recently suspended Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) member and Member of Parliament for Tati West has been at the forefront of the formation of the party. “He has been running the affairs of the party together with Roseline Panzirah-Matshome and from a distance Samson Moyo Guma. The influence of the trio has had other would-be members being sidelined,” said a source within the BPF.

“The choice of Butale over Venson-Moitoi is raising worries that a party in its early formation will lose credibility.  Not long before Khama was backing Venson-Motoi, and to now switch to Butale without explanation has gotten many to be disillusioned.” The belief within the majority of the BPF members is that Venson-Moitoi has been on a campaign since December vying for the BDP leadership; therefore it would make sense to continue with her and ride on her momentum. They want her lured to the party.

They also point to her experience as an administrator, Member of Parliament and Cabinet as qualities that can be used to sell her to voters.  “At her age she can be seen as unifier than a longtime office bearer thereby giving space for other future leaders to be groomed.
Some in the party believe Butale’s leadership style is already of concern.  He is thought to be combative, and doesn’t allow for consultation.  As it is, nobody knows basic information of the party, where the offices are, who is coordinating things, and even how delegates are going to get to Kanye,” said a concerned party member.

All this they blame on Butale who seems to have centered everything on himself, it is said. One former MP stated that: “Khama is making the same mistakes he made with Masisi.  Khama is a nice person, but he is naïve.  Taking an unpopular, leader and imposing him on people.  What he Khama often sees in these people, only him knows.” “Again, Butale is being used just like he got Mpho Balopi from obscurity and made him Secretary General of the party. 

The result – division within the party he Khama left in the BDP and a decline in popularity. As a matter of fact, we are grateful for some of his initiatives together with Roseline to get things going for BPF.  But let them be assigned appropriate responsibilities that match their skills set and capacity for now.  Biggie Butale will have time to lead the BPF at an opportune time, but now is not the right time.” The source went further to say that often Khama chooses people for his own interests rather than that of the collective or the organisation.  

Another cause of concern for the party is the insistence of Khama and Butale to hold inaugural elections at the upcoming congress in Kanye.  Many within the party say the party is not ready for elections, and that besides the elections outcome will divide the party.  They hold a view that what the party should be aiming for is an interim arrangement, one that allows for proper building of party infrastructure, procedures and processes. “Let’s learn to walk before we start running. As it we are beseeched with many elementary problems, an internal election is not and should not be a priority.”

“We however feel the momentum with BPF.  We are the talk of town. While we may not win all constituencies, we are certainly sure we are going to make a dent on the electoral space.  We are going to make sure BDP is not returning to power, and we are comfortable in having coalition pact run the next government of Botswana.  “We will win the combined Central and the North, and have UDC bring in the South to form a new government after the elections.  And we do not fear a Boko Presidency.”

Contacted for comment, Venson-Moitoi dismissed the allegations that she has interest in BPF presidency. “I have never said to anybody that I want to be president of the BPF. I never sought residency at BPF. I still have my BDP membership,” she said. For his part, Khama indicated that he is surprised at the allegations. “BPF is a democratic party which does not belong to an individual. Its office bearers are elected by the people at a constituted congress where delegates are at liberty to nominate anyone of their choice.”

Meanwhile Butale did not dispute the allegations of divisions within the party, but noted that, “In a party setup there will always be misunderstandings. And misunderstandings do not mean fights.” Party spokesperson Panzirah-Matshome only said, “The people shall choose their leadership on July 6 in Kanye, not Khama.”

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

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.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

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

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

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.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“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).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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