Former Botswana National Front Youth League (BNFYL) President Kagiso Ntime has revealed reasons that have led to him dumping the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in favour of his old political home.
Ntime, in an unexpected turn of events in 2012, resigned from BNF, during the mass exodus occasioned by disagreement relating to BNF’s involvement in opposition cooperation talks, as well as President Duma Boko’s leadership style. In his parting shots in 2012, Ntime ruled out the possibility of opposition winning power because of lack of seriousness on their part. Ntime said BDP was a credible organisation, also stating that as member of the ruling party he had a better chance of influencing change as compared to when he is in the opposition. Although he was welcomed amid fanfare, soon after he was relegated to the periphery and later glided into political obscurity.
Farmed and nurtured in the BNF’s leftist ideology, Ntime found the going tough in the conservative BDP which has little tolerance for vocal activists of Ntime’s nature. In an exclusive interview with this publication, Ntime revealed that going back to the BNF was a decision he had carefully thought about. He stated that when he joined the ruling party, he thought he would be able to speak openly on issues that concern the country at large but was rather put into a corner and his voice was never heard for six years.
He said even being elected a councillor, was not enough to help him to openly share his views. “I felt I was bottled up, the ruling party did not give me the opportunity to fully utilise my capacity as far as speaking for the people is concern,” Ntime said. Ntime told WeekendPost that he comes from a background of radical, evolutional and militant politics because they are politics focused on the betterment of the lives of the people. He further said he was unable to achieve all these radical transformation agenda which seemed to be scaring some in the BDP.
“I don’t practice yes-men politics, I realised the culture of where I was coming from and where I was were two different political cultures,” he explained. Ntime explained that he tried to stay and adapt to BDP’s organizational culture and failed. He said despite several attempts to stay, he failed dismally and realised it was time to go back to his roots. Ntime candidly said that he felt he needed space and the BNF was the only place he could be offered an opportunity to speak ‘on behalf of the people.’
He however, pointed out that he could form a party if he would but described it as tedious and expensive hence retracing back to his previous political home. “I know going back was a wise decision to make, the BNF uses social, democratic program which I feel fully subscribes to me and will get me back on my feet again,” Ntime clarified. Ntime said when he left the BNF he was against the way the party leader [Boko] wanted to run things and felt the model would never work. He said what he had anticipated six years ago is what is happening today.
“Six years ago, what is happening today is what I had anticipated. Today the BNF & BCP are working together, that is what I had wanted. I wanted BMD subjected to test first. So as long as BNF and BCP are together, I am happy,” he pointed out. Prior to his resignation from the BNF in 2012, Ntime had made it clear he was uncomfortable with Boko’s leadership style, when asked how they were going to work together, Ntime said the differences between him and the party president have been resolved.
“There were contentions, but those were not personal but ideological. That is why at some point when I felt it was personal, we went to the courts, but we also settled out of the courts. Boko and I are brothers, at some point he even asked when I was coming back to the BNF,” Ntime said. Ntime dismissed the allegations that he left the BDP because he had wanted to topple Gaborone City Council mayor, Calvin Thutlwe.
“People wanted me to stand for mayor, I refused, I wanted him to account first, I even tabled a motion to have the council cleansed. The mayor needs to account, I am not after his position,” he clarified. Ntime said he went back without any promises given to him. He further pointed out that he would not be surprised if the party insists that he stands for the elections amid rumours that he has been promised the Molepolole South constituency. “The fact of the matter is I am back, what happens next will happen,” he said.
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.