In the aftermath of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Palapye retreat, the party’s Secretary General Mpho Balopi and Treasurer Satar Dada in the cover of darkness have been holding meetings with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama separately to pledge alliance to him.
Balopi who is reported to have shown a cold shoulder towards Khama during the retreat by refusing to acknowledge him on his arrival had later visited Khama at his office. “He told Khama he is still loyal to him in his fight against President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Balopi pretended to show remorse and said his actions were caused by President Masisi, saying he gives him instructions to talk ill of the former president,” said a source close to the events.
Balopi’s recent visits to Khama is seen as a strategic move on his part after he learnt that the pro-Masisi camp intends to drop him as SG of the BDP in the upcoming Elective Congress scheduled for July. “This alone made Balopi trace his footsteps back to Khama who was instrumental to descending him from an ordinary member of the party, to the SG position. Prior to the developments, Balopi did not mince his words when he got to choose who he supports in the fight between Masisi and Khama. He was explicit saying ‘BDP is bigger than Khama’, adding that the former president should toe the line.”
“But with recent events sensing a broader Khama momentum nationally and the intruding of Khama in his parliamentary area of Gaborone North by conducting charitable programs in his constituency, this has gotten Balopi trying much to endear himself to Khama. And this is typical of Balopi, he always wants to be where the honey is. He is spreading his legs in the event that a Khama faction comes in to power,” said a BDP activist. Those within the new Khama circle have rebuffed Balopi’s efforts and blamed Khama for entertaining Balopi.
They opine that Khama is making the same prior mistakes of entertaining people who have questionable characters, and only out there to use him. “There is no genuineness in Balopi’s visits. Balopi is an unwanted child by the Masisi camp, and now all of a sudden he remembers Khama. We are going to shield Khama of opportunists and we want sincere people. The man has been lied to by many. It is time for Khama to fix his legacy, and mend fences with people he wrongly hurt by being used by people like the likes of Balopi,” said a Khama aide.
This publication also learnt that in the same week, businessmen Satar Dada visited Khama as well. “Being a shrewd businessman, Dada called for peace between Khama and Masisi and that he distances himself from some of the actions of Masisi. He said he is embarrassed by some of the current administration’s decisions and questioned the judgement of Masisi. He is quoted as saying, ‘the truth is we have a problem with Masisi. He is behaving erratic, and no one ever knows his next move’”.
Khama is thought to have felt hard done by many people he went out of his way to uplift. “Not only Masisi, but many people within the BDP. Kitso Mokaila is one, and so has been Dada. And Khama finds this as a betrayal of the highest magnitude. But those close to Khama say he was warned of many people. It is for surprise he did not even know the man he made his VP and eventually his successor. All he relied on was cork eyed views of Isaac Kgosi which had his self-interests,” said an ally of Khama.
Dada, who has always rose above factions throughout his tenure at the party is the currently longest serving BDP Central Committee member, having been party treasurer since 1995. Sources indicated that former party secretary generals, Jacob Nkate and Kentse Rammidi are being considered to replace Balopi in Masisi camp. Nkate, who contested the secretary general against Balopi in 2017 after a fallout with Masisi camp, recently closed ranks with Masisi.
Nkate, a former co-leader of A-Team faction served as party secretary general 2007-2009. Prior to that, he was party deputy secretary general from 2003-2007. Meanwhile Rammidi, who served as Nkate’s understudy between2007-2009, briefly served as secretary general from 2011, before resigning from BDP to join opposition. Rammidi returned to BDP last year, shortly after Masisi became president.
Contacted for comment, Balopi said as SG of the BDP, Khama is his former president, “and his office is a public office,” he said. He also noted that he has a president and is loyal to him. “Whatever I did under the leadership of Khama I will do so under Masisi. We need each other at BDP.” “There is no camp under President Masisi. President Masisi is the leader of both the ruling BDP and Botswana. We are all under his leadership,” he said.
“Balopi is the SG of the BDP elected to the position of SG by the congress, democratically. There is no undemocratic and unconstitutional process that can reverse this. Those who are peddling all the lies are badly advised and the prophets of doom driven by individualism, hate and love for instability.” Balopi said he served the BDP under the leadership of former President Khama to the best of his ability and that he was loyal to both the leadership and the BDP.
“I am currently serving under the leadership of President Masisi and I am still very loyal to both the BDP and its leadership. Those who are peddling these issues and causing the current confusion are the usual suspects and icons of instability,” he said. “They have to engage me directly and stop being cowards by running to the media.” Balopi went on to state that while people might be going there for different reasons, his visit is solely because of the BDP. We have to respect the elders and need not be seen causing divisions.
For his part, Khama confirmed to this publication on Thursday that he met with both Balopi and Dada at his office on several occasions. “Balopi came to my office to see me. I understand he is under too much pressure at his constituency, and he needs support. Remember I am the one who made him what he is today,” Khama said, stressing that though many BDP activists were still loyal to him he does not want to be seen causing divisions within the BDP.
The former president also stated that he met with Dada several times at his office. He said, as a party treasurer, Dada cannot be perceived as taking sides. “’Dada cannot be on Mma Venson-Moitoi’s side by virtue of him being a party treasure. He is obviously on the side of Masisi.”
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.