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 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.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.