The Leader of Opposition (LOO) Advocate Duma Boko has said it is about time President Mokgweetsi Masisi accounts for corruption milking this country’s economy.When responding to the Masisi’s inaugural State of Nation Address (SONA), Boko stated that the country is still swindled with corruption that need to be accounted for.
The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president said the current president took office when the country was mired in corruption and cruel waste of public resources arguing that the National Petroleum Fund saga is still fresh in people’s minds therefore needs to be addressed. “The state was swindled no less than 240 million pula. So far only three pawns in a grand scheme are facing prosecution,” Boko explains.
The leader of opposition argued that the President has become a recurrent decimal in the NPF saga. He boldly pointed that Masisi should account and face up to answers Batswana long to hear when it comes to corruption.He suggested that the solution to these is a comprehensive and thorough forensic audit of the NPF with all procedures and processes related to its management and operation.
“We reject any process that would place the President in any position of control over such audit,” he said. Boko referred to the Morupule B project and how it gobbled up in excess of P 10 billion of public resources with no results to show and yet no one has been held accountable. “In excess of P300 million was thrown down the drain in Palapye’s ill-fated glass project,” Boko said. Adding on to the Morupule B project failure, Boko said that the BDP and all its Members of Parliament (MPs) have the blood of innocent citizens on their hands.
“We know that more than 10 miners committed suicide as a result of the closure of BCL. About 20 000 BCL related jobs were lost in Selibe Phikwe and thousands more people in the rest of the SPEDU region have been thrown into poverty,” he emphasised.Boko worried that the President found space in his SONA for micro projects in other areas but could not find space to openly and publicly apologize to and empathise with the people of Selibe Phikwe over the government’s termination of the mainstay of their economy.
“Government have a duty to defend jobs. Your government failed the people of Selibe Phikwe and its environs. BCL needed U$ 2 million (about P21 million) to stay afloat until the market normalised, but the government shut it down. The human cost of the decision is yet to be determined,” he pointed out.
Government closed BCL against the advice of management and experts outside the company, without any rigorous cost-benefit analysis. Boko says at the time of closure the price of copper was US$ 2/lb., below BCL’s projected trading price. Commodities were needed to rebound and BCL needed US$ 2 million to stay afloat.Boko directly took shots at the Masisi for not being serious about fighting corruption.
“Over at the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund, millions of worker’s pension investments have been plundered and wasted, with the President’s chief aide frequently linked to impropriety in this saga. Yet in his SONA the President speaks passively about anti-corruption. He says oversight institutions continue to enforce the rule of law. Which rule of law? ” Boko adds. Clarifying on the issue of corruption the opposition leader said corruption in the country is pervasive and institutionalised referring it to a prominent feature of the state of the nation.
“We would like to see your government getting tough on corruption and that involves investigating all the BDP big wigs who have ever been awarded a tender by government as well as all those who have been served and continue to serve in the boards of State-owned enterprises,” he said. Boko said the country is facing a serious human development crisis and a gravely imperilled future, noting that the country is sitting on a powder keg of pervasive poverty, debilitating unemployment, deepening inequality and increasing despair.
“Nearly one in five Batswana subsist below the official poverty line. An almost equal proportion of citizens who want to work and are able to work (17.7 percent) are without a job,” Boko added. Furthermore, he condemned the rejection by the Parliament, supposedly at the instigation of Masisi, of the decent/living wage of P3000 tabled by Shaun Nthaile early this year.
“We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to a decent /living wage of P3000. We call upon this government to commit to this decent/living wage and the pursuit of a high wage economy. It is an ethical and economic imperative for work to provide sufficient income for working people to meet essential costs of living,” Boko pleaded. In conclusion the leader of the opposition pleaded with the public to register in large numbers to vote. He said it is essential that they practice their democratic right.“To the people of this country I say please register to vote in large numbers, so you can participate in the opportunity of a lifetime,” Boko concluded.
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.