The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) date for the Special Congress billed for Kang is fast approaching. This is no ordinary congress, for the first time the ruling party’s Electoral College will be subjected to a unique task of voting for the president of the party.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi is certainly defending his position, and so far Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has declared interest in the position and is contesting pending nomination at congress. But the situation is so tense to the extent that there are now assassination claims; and some have fled the country and are reported to be seeking asylum in neighbouring countries.
Venson-Moitoi’s chief campaigner Samson Guma Moyo has fled the country amid claims that he has been tipped of a plot to assassinate him by security agents. The opposing camp has dismissed Moyo’s utterances as a stunt meant to win sympathy because he is well aware that “Kang is going to be very hot” and he will be defeated.
With the final branch congresses expected this week, at this stage the two camps are now crunching the numbers to see where they stand in this historical vote. As the final touches to the campaigns are being galvanized, the BDP enthusiasts are waiting for the 5th April 2019 to go and fulfil the one agenda item – Vote the President of the BDP. Political careers are at stake in this contest and the camp that loses this contest may be forced to humble itself before the other for the sake of unity in the party. Or the winning camp may be forced to be “the bigger man” and soberly celebrate the victory.
President Masisi’s camp has won almost all 14 regions and has made sure of “endorsements” which guarantee nomination for the position of President at the Special Congress. The chairman and the Secretary of every region is a delegate, that is to say every regional structure has two votes. Therefore the 14 regions will contribute 28 votes at the Special Congress should it proceed to voting.
Each constituency will bring 10 delegates to Kang. This is how the delegates are selected. First there is a congress at cell level to elect 10 members who will attend a ward congress, at this ward congress 10 delegates are voted so that they attend the branch congress. There will be 10 delegates from each ward who will vote 8 delegates who will attend the Special Congress that will elect the BDP president. On top of the eight delegates, the chairman and the secretary of the branch are automatically delegates by virtue of their positions which makes it 10 delegates.
This is where the real battle is because this means that each constituency through the branch brings 10 delegates. Because there are 57 constituencies, this makes it 570 delegates from around the country. This is the segment of the BDP Electoral College that is expected to have a heavy load of the party work horses and the Trojans.
They will prove very key in this battle for the control of the ruling party. The BDP has about 352 Councillors country wide with 192 belonging to the Central District Council (CDC). All Councillors do vote at the Special Congress by virtue of their position. Councillors are seen as a critical part of both campaign teams because of their influence in the communities they serve. They also have the power to influence delegates.
President Masisi organized a dinner for CDC Councillors this week where he told them they should choose whether they want to go back to the days of “Rra Gaone, Rra Nametso, or the days of the immediate former President.” He also made it clear that the BDP constitution states that he will continue as party leader even if he loses the Kang vote. But President Masisi appears confident of victory and is rest assured. On the other hand Venson-Moitoi has stated that she works better than she talks, and has vowed to overcome all odds and win.
MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
The BDP currently has 44 Members of Parliament. They are all eligible to vote. They have in the past complained about the date of the Special Congress and the venue. They pointed out that the date clashes with scheduled Parliamentary business hence they wanted the vote to be postponed. BDP legislators had also complained about the venue, Kang because of the distance and lack of accommodation.
But they have been ignored and the vote goes on. Already 12 Members of Parliament have threatened to quit the BDP, an indication that they are not on President Masisi’s side. The President is most definitely aware of this because he even mentions it in his campaign sojourns at regional congresses. But MPs are also a critical voting group. Their influence to delegates from constituencies cannot be undermined.
WOMEN’S AND YOUTH WINGS
Both these structures have pledged to vote President Dr Masisi. They have 8 votes each at the Special Congress. With the Youth Wing, its Vice Chairman has been suspended from the party and he is one of the staunch supporters of Venson-Moitoi. This means only 7 members of the Youth Wing will vote in Kang.
The Central Committee is the governing structure of the party and it headed by the President. It has 18 votes at the Special Congress. Most of the votes belong to President Dr Masisi in this structure. This is the structure that will affect the number of votes at MPs level because there a few Legislators who also double as members of the central committee such as Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, Minister Tshekedi Khama, Minister Dorcas Makgato, Minister Botlogile Tshireletso, and Member of Parliament Guma Moyo, who is said to be on the run. This obviously lowers the number of votes expected because they cannot vote twice or three times in the case of Minister Makgato who is also chairperson of the Women’s Wing.
THE 1000 DELEGATES
The BDP Special Congress, a one day event, with one agenda item is expecting approximately 1000 delegates to vote its President. Whoever is elected President at this congress will be the party’s 2019 Presidential candidate. He will carry the aspirations of the reported 600 000 registered BDP members.
There are fears that the Kang vote could split the BDP into two because the many incidents during the campaign trail have signaled a point of no return in the battle. But the adage, there are no permanent enemies in politics may come in handy. However those close to the events say there is too much at stake both in terms of commerce and power hence one camp has to be annihilated altogether.
President Masisi is the third beneficiary of automatic succession constitutional dispensation – he took over when Khama left office last year April. Dr Masisi has made it clear that the transition was not smooth. But still his succession was not be a breeze in the park. First he has to ward-off the challenge from Nonofho Molefhi who was vying for the chairmanship and now he battling to remain in the party presidency ahead of 2019 elections. Neither Festus Mogae nor Khama were challenged for the throne when they ascended.
Masisi is not only battling Venson-Moitoi, he is also in the trenches against the then Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander and popular chief of Bangwato, Ian Khama. His arrival in the BDP was expected to galvanise and restore BDP’s popularity. The famous “Khama Magic” was the aura and charisma which Khama used in appealing to the masses and rallying votes for the BDP banner. But since taking over from Khama, President Masisi has reversed the script, bringing his own style, and this has irked some of his party colleagues.
The watershed moment for opposition parties was 2010, the in which BDP split, resulting in the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD); in that particularly year, Human Rights lawyer Duma Boko assumed the leadership of BNF while Dumelang Saleshando succeeded his father as leader of Botswana Congress Party (BCP). However, with opposition evidently gaining popularity at the expense of the ruling party, the BDP has remained antagonistic to prospects of introducing countering reforms.
Masisi has vowed to reverse all these with a series of sweeping changes that antagonize the practices of the then Khama administration. He has introduced new pay structures for the armed forces as the latest of his interventions and he hopes to woo votes for October. It remains to be seen if Kang will give Masisi a chance to be BDP’s poster “boy” come October 2019 or the party will choose a woman President for the first time in history. This will squarely be on the shoulders of an Electoral College made of 1000 men and women of the BDP. In Setswana, the Kang date will signify that moment at a funeral, “Tiro e boela baruting”. The facebook politicking and campaigns swings will come to a halt.
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.
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
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.
“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).