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Magosi brothers mediate Khama, Masisi

Former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama has acknowleged the role of DIS Director General Peter Magosi and Deputy Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Magosi is trying to smoothen his relationship with President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi. 

However he continues to ascribe the ongoing rift with his successor to the Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi. The former President has said he recently met Elias MAgosi and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs to iron out a few issues. He was hopeful that he would meet Masisi in due course but the tone of the President’s paragraph 270 in his state of the nation address surprised him. Khama rubbished Masisi’s take on their feud and called it regrettable. 

The ongoing disagreement between the two leaders which has been topical since Masisi took over as president on the 1st of April 2018, has lately caught the eye of international media. Concluding his address on Monday, Masisi finally admitted to Khama animosity.  “Batswana are all aware that the transition from the previous administration has not been as smooth as expected,” said Masisi. 

“However, it ought to be noted, I have in my attempt to smoothen the process engaged senior citizens namely; His Excellency Dr. Festus Mogae, His Honour Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, Honourable Ray Molomo, Honourable Patrick Balopi and Honourable David Magang to assist and lead in smoothening the transition. I regret to announce that their efforts have not borne fruit up to this point.” 

In his response to Masisi’s utterances former president Khama said he was shocked by the statement. He expressed shock that what happened in the SONA was probably Masisi trying to reason why up to now there has not been any progress in the reconciliation. “Is there any sincerity, genuineness and commitment in reconciliation if this kind of actions are still perpetuated”, asked Khama. The former president said quite recently they wrote an apology and reimbursed flight costs to Orapa and was very much impressed.

“It is regrettable that the statement given on the occasion of the SONA about the situation concerning two parties (Khama/ Masisi) reflected only one side without consultation with the other in order to give the nation a balanced perspective of progress on reconciliation or the lack,” reads part of the statement released by office of the former president Tuesday afternoon. The former president’s own version of events is that the transition went very smoothly as acknowledged both locally and internationally in that it was a transition from an incumbent leader to his successor. 

The transition according to Khama took place in the period leading up to the 1st April 2018 when Masisi became President and Khama a former President. That is when the transition ended. The period after the 1st April to date is post the transition as the leadership change had already taken place. 

The reference to the elders intervention not bearing fruit is partly true only because the current administration has constantly been engaged in actions against the former President which continued even after the elders were initially brought in, casting doubt on the administration’s sincerity, genuineness and commitment to reach reconciliation. These actions, wrongfully in nature, were proven as such by 5the recent private and public apology given by the administration for one such wrongful action and the reimbursement on its part for another. 

Khama continues to say however it is the opinion of the former president that these and other very recent positive developments led by Patrick Balopi representing the elders and other senior government officials has started to bring about a turning point for the better in the situation. Unfortunately the misleading statement in the SONA does not reflect this latest situation. Khama said he welcomes the role the elders have played thus far and wishes to thank them for their time spent and their effort in this regard and encourages them to remain engaged.

The former president further applauded the efforts of others attempting to resolve this undesirable situation and remains confident and committed to a resolution that will be arrived at hopefully sooner rather than later. The former BDP leader said if this is to be achieved both sides should refrain from actions that may be detrimental to achieving a positive outcome. 

Khama also took time to express gratitude to Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence Services Peter Magosi as well as Deputy Permanent Secretary to the President Elias Magosi for their efforts in trying to facilitate reconciliation. Khama’s countrywide Kgotla meetings has raised eyebrows and are alleged to insinuate political motives. However Khama has said as a Motswana he is free to hold Kgotla meetings because he is a Chief just like politicians, government officials and landboards.   

MASISI REMARKS DIVIDE THE BDP

Several ruling party legislators hayve broken ranks with Masisi over his remarks regarding the stand-off involving his and his predecessor. Many are of the view that it was unnecessary and that it may give the nation a sense of danger and political instability. Former BDP party and Tati East lawmaker, Samson Guma has told WeekendPost Monday after SONA that the statement was not necessary. Guma later reiterated his stance on a local radio this week that Masisi and his predecessor Ian Khama have channels in which they could talk. Guma said there can never be a vacuum in leadership and both men know better.

 “It is premature for us to say there is leadership crisis. There is a leadership matter which requires both of them to rise up and lead. The other one is a president and other a paramount chief, “he said. However Guma said Masisi should act within the confinement of the law and Khama should know that the law is there to guide them. 

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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