Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has lashed out at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members including President Mokgweetsi Masisi for misleading people in an attempt to create impression that reconciliation was agreed in Palapye.
Khama who had lunch, met and shook hands with his successor for the first time since 1st April 2018, said Masisi’s lunch invitation was nothing but a mind’s eye to deceive democrats. He is of the view that Masisi’s lunch invitation was only meant to join him at his table but nothing transpired thereafter. The two men never had a conversation in regard to the recent appalling state of the party, and the stand-off between the duo will continue.
Regarding the alleged dinner and the photos that circulated on social media where they were seen laughing together with party Treasurer Satar Dada, Khama said it was coincidental. They did not have dinner together, in fact they attended the same wedding event together which involves Choppies CEO Ramachandran Ottapatthu’s daughter. The former president said they did not even sit at the same table as paraded on social media.
“It was not a planned meeting as part of reconciliation, it was just coincidence,” said Khama. Allegations suggest that while at Palapye in a closed session meeting where only accredited members of the party were allowed, Khama came late and he refused a chair he was given but rather choose to sit where he intended. However, Khama was quick to dismiss those allegations saying he came late and did not want to disrupt the proceedings and sat at the back but was later ushered to his allocated sit in front.
“This is the same incident like the June congress where I did not come on time and decided to sit at the back,” he said. The former president who has since had a fallout with his successor immediately after taking over also took the opportunity to lash at some individuals who continue to propagate rumors on plots to assassinate President Masisi and challenged everyone with information to come forward.
“These are the same people who talked about false allegations about a coupe d’état which was going to be orchestrated by the Israelis. That was totally ridiculous and it was a lot of nonsense. There is nothing like that at all, I am confident that having lived in this country for so many years, there would not be people in our ranks as Batswana who would do that,” he said.
He continued to say this is an orchestrated and deliberate propaganda put out by some people who want to create sympathy for him to suggest his life is under threat. Khama said using these allegations which he termed as ‘fake news’ to try to find a reason to go after opponents pretending that there is some kind of threat which does not exist is going to have some very serious consequences for the reputation of Botswana as a peaceful, stable country.
He said coups and assassinations are things that we hear about in other countries not in Botswana and we have never had this situations before, questioning why is it happening now. Former president Khama said these people who continue to peddle such lies should be called to order. Khama who had an intimate meeting with Namibian president Hage Geingob last week could not divulge the details of the meeting.
He only chose to say the meeting was successful and confidential however allegations are rife that Geingob, the current Chairman of SADC who was on a working visit to SADC Secretariat in Gaborone, Botswana was also tasked with choreographing a reconciliation exercise between the two men. It is alleged that the Namibian president was also tasked with convincing Khama to persuade Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi to step down on the presidential race. Geingob is believed to be a close ally of former president Khama.
“I regret, I don’t feel I should reveal what we discussed because out of courtesy to him, it was a private meeting. All I can confirm is yes indeed we did meet and we had a discussion. Exactly what we talked about I would really have to revert to him to reveal or allow me to reveal. I would feel uncomfortable to reveal what we discussed in a private meeting,” Khama said. In regard to Venson- Moitoi’s presidential bid, Khama said he is not shaken and still put his weight behind her.
He said the Palapye retreat did not change anything, the situation still remains the same. “We are today, still where we were before Palapye, my position hasn’t changed,” he said. Khama said as to how the campaigns and preparations are going, he reverted this publication to the relevant people who are responsible and directly involved in that regard.
When commenting on the endorsement videos and messages circulating on social media where democrats are seen endorsing President Masisi on his presidential race against Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi, Khama said there are two things; an indication of lack of confidence in the leader and one is that they are promised something for them to do that.
“Some of them may be genuine supporters, there is no doubt but others are being enticed. I‘ve never seen it but I know in the past where people were doing it for their own personal campaigns as candidates selling themselves to the electorates but when you then organize a structure of a whole party to go and approach people to come and do videos to support, clearly it means you don’t feel confident of your own,” he contended.
Khama also alluded to the fact that on the issue of primary elections, the videos are not allowed but it is silent on the event of presidential race. On his longtime ally and the current Minister of Tourism Kitso Mokaila abandoning him for Masisi, former president Khama said he is someone he has associated with for some years from his days at Botswana Defence Force (BDF). He said he rescued his political career when he was rejected by his constituents and made him specially elected and Minister.
“But that does not necessary mean he owes me anything, he is free to support whoever he want. I was even sitting next to him in Palapye but in that environment we did not discuss anything and that was just a chance meeting”.
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.