Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Advocate Duma Boko has revealed that his party has rejected and will continue to snub local businessmen who pledge to assist the party financially ahead of the highly anticipated October general elections.
Boko told the media this week that he has been approached on numerous occasions by the local business community volunteering to help the UDC with funds. However, according to the UDC leader, this financial help either comes with expectations or it is done in bad faith. This, he says, he deliberately and unashamedly rejected because their help comes up with conditions which he cannot abide by.
“Most of their assistance comes up with conditions and I will never accept anything from them. I will traverse the world seeking assistance from international donors, not sponsors because they do not want anything after assisting you. Besides when you ask them their monies are regulated by international authorities,” Boko told media in press briefing this week.
The UDC leader said, in some instances, the donors give millions to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) only to offer UDC peanuts, a gesture which Boko believes it is done in bad faith. The UDC for now through Boko, will continue with their last elections formula of sourcing funds from international community to assist in wresting the BDP out of power. Already the party has agreed on centralising sourcing of fund with Boko as the face of the project.
The party believes should they get assistance from the local businessmen it will compromise their governance post October should they win. “There are conditions from them that is why even the BDP is failing to crack the whip because they were assisted by the same. And as the UDC we want to sanitize this country after October so we want to do so freely. We want to get rid of corruption and we don’t want to be compromised in situations when we ask someone to account for his wealth, No,” Boko said.
For now Boko said he is aware of a number of businessmen who are flocking to assist BDP, threatening to reveal their names. “We know a lot of things including who is being assisted by whom and by how much, if we want to reveal we can, but we as the UDC we want to remain clean of this mess,” he said.
BOKO LAUNCHES CRUSADE AGAINST DWINDLING DEMOCRACY
The UDC leader who also made it clear at the briefing that he supports former President Ian Khama’s decision to grant international media interviews — which some believe tarnish the image of the country— says he is going to do the same. “There is no crisis in Botswana and Khama has the right to freedom of expression. I did the same interviews in the past because we were not given opportunity on state media and even this time around I will continue to. So there is nothing wrong with what Khama is doing,” he said.
Boko continued to add that he is not happy with the way state apparatus are being used to frustrate democracy, something which is at variance with the country’s reputation. “IEC for example is a useless body. Go and tell them that. It is either they are incompetent or complicit in what they are doing and not only them but whole others. Soon I will be going to USA and I am going to tell them about the deteriorating democracy levels in Botswana. From there I will visit Westminster democracy foundation at the United Kingdom to also preach the same message,” he said.
UDC ENGAGES EXPERTS ON LIFTING OF THE HUNTING BAN
The ongoing hot potato of lifting the hunting ban which has attracted much commentary and criticism across the globe has called the UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) to call experts to give fair appraisal. “Hunting ban does not give us a durable solution. UDC will engage experts to this issue to find a sustainable and durable solution to this challenge,” president Boko told journalists.
However Boko believes that whoever is attacked or threatened by an animal should defend themselves as the constitution dictates on Section 4 which talks about protection of life. “Government should also compensate to the full quantum of loss in case a wild-animal demolished crops or any other damage.”
UDC TO RECONFINGURE PARASTATALS, MINISTRIES
The UDC NEC has also agreed to form a transitional team as the party cannot “inherit incompetent institutions dominated by corrupt BDP cadres post elections.” The idea of forming a transition team is to reconfigure the executive arm of the government which Boko says is bloated. “18 ministers and 10 assistants for a 2 million population? He asked rhetorically and added, “We have executive larger than the backbench and that is subversion of democracy.”
The team will propose a linear, more dynamic, efficient and agile cabinet for UDC. “It will also re-organise public service by advising on the size of cabinet and names of different ministries.” According to Boko, ministries will be run like corporate entities where there would be CEO, COO and HR manager to ensure efficiency of the ministries.
The transitional team will comprise of skilled personnel determined by the three presidents of UDC’s constituent parties who will also advise on the composition of the team.“Some of the team members will be revealed while others will not because they are embedded in the high civil service and naming might compromise their jobs,” he said.
NO FORMAL AGREEMNENT BETWEEN UDC, KHAMA
Boko also disclosed that as the NEC of the UDC, they have not had any formal agreement with former president Khama. “I have met with him. I wanted to remind him what I told him in 2014 when I became the leader of opposition. But there was nothing formal [agreed],” he said. ‘He expressed his desire to have me representing him in court against government. He did so because he believes in my capabilities,”
Boko continued; “People value interaction as it is a part of socialization and if he (Khama) comes with soup to my constituency I will encourage and assist him. He was able to understand this dynamic of dealing with people at that level and it is not cooperation but interaction.”
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.