The secretary general of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Mpho Balopi is having a run in with the party’s secretary for Communications, Roseline Panzirah-Matshome who is accusing him of blocking her trip to China following an invitation from the Embassy.
The two former friends are currently having a frosty relationship. The genesis of their fallout is linked to the blocked China trip and the impending campaign for the position of secretary general of the BDP. At the last congress, Panzirah-Matshome campaigned for Balopi but she has since withdrawn her support for Balopi and is linked to Samson Guma Moyo campaign. In addition Panzirah-Matshome is said to be lobbying to also become the deputy secretary general of the BDP.
Panzirah-Matshome has through Dingake Law Partners challenged the alleged instruction from Balopi which called off her trip to China. “Roseline advices us that she had been invited, through the Chinese Embassy, to attend All China Woman’s Federation function for the period 10th September 2018 to 22nd September 2018. The said invitation came through to Roseline on or about the 29th August 2018 and immediately thereafter sought to obtain VISA for purpose of her travel. We understand the VISA was duly issued to her enabling her to undertake the said trip. Our instructions from Roseline are that you then facilitated to cancel or caused to facilitate the All China Woman’s Federation to cancel and or exclude Roseline from attending the said function.”
It is understood that Roseline’s invitation aforesaid was personal and therefore not linked to any organisation, least not any party. “Roseline has been informed by her contacts in China and from All China’s Women Federation that you have singularly caused the cancellation of her trip and without the party’s knowledge, notwithstanding you were specifically told the invitation was to her in her personal capacity and that if the party wished to nominate any other person, it could do so without affecting Roseline’s status.”
It is understood on behalf of the BDP, Balopi took advantage of the invitation and sent Goitse Phori, a central committee additional member on the China trip. Balopi has since responded to Panzirah-Matshome’s missive by simply denying the accusation through his lawyers, Bogopa, Manewe and Attorneys. Weekend Post has learnt that Panzirah-Matshome has since informed the leadership for the BDP about her frosty relationship with Balopi and the report is on Vice President Slumber Tsogwane’s desk.
Panzirah-Matshome is said to have been a victim of accusations aimed at tarnishing her relationship with the leadership if the party, especially President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi. She has been accused of leaking party information and not supporting the President or linked to the “fictitious Jerusalem faction”. Asked for comment, Panzirah-Matshome confirmed that there is disharmony between herself and the secretary general. She further confirmed that the Vice President is handling their issues and was confident they will be addressed amicably.
Asked to comment on the legal letters exchange Balopi said: “I have never received any letter from her through the lawyers. Maybe you can ask the secretariat at our offices. There is a process as to how we do things ever since we assumed power years ago. The letter will be directed to the party not Balopi.”
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.