The Association of Former Members of Botswana Parliament chaired by former Cabinet Minister and property mogul, David Magang has chastised former President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama for dividing the country.
According to a communique from the Association of Former Members of the Botswana Parliament, it was established on the 24th September 2018 under Section 6 (1) of the Registration of Societies Regulations of the Societies Act. The statement further says the Association is a non-profit making and independent organization whose membership is drawn from former members of the Botswana Parliament from various political parties. Recently Government took a decision to reward all former Members of Parliament with 20% of the basic salary of current Legislators which translates to about P8000 a month.
The objectives of the Association, among others, are: To mobilize all former members of the Botswana Parliament into an association; To provide collective opinions or pronouncements on matters of national interest and importance; and to advise Government, the nation at large or any other institution on any matter that may be within its competence.
“At its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Gaborone on the 11th May 2019, while acknowledging that the nation faces many varied challenges, the Association resolved to formally express concern about the following issues which are current and also present grave risk to the stability of the nation and her core values and principles,” reads a release from the Association.
At the apex of issues raised by the former MPs is what they contextualize as, “The national instability and anxiety created by the Former President His Excellency Dr. Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama emanating from his unfounded appeal for sympathy from across the nation. We observe with regret that his sympathy seeking antics are fast turning into promotion of regionalism and tribalism.”
According to the Magang chaired Associatuion, their collective view is that the Former President’s actions and utterances are uncalled for and must be rejected by all those who live in “this beautiful country if we are to preserve our national peace and tranquility that we have enjoyed over the years and have become the envy of many a nation.” The Association further calls upon the Former President to desist from his divisive gatherings and statements and play his role as a statesman who has enjoyed the support and recognition of Batswana during his term of office.
“Our plea is informed by the diligent job our other former Presidents did in their retirement. They did not only subordinate themselves and allowed space for their successors to run the affairs of the nation but also became ambassadors of Botswana across the globe through their noble peace-making efforts. We believe this immediate past Former President must do the same,” writes the former Members of Parliament.
The latest rebuke aimed at Khama follows another statement released last week by 39 Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Members of Parliament in which the legislators expressed pain at “the gross contravention of the BDP culture which was displayed at a meeting addressed by Former President, H.E. Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, in Serowe on 04th May 2019.”
They pointed out that the Party would ordinarily not make a statement when one of their own derails in a manner of such magnitude, but noted that a former State President is no ordinary member, having been a holder of the highest position in the BDP and the Republic. “In its 57 years history, BDP has remained welded together by the selfless service of its members, and leaders alike.
The desire to put the interest of the nation and party before those of individuals is the reason for its strong foundations. The recent events are foreign to our party and cannot be allowed to pass by without any counsel. We hereby offer this much needed counsel,” reads their statement. The message of tribalism and regionalism was further echoed in this statement when the 39 MPs wrote, “Batswana are reminded that this nation was not built on regionalism and tribalism nor on anything that borders on those.
We should not let the afore-mentioned to divide this party and the nation. We grew up in a united Botswana and cannot afford to rob future generations of the same kind of environment that our forebearers left for us. Botswana comes first, our political parties and individual interests are secondary. The BDP has not harmed the Former President in anyway and therefore there is no need for him or anyone else to encourage its membership to leave or turn against it. We collectively call for sanity to prevail.”
Corruption, GBV worry EX MPs
From 11th May meeting the Association noted another area of concern to be crime with particular emphasis on gender-based violence and child abuse. The former MPs said these crimes against “the most vulnerable of our society are against our morality, our culture and laws of our country.” They called upon perpetrators of these heinous crimes to desist from their acts of criminality. “We further plead with the civil society to play a bigger role in reducing the impact of this national crisis.
The Association also requests Government and Parliament to not only review the relevant laws to make them more stringent but to also provide support and resources to those institutions that are tasked with providing the much-needed care and support to victims of these crimes.” The Association of Former Members of Botswana Parliament also informed the nation that they are alarmed by the high levels of corruption in the economy that is being reported in the print media.
“Incidences of corruption seems to have literally spiraled out of control during the past ten years. To this end, we call upon Batswana to embrace the fight against corruption in all its forms across the economy. We encourage all citizens to give support to all institutions of Government tasked with investigating corruption in order to bring perpetrators to book. We believe that these institutions must be afforded the required resources and the necessary operational independence they need to be effective in their critical mission.”
The Association whose Secretary is former MP, Shirley Segokgo and Treasurer is Isaac Mabiletsa said it offers this advice and counsel with the hope that Batswana will reflect on these issues and challenges facing the nation and in turn engage each other constructively in their neighborhoods, workplaces and other meeting places with a view of encouraging each other to choose unity and security as a nation before any other interests. Some of the notable names in the list of those who subscribe to the Association include former Vice President, Ponatshego Kedikilwe.
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.”