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.
Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).
Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model. BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.
“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.
Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.
Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board. However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.
He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.
“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).
“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.
“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.
Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.
“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.
“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.
WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs. High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.
Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.
The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.
“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.
As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.
“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.
Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.
“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.
The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.
“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.
BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.
“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.
Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.
In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.
“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.
The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.
“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”