A collective of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary candidates for the October elections have ran out of patience and demanded that the party leadership release monies secured from investors to assist them with the campaigns ahead of highly anticipated elections, WeekendPost has established.
Records compiled at the last month’s closed meeting of the BDP in Mmokolodi depicted a party going into this election with doubts and has a deep-seated fear for the opposition. It is apparent from the evidence before this publication that the BDP is wary of the uncertainties they face in the upcoming elections. In a startling revelation, Masisi told the candidates that he has been approaching the business community for possible funding and was glad to tell them that he has received a lump sum of cash from investors.
“We have received pulas for campaign and we are going to test you. All who are here you will get something those who are not present won’t get anything. You must be disciplined. I don’t want to see the attitude for the past five years which has worsened now to an extent that you tell our rivals how we operate,” he said
Masisi also said he was happy that the likes of party treasure Satar Dada, Indians and Chinese investors assisted the party. “If they got all the money legally like we know our treasure is doing and whoever you know it could be Koreans or Africans if it is clean then there is nothing wrong.”
He further told the democrats that the BDP was broke. “This party was P50 million on the red. The banks are not willing to lend us money, we have to rely on being transparent. Dada gave us 60 cars, we would have not managed this if it was not Dada and use these cars wisely they are not yours they are for constituencies and for party.”
With President having promised the candidates what the investors has pumped in the party, candidates have started to demand to be given what they have been promised to start-off the campaigns. Compilations by the party members to the leadership show that the candidates are aware that indeed money can buy success. “The UDC is buying everything for anybody and everybody. Youth and the poor are the easy target. I don’t have the money to match them pound to pound,” one senior minister voiced out his frustrations. One rookie minister also added, “Le rona rraetsho re tlhasetswe (We are also under attack).
According to observers, this has been concealed for long and the party members who are feeling the pinch believes it is high time they tell the leadership about the precarious situation they are in. For some candidates who wanted the issue to remain closed they met resistance from some of their colleagues. “Money is the mother’s milk of politics honourable. You just have to follow American politics as a case study.” quipped one candidate who is seeking parliamentary seat in Gaborone. One MP who dismissed money power saying it is “poison in the mother’s milk,” was told point blank that, “If that was the case candidates here wouldn’t be crying for campaign materials.
One MP who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity said this when asked about funding matter: “I have my own self sponsored branding material. The party is trying all the best it could however we have to remember members have to raise for the party. All political parties have issues with funding but then we all have to go through the elections somehow. It’s not easy but we do all we could to keep up with a well-funded opposition,” he said.
Masisi when closing the same retreat last month said: “I want to inform you what the party has done for you. We are expecting before Vice President’s launch another trench of t-shirts .Every constituency will have 10,000 t shirts don’t worry about our visibility. Every constituency will also have 3000 umbrellas, there will be more umbrellas in BDP than in umbrella, deliberately so. Bandana for the youth and caps will be 2500 as well as flags. There is a lot we are getting from the goodwill.” On the other hand members says they are yet to receive those as they only got the initial 5000 t-shirts when parliament was still on in March.
However fast forward to now the candidates are yet to receive such. It is pointed out that some of the donors condition was that the money be used to fight opposition-held constituencies; while others said the money be used on marginal constituencies while the other gave the money with no conditions. For his part Vice President Slumber Tsogwane who had no answers to the candidates but equally perturbed by their remarks entered the fray.
“Hard work pays not money. Caution our people about dirty money and educate them that it is only up to October such a faceless money will be no more. What is important is to look after our dedicated campaign teams get them trained and target registered voters. Thank you we must all adopt the same attitude don’t be scared and do things that ordinarily are less expected of you.” It seems the situation is so pathetic to an extent that some of the candidates especially those with a thin financial muscle are failing to match their rivals and no longer chicken out to face off with their leaders.
“Bagaetsho we are unable to have dedicated campaign teams because most of the people we use for the campaigns are not working and therefore they are not volunteering they want to be paid, so assist us,” one Gaborone contestant responded Tsogwane. The schedule of candidates launch released this week was also as a result of pressure from the candidates who wanted to know when they will be launched. Others even went to ask party Secretary General Mpho Balopi to avail billboards at their constituencies for visibility.
Masisi when addressing the candidates last month also revealed that he is expecting more money around September. “So everyone will be receiving something to give you a boost and a push. So share the money amongst yourselves. All who are here will get something those who are not ba jelwe,” he said.
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.