President Mokgweetsi Masisi has thrown a political salvo towards his predecessor former President Ian Khama by threatening to reopen the cases of the late Gomolemo Motswaledi and John Kalafatis.
President Masisi is said to have been angered by continuous maneuvers by his predecessor to unseat him as State President and leader of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). “The announcement by former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Pelonomi Venson Moitoi to challenge Masisi as BDP party president is what broke the camel’s back. It has angered Masisi so much that he has vowed to do everything in his power to hit back at Khama,” a Cabinet member told this publication.
Prior to Moitoi’s decision, there were threats to impose a motion of no confidence against President Masisi by some BDP members of parliament and those in the opposition. Motswaledi and Kalafatis both died mysterious deaths and many within the opposition suspected a foul play by the State. The deaths of the two remain the darkest period in the country’s post-independence history. The State has never owned up to full responsibility on the deaths of the two blaming fatigue causing an accident for Motswaledi and rogue intelligence officers having killed Kalafatis.
“Motswaledi having been suspended from the BDP as Secretary General went to form a breakaway political party the BMD, which became a national obstacle for the BDP. BMD enjoyed overwhelming support amongst the youth and was seen as going to be an impediment to the BDP, more so that elections were in the horizon. That was in 2014. Indeed, even after the passing of Motswaledi, the BMD in cooperation with the BNF invigorated many Batswana voters and made a serious dent into the BDP’s majority in parliament winning 20 constituencies with BCP to BDP’s 37.”
Kalafatis’ family lawyer, Dick Bayford was recorded in one of the radio stations some years back revealing that the family was being systematically hunted down by State security because of an alleged controversial sex tape that the state security believe came into the late Kalafatis’ possession. The alleged video, according to Bayford, supposedly shows visuals stored on a laptop of a prominent State official in comprising sexual acts. The state security, so it is alleged, believes that the laptop containing the sexually explicit material was stolen by the late Kalafatis in 2009.
John was murdered by the Botswana Defence Force Military Intelligence in 2009 for undisclosed reasons. After public outcry and pressure from the family lawyers, the state prosecuted his killers who were convicted by the High Court. They had barely served their 11-year prison sentences when former President Khama pardoned them. Reasons for granting the convicts a rare presidential pardon has not been explained to the public.
In 2012, Kalafatis’ father was assaulted by unknown assailants and subsequently passed away from injuries sustained by the assault. He had been left severely beaten and left for dead behind Sir Seretse Khama Barracks in Mogoditshane. On December 18, 2013, near a residential location commonly referred to as Partial, Kalafatis’ younger brother, Costa, was unlawfully and wrongly shot by members of a kindred Botswana security agency. He sustained serious injuries and was hospitalised at Princess Marina Hospital where he died five days later.
“Now that Masisi and Khama have fallen out, Masisi who was Khama’s number 2 feels he knows a lot behind the killings. This is supported by Peter Magosi taking over Isaac Kgosi’s role as DIS director,” said the source. “Magosi may have firsthand information on what went wrong with the killing of Kalafatis. He was head of Military Intelligence when the killing was conducted by his team. Papers, augmented by testimonies of intelligence officers and witnesses appear to substantiate what scholars have always suspected: Ian Khama, then President and Isaac Kgosi DIS Director at the time, know something about the deaths of Motswaledi and Kalafatis.”
The little that Khama or his administration has said ever since about the death of Gomolemo and Kalafatis has been obfuscation and denial. The closest that his administration has come to admitting official responsibility was after Former Vice President Mompati Merafhe was quoted saying “one or two deaths by the state is not bad”.
Another incident is of a leaked WhatsApp message sent to a group of friends by a former Minister in Khama’s cabinet who felt betrayed by Khama and Masisi, shared with friends to say Kalafatis was assassinated at the instance of the state and that the BDP sponsored the breakaway of the BMD. Now that Masisi himself is said to have threatened to open the cases brings to credibility that the demise of the two citizens was at the hands of the state.
In private conversation with BDP members, one of Khama’s remaining Ministers in Masisi Cabinet reportedly said to a senior Khama supporter, that “not only was Khama fully aware of what was going on, but the DIS led by Kgosi was operating under Khama’s explicit orders”. So much he Khama and Kgosi bypassed the Minister of Justice and Defence at the time. In his defense last year, Isaac Kgosi was quoted to have said to one local publication that Peter Magosi is the one who should take responsibility and that he dares anyone to accuse of him of the killings.
Batswana have always questioned the extent of government’s knowledge in these deaths. Evidence so far shows that former Vice Presidents, Cabinet Ministers and MPs of the ruling party though not necessarily in agreement came to understand that the two killings were the result of a formal, broad based decision by the leadership. Their silence however can later prove to them being eager accomplices.
Whilst accurately it will never be known, the existence of DIS body bags and secret houses is evidence enough to suggest that killings happened under Khama’s administration. Oral testimony from some DIS agents during Kgosi’s leadership points to host of killings that were unknown. Batswana’s only hope is that the political fight between Masisi and Khama intensifies so that they get to know many untold stories about the state.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.