Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) ‘strategists’ have advised the party to place as a matter of urgency, a motion calling for amendments of Presidents (Pensions and Retirement Benefits) Act package which the same party championed its adjustment barely two years ago.
The BDP in 2017 through the then Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale tabled a bill in Parliament giving President Ian Khama a 30 percent gratuity, among a raft of other generous rewards. However, the party is now regretting the decision and President Mokgweetsi Masisi has admitted and apologised to opposition legislators who were against the motion.
Owing to the fall-out between Masisi and his predecessor, the party’s scheme plotters have advised the party on amending the retirement package. At the top of their qualms, the advisors say presidents [In this case-Khama’s] retirement benefit package was generous, lucrative and lustful and should be adjusted. The party wants his modes of transport trimmed.
“Of most significance for now is the transport. The former can access any mode of transport he wants at the liberty of the sitting president. But remember when the current refuses it is blown out of proportion. So the agreement is there should be specific modes of transport that the former presidents are given to avoid rift,” says an informant who is very close to the developments this week.
The party, a source says, is perturbed by the former’s (Khama) travel around the country which they say will de-campaign them in various constituencies, a fact that he has never denied. The MPs want to table an urgent motion at the upcoming parliamentary session expected to commence on the 3rd of next month. The party strategists for now are not concerned by his salary nor residence or office but “want him to have access only to a road while a managed flight will be availed only on international trips.”
The other issue which even President Masisi conceded recently, is that Khama is now politically active. “It should be scrapped from this Act that the former president could work especially in active politics. The concern is Khama is busy politicking and in the process dismissing his former party and it is a lesson that the party has bitterly swallowed but wants to rectify the mistake,” revealed a source on Tuesday this week.
Of late Khama has made it clear that he will endorse parliamentary candidates that are honest to him and is reported to be a member of the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). When contacted for comment, BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi said: “I am not part of the party’s legislative block but we work through caucus where motions are discussed by the party Chairman and president and other members.
Once the caucus meet and discuss the motion I will be able to confirm or deny what you are saying. Members place the motion at the party office which then presents them to caucus before they can reach parliament.” The proposed motion is likely to meet a strong resistance from dissenting MPs sympathetic to Khama. A number of BDP MPs are likely not to support the motion because of a number of reasons. Some are aligned to Khama while others are just frustrated with the way the party is run, the source argued. At least 10 BDP legislators will not vote for the motion according to source.
MASISI APOLOGISES FOR KHAMA’S BENEFITS
According to Masisi, at the time opposition MPs warned against the idea to please Khama but he and other ruling members of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) turned a blind eye. Tendering his apology to the nation, Masisi said: "I owe you and the opposition an apology. We made a mistake on Khama. We apologize for not listening to the opposition. It is sad. We thought it would never be like this. We thought the assurance that once I (in reference to Khama) am allowed to work I will not destabilise the government and this is a total somersault."
The President reiterated that, "we made a mistake in the passing of the amendments to the former Presidents Benefits Act. We made a mistake taking it that when the Presidents retired they will not work. If they did their benefits were to be withdrawn; work is much influence."
Masisi revealed that had they not made the "big mistake we would be withdrawing all benefits for former President Khama if he works because he is retired and should not be working as per the previous retired Presidents benefit." According to Masisi "this is not a personal issue. If that leverage was there we would take back all the benefits he has but we changed the law for him."
Masisi further stated that "We made a very big mistake. I'm the first to admit it, a very big mistake. Because if that leverage was still there we would withdraw all the benefits that former President Khama has for engaging in politics again because he has retired."
Masisi also informed the nation that "Let me tell you that part of the reason I have refused to allow him (Khama) to use the chopper sometime was because in my view and assessment those trips were not as necessary as the government work that was to be done."
Masisi said, "I concluded that because he is in retirement; he is not a priority in terms of work. He is not in terms of work. You know moving soldiers to training or moving that and that is the priority of running the government. So please don't trivialize this thing. It's serious." Masisi also warned the nation that "If you want him (Khama) to return to the State House like he says he wants to come back as a retiree, have him and good luck. He will teach you a lesson."
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.