Storm clouds are gathering for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in the Takatokwane constituency with party members already signing a petition seeking to reverse the decision to grant the incumbent Member of Parliament a re-run.
The incumbent MP Ngaka Ngaka who is also the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology (MOTE) lost against rival Friction Leuwe in the August held primary elections. Ngaka had appealed the results citing some irregularities. Last week the party Central Committee ordered a re-run for the constituency on Ditshegwane and Motokwe wards. This has been met with resistance from the constituency with party members saying the decision was pre-meditated hence it should never see the light of the day.
Already, sources say, the petition is doing rounds in the constituency to reverse the decision, threatening not vote in the next year’s general elections should the party not accede to their demands. It is said the petition vows that failure by the party to work with the other structures they will vote the opposition which will be represented by Botswana National Front (BNF)’s Filbert Nagafela. “I just collected the letter ordering the re-run, and yes members are against the decision and they are saying they will not vote,” Leuwe said.
“There was a meeting this past weekend where they told me their intentions and I pleaded with them to respect the party decision,” he added when asked about the petition. The unhappy members argue that Ngaka who is an additional member of the BDP Central Committee, long knew about a re-run and he mobilised his campaign team on the two wards billed for the contest. “When he said there will be a re-run we dismissed that, but it appears he was told from one of the CC meetings,” pointed out a source.
The petition was initially expected to be given to party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane who has since directed that it must be sent to party Secretary General, Mpho Balopi. “True, I did talk to Chairman and said the letter should be brought to Balopi who will then present the matter at a CC meeting,” said Leuwe. Though Leuwe could not reveal much of what they talked about with Tsogwane, it is said the latter called for calm and promised to visit the constituency as party will be the biggest loser should the members insist on their intent.
For his part Ngaka has revealed that he is not aware of the petition and he is just mobilising the voters as he warms up to the re-run. “I am running around the constituency luring voters,” he said. “I only learnt about the re-run after a central committee meeting on Wednesday last week so it is not true that I could have known about it in advance,” he said in a telephone interview. Other sources however agree with the party decision to grant a re-run as a number of primary election rules and regulations were breached.
“People who were not in the voters roll were allowed to vote while those who registered could not and others who do not reside in the constituency voted. So there were a number of irregularities which points back to the whole Primary elections system,” shared a party member in the region. Prior to the elections, Ngaka had lodged a protest: “I did protest because there were lots of irregularities regarding elections. The region assessed the merits of my case and then forwarded to the appeals board who then took the decision,” he said.
OTHER REGIONS OKAY BDP DECISION
Meanwhile other regions where re-runs have been ordered agree with the party. They point out to breach of rules and regulations guiding the primary elections as the main factor. From Bobonong, Thatayaone Ditirwa who is the branch chairman says the party did all well. “We have written a number of letters disputing the results and we are glad they listened to us. Starting from former President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s scathing attack to the bullying that happened on the Election Day we are happy.”
The constituency will see rivals Shaw Kgathi and Francisco Kgoboko lock horns again. Kgalagadi North’s Kerakile Leshophe also concurred with the party. “Only MP appealed after the elections but we never heard anything from councilors so we are surprised as to how they got re-runs. But the mayhem that occurred is from the party office,” he said. This re-run will see cabinet minister Itumeleng Moipisi facing-off with businesswoman, Talita Monnakgotla.
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.