The interim leader of newly formed political party, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), Biggie Butale has made revelations that they are aware of a conspiracy by the ruling party to collude with Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to tamper with the voters roll in order to influence the 2019 general elections outcome.
Butale who left the ruling party amid protracted acrimonious relationship with Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leader Mokgweetsi Masisi, said they can authoritatively reveal that such plans have been put in place by the ruling party because of their fear of losing elections.
“We have credible intelligence, that some people have been approached at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to fiddle with the electoral roll especially during the transfers’ period. For now I do not know which constituencies are being targeted; and how many people are going to be moved around,” Butale told WeekendPost on Thursday.
“You all know that a senior BDP official did register people with IEC in their absence. He was sending the people’s names and ID numbers and people were registered in their absence.” Butale said if there is already a case which point out that BDP officials interfered with the IEC registration, nobody should have confidence that the 2019 general elections will be free and fair. “We are watching and we will not accept any kind of rigging. We know what they are up to. We hope they will not alter the voters roll in any way that will be prejudicial to any political party. We will not accept that,” said Butale.
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MOTSEPES
The have been reports that the newly formed BPF is being backed financially by rich individuals such as South African billionaire, Patrice Motsepe. Motsepe, who is close to the Khama family has however denied his involvement in Botswana politics after being accused of interfering with Botswana’s politics with the intention of effecting regime changed.
“For now they [Motsepes] are not funding us. But I always see people implying that if they did fund us, it is illegal or it is immoral. We will source funds everywhere,” said Butale. “Talking about political funding, a lot of business in Gaborone are being intimidated so that they do not fund us. But we will source funding from wherever. It does not mean this will strangle us.”
GUMA WILL JOIN THE PARTY
The Tati West legislator also revealed to this publication that the self-exiled Tati East legislator, Samson Moyo Guma will join the BPF in near future. “Guma Moyo is still with us, though he has not communicated when he is going to be back in the country,” assured Butale. Guma fled the country in March this year, alleging that he had been tipped by security sources that his life was in danger. He has reportedly been staying in South Africa. The outspoken legislator is believed to have been working behind the scenes in ensuring that the party found its feet.
BPF, just like any other political formation has the responsibility of revealing to potential voters what they stand for. Although BPF split from BDP, Butale believes ideologically, the party differs with the ruling party. “We stand for social justice. We believe in equal opportunities for all citizens. Equal opportunities in terms of distribution of wealth.”
MASISI LEADERSHIP SPLIT THE BDP
The former junior minister in both President Lt Gen Ian Khama administration and Masisi’s, believes the latter acted in a manner that led to the split of the ruling party. Butale said Masisi failed to ensure fairness and acted in a manner that promoted favouritism, corruption and regionalism.
“If Masisi had fought corruption genuinely, without amassing farms and other properties for himself overnight ever since he became president. If he had made appointment to senior positions on merit; not on where somebody comes from; if he had not been appointing old people to ambassadorial positions. If he had been running the party effectively. If he was not supporting gays, if he was not removing Religious Education from the syllabus, they would have been no need to form a new party,” said Butale.
“A lot of things happened. We have been thrown into a chaotic dispensation by the current president. I think he [Masisi] is grossly incompetent, and he must go, as soon as yesterday.” Butale who lost Tati West in the party primary elections believes BDP voters roll was fiddled with in the run-up to the elections, and that those who were targeted were made to lose elections.
He noted that when Tsholetsa House postponed elections amid reports of meddling with the voters roll, the conspirators used that opportunity to tamper with the voters roll, therefore interfering with the outcome of elections in various constituencies. Butale lost his constituency to Simon Mavange, the party Youth Wing leader believed to be Masisi’s favourite.
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).