With the ruckus between President Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi and his predecessor Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama unabating, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Members of Parliament are making all the moves to get the two leaders to talk.
This week, at the party’s weekly caucus they pushed Vice President Slumber Tsogwane to the wall, demanding that he get the President to organize a party retreat. President Masisi and former President Khama are currently not seeing eye to eye, with the President indicating that the transition between him and the man who gave him the baton has not been smooth; while on the other hand Khama suggesting that the President is misleading the nation with his assertions because, according to him, transition completed on 1st April 2018.
However the BDP Members of Parliament are not interested on who between the two men is right, their main concern is the 2019 general election. They are of the view that the conflict between Masisi and Khama is particularly unhealthy for the party on the eve of an election that is likely to be hotly contested. They want the two leaders to smoke the peace pipe and focus on garnering votes for the BDP.
This past week President Masisi came clean on what could be the source of this friction, stating at a Parliamentary caucus that the former President had made a suggestion that he appoint Tshekedi Khama his Vice President when he takes over. He deducts that his decision to appoint a different person, Slumber Tsogwane, as his Vice President could have rubbed President Khama the wrong way. President Masisi has made it clear that he never had a deal with anyone and he does not owe anyone anything.
On the other hand former President Khama has dismissed suggestions that he had tried to extract a promise from President Masisi that he will appoint his brother, Tshekedi Khama Vice President of the country. He made it clear that if Tshekedi Khama has presidential ambitions he should pursue on a personal capacity.
President Masisi believes that Khama’s active lifestyle in matters coincidental to politics is hurting and dividing the party. He says he has tried to bring peace between the two of them by engaging BDP elders to mediate but there seems to be no end in sight. This he has even shared in his State of the Nation Address on November 5th.
However the BDP Members of Parliament have made it clear to Tsogwane that they want a party retreat where the President, the former President, the elders, Members of Parliament, Councillors, and other party structures such as the Central Committee and regional leaders will be presented so that the rift between the two leaders may be put to rest.
The legislators are worried that the party may fail to meet its projections next year because of the conflict between Masisi and Khama. They were confident that with a divided opposition, the election was BDP’s lose. Some of the MPs who spoke at the party parliamentary caucus made it clear to Tsogwane, who was non-committal on the granting the retreat, that the performance of the BDP at next year’s general election is highly dependent on how President Masisi and predecessor get along.
The MPs made suggestions that those fueling the rift may be working for the opposition or simply not having the interest of the party at heart. For his part, Vice President Tsogwane is said to have told the Members of Parliament that he will engage the President on the matter and give them feedback. It remains to be seen if President Masisi will accede to the MPs’ request, owing to the statements he is said to have already made at party caucus and recently in an interview with a weekend publication.
Some of the statements he made were almost explosive statement, Masisi also said to have shared a strategy which he says outlines plans to remove him as a presidents and create enough chaos leading to the BDP congress so that Tshekedi Khama is made president. His comments come as there is a mounting speculation that the BDP may support a motion of No Confidence on the President, of which Slumber Tsogwane will become the acting president till the national elections slated for October next year.
It is suggested that Tshekedi Khama will be his Vice President which after the election he will then become the president. Confirmed reports are that indeed factions loyal to Khama have sold the idea to Slumber Tsogwane. Slumber then sold the dummy to the faction as if it is something that he will think about it, only for him to straight away inform Masisi of the dangerous plan.
Reports within the BDP further suggest that a faction loyal to Khama has formed, all having something in common- feeling betrayed by Masisi. This faction is confident that they have the numbers this time around to remove Masisi. They point out that the last Motion of No Confidence did not see the light of the day because it was rushed and it had a wrong sponsor being the opposition. This time around, they want the motion to be led by the BDP itself. However for them to succeed in removing Masisi, the said BDP faction is also relying on opposition MPs.
But Masisi has dismissed what he calls “cynics” and is confident that he shall be on the driving seat for the next decade or so. Different BDP factions have been posturing themselves to the different ruling parties of the region as the go-to faction. Ruling parties of the region are important to the BDP in general for credibility, but more importantly to the African National Congress (ANC) as a source of business and campaign funding.
Apart from the BDP, the Botswana Defence Force is also said to be a split between those for Khama, and those for the sitting president Masisi. A campaign of ‘’we do not bow to a civilian’’ is making rounds within the barracks. The slogan is a derogative army term towards those who haven’t served in the army. These are seen a less qualified to lead. Some BDP Members of Parliament who spoke to this publication are confident that they will force President Masisi and former President Khama to the table for a clean talk.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.