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Serowe MPs walking on a tight rope

Two Serowe legislators, Kgotla Autlwetse (Serowe North) and Lesedi Phuthego (Serowe South) are skating on thin ice in their parliamentary race for the incoming 2019 General Elections. The two areas, together with Serowe West under Tshekedi Khama are the heartland of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in the Central District.

Both Tshekedi Khama and Botswana’s fourth president Ian Khama are sons to the BDP’s founding and foremost leader Sir Seretse Khama. The Khama’s emerge from Serowe village while both Sir Seretse and Ian were successive paramount chiefs in the Bangwato area. The incumbent paramount chief, Khama last week officially quit the party after long differences with the current party and country President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Upon resigning from the party at his second meeting with his subjects at Serowe Showgrounds, the Bangwato chief implored the tribesmen – in what he described as a BDP stronghold area – to also jump ship. Both of the three Serowe BDP candidates were not on sight at the two Khama meetings which he said were Bangwato tribe gatherings. A new party, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) was formed and the ex-president insisted that he will support it together with other opposition political formations going forward.  

Speaking to Weekend Post this week on the matter, one Serowe North legislator Autlwetse disowned Khama saying he remains unshaken with the party, BDP. “I am a BDP member forever, dully elected in the 2014 General Elections, and also in the last year primary elections in which culminated in me being its candidate for the impending 2019 General Elections and I am unshaken,” he said. Autlwetse shot down the new party, BPF stating that “I don’t know that new party (BPF) and I have no association with it and I don’t even know what it stands for, as well as what it has in store for Serowe or the people of Batswana.”

According to Autlwetse, as such there is no reason for him to dump BDP for BPF and he stressed that it is not even a party for Bangwato as some want to portray or believe. When asked if Khama would not influence other tribesmen, all of which fall under his constituency to also dump the BDP and go for the new political home, or to other opposition parties, the Serowe North legislator said, to his remembrance, Khama did not seem to be suggesting that at the infamous gathering.

“As the party is not for Bangwato, Khama was speaking only his personal views and own position of leaving the BDP. He didn’t say to Bangwato that they should also leave their parties (BDP). That’s how I understood him.” He continued: however, the constitution of the country allows for any new political formation as is the right of association. Conversely, Autlwetse said “I do not think Khama was forcing Bangwato or anyone to join the BPF.”

The one time MP explained that some BDP members who were throwing away their BDP membership cards at the controversial meeting was also in no way linked to surrending their votes (away from BDP) at the polls. “We are not going to use those BDP cards at the polls, but rather that of IEC. So they are as useless,” he said. According to Autlwetse, so he doesn’t think it will hurt his fortunes in the coming elections.

He insisted to this publication: “I was elected by democrats (BDP) and they are the ones who will decide my fate” while adding that “Batswana and not only Bangwato tribe, will decide on the BDP.” In 2014 General Elections, Autlwetse on behalf of BDP, won Serowe North by a whopping wide margin of 9611 against Basego M. Motswakhumo of BCP who only got 576 while Ishmael Selebogo’s UDC pocketed 1067.

When speaking on Ramadeluka Seretse, who is contesting against him as an independent candidate, Autlwetse stressed that he is the only BDP candidate in the area. He added that “therefore anyone who contests riding on the notion that he is a BDP independent candidate will be dishonest and mischievous. BDP does not have an independent candidate.” Another Serowe probable law maker, Lesedi Phuthego, who succeeds Pelonomi Venson Moitoi at Serowe South, said he respects Khama but offers allegiance to only BDP the party and its leader President Masisi.

“BDP made me. The BDP members put me here to represent them. So, I will stand still with them. Only if the same democrats no longer want me they will say so through the polls. I am, still, counting on their support in 2019 elections,” Phuthego declared. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, in 2014 General Elections,  representing the BDP also garnered a sounding victory of 7833 against Iphemeleng Kgokgothwane of Opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s 1469 and Stephen Mpofu of BCP got 583 while Richard Goaletsa Bagwasi had 1359 as an independent.

The new contender, Phuthego observed that he respects Kgosi Khama as a father figure and paramount chief in Gammangwato territory and would have loved his support. “But he formed his party (BPF) and I have to respect his decision as he fully has that right,” he said. “I will stay here in BDP for as long as the party wants me here. I listen to them. If they mislead me it will also show at the polls.” According to Phuthego, Masisi is the party president and therefore he comes first in the party.

“If someone can say they are not with Masisi at this point, and that they are instead with Khama, then they are not BDP members at heart. It is high time every BDP member take a position.” He added “my campaign posters will even go with a picture of Masisi in Serowe South showing that indeed I stand with the party president and the party.” The Serowe South BDP candidate also emphasised that “every BDP member should be supporting Masisi as an incumbent leader. It doesn’t even mean we have anything against Khama. Khama is only my kgosikgolo and it ends there.”

Phuthego is also aware: “I know probably as a paramount chief, Khama will count for Bangwato or some in the party. It may affect me I know but I pray to the living God that it does not affect me to a larger extent.” Meanwhile, Tshekedi who makes the third of the BDP candidates in Serowe and surrounding villages, could not pick up calls as this publication persistently made several attempts to reach him on the matter.

Tshekedi representing BDP still in 2014 General Elections, was triumphed with a solid margin 5401 beating Edwin K. Seabe representing BCP with a paltry 431 and Rolent B Kambule only attained 948 on behalf of UDC. There is strong speculation that TK faces a serious dilemma on whether to go with his party, BDP and President Masisi or his brother and territory Chief, Khama.  

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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