It has been a tumultuous week for the most populous Council in the country, the Central District Council (CDC). With all the hair raising developments linked to the ongoing feud between President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and former President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama, the dust shall only settle post October General Elections.
Councillors are at each other’s throats as they align themselves with the two figure heads – but now a gaslighting approach by Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Frans Solomon Van Der Westhuizen has thrown the spanner into the works. Some in the CDC believe that the Minister’s Executive Powers are set to run the 192 councillors at most until the October elections.
This week the Minister, using his executive powers, rejected a resolution by the Serowe Administrative Authority (SAA) to remove its chairperson, Mpho Kooreme following a successful motion of no confidence. The motion was approved by 17 councillors and rejected by 5. Those in support of Kooreme’s removal are of the view that Van Der Westhuizen has undermined democracy, whilst the Minister argues that their motion and resolution was not in the public interest. Kooreme is seen as President Masisi supporter hence his removal by colleagues who do not subscribe to his “patriotism stance”.
While the Serowe meeting called by some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members who are aligned to Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s campaign bid for the BDP presidency appears to have ignited the flames, it has emerged that the fractious relationships have been peeping out of the words already, with an alleged failed attempt to remove the current chairperson of the CDC, Peter Williams, a BDP seating councilor from Semotswane.
Before the BDP Serowe meeting Williams had reported Kooreme and four others, Gabagopole Sebele, deputy chairperson of Palapye Administrative Authority; Goratamang Masweu, Chairperson of Bobirwa Sub District Council; and Goabaone Bolesitswe, deputy chairperson of Boteti Sub District Council.
Williams, who is not seeking re-election wrote a letter to Minister Van der Westhuizen reporting acts of misconduct against some in the CDC executive whom he accused of sabotaging council business. On the 22nd January 2019 he wrote, “On the 14th December 2018, some members of the Council behaved in a manner that made the council unmanageable. They walked out of the council and influenced the collapse of the quorum, hence failure for the Council to finish critical issues of the Council.”
The CDC chairperson had requested that the minister of Local Government “act accordingly for smooth running of the council”. He further stated that “the principle of the wishes of these are wanting against the Government of the day, and the moral qualities as well as self-dedication to the cause of the Government of the people.”
But Minister Van Der Westhuizen wrote back to Williams, “This letter is in response to your unreferenced letter dated 22nd January 2019, through which you brought to my attention certain occurrences that you deem to be making Central District Council ungovernable, thus requiring my immediate intervention.”
Van Der Westhuizen also made it clear that he has seen the appeal and the alleged misconduct. However he said he is of the view that the laws in place as well as the operational Standing Orders have to be exhausted first before “I can descend into the arena as requested.” Williams was initially “mistakenly viewed as a Venson-Moitoi or Khama supporter, but it has since become clear that he supports the President Masisi,” said a CDC Councillor who preferred to remain anonymous. The Councillor alleged that CDC is divided and this is likely to affect service delivery.
“You see now the feud between Masisi and Khama almost affected schedule of meetings, one of which was to address the tentative budget for 2019/2020.” Meanwhile Minister Van Der Westhuizen has attracted the wrath of some councillors, especially those from the Serowe Administrative Authority who accuse him of overstepping his mark and “abusing” his powers. They further point out that he applies double standards because he fails to stamp his authority when he was told that Kooreme and company were undermining the Council processes, but was quick to “remember his powers” when Kooreme was removed through a motion of no confidence just so that he saves him.
“I have read and studied the report presented by the Council Secretary which details what transpired and the deliberations that resulted in the resolution to remove the said chairperson. Having studied the report, it is clear that the resolution passed to remove the Chairperson of Serowe Administrative Authority is not in the public or national interest. That being the case, I have taken a decision to reject the Resolution and duly reinstate the Chairperson of Serowe Administrative Authority with immediate effect.
The said powers being derived from Section 85 of the Local Government Act,” says a letter from the Minister as read by Council Chairperson, Peter Williams to the full council meeting. The ruling BDP goes for a Special Congress in Kang on the 5th of April 2019 where President Masisi is expected to romp to victory against Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, should she get nomination as they battle for the presidency of the BDP. So far Masisi has been nominated by nine regions of the BDP including the central region.
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.