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BDP MPs break ranks with Masisi over direct presidential election

Parliament has passed a motion calling for the amendment of the constitution to allow for the direct election of the President, which was tabled by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Member of Parliament for Nata/Gweta, Polson Majaga.

The motion successfully passed after the sponsor, Majaga garnered enough support to ward-off Vice President Slumber Tsogwane’s attempt to have the motion killed. President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has reportedly expressed his disapproval for the motion and had tried to convince the party legislators not to support the motion but to no avail. The motion requests the government to carry out a referendum on the possibility of direct election of the president of the Republic of Botswana.

Masisi reportedly believes that the ongoing tension between him and his predecessor Lt Gen Ian Khama makes him anxious that the party could be conspiring to abort his 10 year tenure as president. Addressing the party’s weekly meeting prior to the adoption of the motion, Masisi dismissed the motion and asked Majaga to withdraw, sources have told this publication. It is said the president after making his stand known to his MPs, asked them to re-look at it  but MPs were not having none of it.

Masisi left the meeting under the supervision of Chairman Tsogwane, where the motion was discussed at length with most of the party members declaring support for it at the end labelling it “progressive and democratic.” Masisi, sources say, is against the direct president election such that he once asked his cabinet which outnumbers the back-bench not to support the idea. Despite all that, those within the Cabinet reveal that the motion is progressive and it would corroborate Botswana as shining example of democracy hence the motion passed in parliament.

Contacted on the plot to have the motion killed, Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay said: “We were discussing our own issues which should remain in-house and I cannot help you on any of the issues you are raising.” Main opposition party, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is have been watching with keen interest as this is what they have been advocating for in the past years.

The opposition warmly embraced the motion.

Majaha said Chapter 4, section 32 of the constitution which states that the President of the republic shall be determined by the number of parliamentary seats his party has won in a general election does not reflect the people’s desires. In his motion, Majaga also wants cabinet ministers not to be selected from sitting Members of Parliament as per the current status quo. He asserts that cabinet ministers are constrained and overstretched as they have to meet the demands of the ministry and the constituency they represent.  He went on to say that, should ministers be selected from outside Parliament, the President would be able to bring experts with a wealth of experience to head the ministries.

“I believe ministers should focus on their ministerial portfolios and account to Parliament. In the current system, Permanent Secretaries are the ones who represent ministries during their meetings with the Public Accounts Committee instead of ministers,” Majaga explained.
The motion was initially tabled by Tati East legislator Samson Guma Moyo in 2015 but was never debated. This time around the motion has been resuscitated by another Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Member of Parliament for Nata/Gweta, Majaga.

The motion was presented to parliament yesterday (Friday) with party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane pleading with the house to put the motion on hold pending consultations with Batswana. Tsogwane told parliament that he had wanted to engage Majaga and advise him on the motion, but said it was clear that Majaga was not interested. "I have even tried to send him and SMS but he did not respond", Tsogwane told parliament.

The VP quickly tried to move in terms of Standing Order of 54.1 of Parliament to have the motion adjourned pending further consultation. At this point, parliament had to vote whether they agree with VP Tsogwane or not. MPs voted and 6 agreed with Tsogwane that the motion adjourn, while 16 MPs objected. Only 1 MP abstained. Tsogwane tried to seek division from parliament, but Deputy Speaker, Kagiso Molatlhegi will have none of it. He argued that VP was late to ask for a division and Parliament has already agreed with Majaga.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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