Number of Zimbabweans refugees who thronged the Dukwi Refugee Camp at the height of the bloody 2008 elections is expected to double as government and United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) consider rescuing ‘innocent lives’ of the troubled nation.
The government through Ministry of Defense Justice and Security together with their counterparts from UNHCR have already drawn a contingency plan aimed at rescuing the Zimbabweans who are likely to flee the country amid armed forces crackdown. The decision by the two entities come in response to unrest and a call for a nationwide “shutdown” provoked by Zimbabwean government’s decision to implement 150 percent price hike on fuel. Faith in the government of Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was cheered when he toppled longtime leader Robert Mugabe in 2017, is quickly dwindling.
Botswana government and UNHCR are concerned about the potential for further unrest and loss of lives which are synonymous with the nation once considered the bread basket of Africa. The widespread reports of looting that have accompanied the protests are also expected to plunge Zimbabwe into deeper economic misery which has Botswana monitoring the situation closely considering the consequences.
Botswana shares the northern border with Zimbabwe. Executives from the ministry and UNHCR have been lodging at Dukwi Refugee Camp since the crackdown to organize logistics while keeping an eye in Zimbabwe. The whole of this week, there has been series of meetings which have one objective, “how best to assist the innocent Zimbabweans.” “Since the violence started, we have been in endless meetings with the ministry, police as well as the immigration department,” UNHCR head of mission in Botswana Arvind Gupta told this publication.
“We have a contingency plan which we drew with the government so that we can assist; the situation is very unstable thus far. Unfortunately I can’t share with you the details of the contingency plan. For now we don’t know the figures as to how many are likely to come here” he added.
Ever since the situation deteriorated the door-to-door operation carried out by the armed forces has led to 12 deaths, 78 gunshot wounds, hundreds of instances of assault or torture, and enough arrests to fill prisons beyond capacity. This is according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, an umbrella organization that compiles reports from observers across the country.
The Zimbabwean government has blacked out Internet access in most of the country since the beginning of the protests. George Charamba, a government spokesman, said it was to prevent coordinated violence by protesters, while critics of the government say it is to prevent evidence of its mayhems from emerging. There are around 700 Zimbabwean refugees in Dukwi Refugee Camp whom under the tripartite agreement between governments of Botswana, Zimbabwe and UNHCR could be going back.
“There is no plan to send anyone back with this situation at hand,” Gupta clarified. The then Zimbabwean Minister of Home Affairs and Culture, Dr Obert Mpofu, had met with Minister Shaw Kgathi in 2017 and appealed to Zimbabwean refugees at Dukwi Refugee Camp to go back home.
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.
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.
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.