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Khama to quit BDP

Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama is on the verge of quitting the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), with several close associates indicating that it is only a matter of time that his best kept secret becomes public.

Khama’s walk out from the BDP—the party which his father Sir Seretse Khama helped found in 1961— follows a series of battles with his successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi. “As the mighty BDP hosts its Manifesto launch on Saturday (today) at the University of Botswana Sports Arena, Khama who confirmed his attendance could be donning the party colours for the last time as the member of the party,” confirmed a highly placed source.  

The aftermath of Kang Special Congress where his close friend, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi was challenging Masisi for party presidency is believed to have been the watershed moment. “The aftermath of Kang will continue to haunt the BDP, many people believe Venson-Moitoi was not fairly treated which led to her withdrawing from the race,” a source told WeekendPost.

Sources close to the developments say it remains to be seen if Khama who did not attend the Kang Special Congress on the 5th April this year—opting to play football at his retirement home in Mosu instead—will attend the event today at UB. They said if he do attend, that will be a historic event and needs to be captured because it could be the last time he attend a BDP event donning party colours as the member of the party in good standing.

It is reported that however he chose to remain mum on his political future despite compelling evidence linking him to a new party. “It is not clear whether he will join them or opposition but maybe he will choose to leave politics forever. He is of the view that he was pushed from the party he liked the most,” said a highly placed source. Ever since he ascended to presidency President Masisi has been at loggerheads with his predecessor, making his life even more difficult for Khama and reconciliation even impossible.

When asked about the possibility of leaving BDP, former President Ian Khama was reluctant to answer this reporter and later declined to comment on the matter. He however chose to accuse Masisi of further sinking the mighty BDP and eroding the renowned democracy that once prevailed amongst Batswana. Former President Khama who left office on 1st April 2018 gave the presidential button to Masisi, one of his trusted lieutenants then.

Prior to Khama’s departure, it was believed that Khama had chosen someone whom he will control after leaving office. However, the moment Khama left the office, Masisi emerged from the woods, proving to be his own man. Masisi has come had on key figures in Khama’s administration which he was part of, accusing them of corrupt practices and raiding on them. He launched an attack on Khama and his close associates, a move that saw the war between the two reaching the attention of the international media.

Khama who was viewed as a pillar in the Venson-Moitoi campaign leading to Kang said recent reports that he is now endorsing the opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in particular, as baseless and misleading. He said Botswana is democratic country thus when he is invited by some members of the opposition to attend their events on his spare time he do attend. “This is not endorsement, it is not a crime to be amongst the opposition,” he said.

The former President said Masisi should be held accountable for the things he says but never delivers on his promises. He said after Kang he told democrats that he is now vying for unity in the party but nothing has been done so far. Immediately after what come out as a humiliation on Venson-Moitoi, he called her to his office to smoke a peace pipe but Venson-Moitoi would not take any of it after Masisi refused to drop charges on 30 councils who attended the infamous Serowe meeting.

Khama said so far they are still refusing him with air transport. He might not attend the 2019 instalment of Khawa Sand Dune Challenge which is his brainchild because they are refusing with an aircraft. He said so far they have declined seven (7) requests since the beginning of this year, saying it is disheartening. He said all the matters including a repayment for the India trip, charges laid against his security detail, and refusal to grant him air transport are being dealt by his lawyers Ramalepa Attorneys.

The two men never had a conversation in regard to the recent appalling state of the party. Ever since Khama left office, they only met face to face on two occasions, a move which shows their situation is serious. On several occasions party elders tried to convene in a reconciliation exercise but the talks collapsed because of the clash of egos and trust issues among the two men.  

Khama is of the view that Masisi has always misled people telling them that he is looking forward to working with him but behind closed doors he continued to harass him and tried to make his life even more difficult. He said at some point he was more than willing to participate in the negotiations but the perpetuated harassment on him and his office proved that Masisi and his administration are not willing to stop the fight.

“Look right now you put someone like Bridgette Motsepe under Visa restriction because of her alliance to me. What does it say about the country, right now people are not happy in South Africa about that decision because people are blinded by me when they make decisions,” he said. Asked about her relation with Bridgette Motsepe, Khama said she is a longtime friend and only described her as a ‘very close friend’.

 He also said he knew Malcom X by association with Motsepe but denied that he played a role in Venson-Moitoi’s campaign. “I only knew him by collateral damage with Bridgette Motsepe. The funny thing is there was no formal communication address to the duo and no reasons were ever advanced as to why they were put under visa restrictions.”

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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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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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