Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Members of Parliament have asked party President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Vice President also party chairman, Slumber Tsogwane to desist from favoritism as it will fuel the ongoing raging inferno of divisions within the party, WeekendPost has been told.
In a no blows barred party meeting to close the year this week, backbenchers took the war to Tsogwane and gave him an ultimatum to stop favoritism lest divisions balloon into something severe. One thing they made clear is that should “apparent bias” continue, they will form their own faction which will prioritise their needs.
The meeting according to sources was characterized by complaints from party members. Tsogwane is said to have given the MPs audience “as he wants a better shaped party next year and the members did not disappoint”. An issue which dominated from the floor was alleged nepotism by Masisi and Tsogwane, sources say. The members say the two (Masisi and Tsogwane) are travelling around doing star rallies at their allies’ constituencies while leaving out other members. “Divide and rule will exacerbate the already visible divisions,” Tsogwane was told this week.
For now the party has staged five star rallies in constituencies other members say are pro Masisi. “There has been these kind of rallies in Chobe, Maun East, Ngami, Okavango, Tonota and other constituencies while others are ignored despite making calls for the same arrangement. So MPs believe that the leadership is prioritizing their cronies while sidelining others,” shared an informant within the party. It is said the decision to stage those rallies was taken looking at the contributions made at party meetings and parliamentary sessions.
Konstantinos Markous (Maun East), Bagalatia Arone (Okavango), Machana Shamukuni (Chobe) are believed to be close to the current regime and also ‘yes sir men’. Thato Kwerepe (Ngami) is also hinted to be a ‘yes sir man’ who is also handled with kids’ glove. He is said to have requested the same rally in an effort to erase Jacob Nkate from the scene. “He is afraid Nkate can still come back and having rallies with the leadership is the only way to legitimize him to electorates,” added another source.
The angry MPs argue that this arrangement is the breeding space for factions like ‘imagined New Jerusalem’ as they feel abandoned. “It should be clear we belong together, if not, we can also stage our parallel rallies because this is not right. We should be left to have our faction that will be clear with its mandate and it should not be deemed as indiscipline,” added another source on Wednesday.
The disgruntled legislators are already mobilizing to have a patron that could be in a position to launch them since only new ministers are getting that privilege. As of now, the name of former president Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama has been on the lips of many but others do not agree. “Of course he can be, but others want someone like Kedikilwe (Ponatshego) but then he lacks charisma possessed by Khama so it is yet to be decided. Mind you it can only be concluded if the status quo continues.”
MASISI REBUFFS BDP RETREAT
Calls for a retreat are said to have been dealt a blow after President Masisi decided that those with issues should rather see him individually. Tsogwane was tasked with finding a date that will be accommodative to all MPs and the President who has a very busy schedule. The retreat was expected to be held early next year to tackle burning issues with primary elections set to dominate proceedings. But as things stand the President will only meet MPs individually. “A number of members including Vincent Seretse and Biggie Butale are irate as to how the whole primary elections were conducted and it has been agreed that this should be dealt with at a retreat with all the sub-committees present,” revealed a source.
LOTTY, NCHI DIVIDE BDP
It has also cropped at the party gathering that the MPs are at pains with new members getting priority over the long serving members. It is said Lotty Manyapedza and Kentse Nchi Rammidi have been travelling around with the leadership addressing rallies and briefing regions about the party status with Masisi. “What do they know about BDP? They have just defected from the opposition. They should take a back bench,” one MP told this publication.
This, MPs say, is strategic positioning by the new members to be given some posts after elections next year. “We know they want to be rewarded at the end of the day especially when it comes to nominations or specially elected positions,” another MP briefly said. Party Chairman Tsogwane however is said to have pleaded with the democrats to accommodate new members. “We should show them that they are welcome in the party and it should not be interpreted otherwise. Let us be united and be welcoming to whoever joins the party,” he asked the MPs who were taking none of it, according to insiders.
Already there are reports that Rammidi may contest for the position of party secretary general, something which irks some BDP insiders. Next year is a busy schedule for the ruling party as there are a number of activities on the calendar – with the party congress and general elections are the highlights.
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.