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UDC kicks out BMD, at last…

Leader of Opposition in parliament and president of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Duma Gideon Boko has finally sent the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) to the backwoods of opposition politics.  

Boko said he took the decision to expel the BMD together with the leadership of other affiliate parties Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). BMD has been given 30 days to appeal to the UDC national congress. Speaking at a press conference this week to announce the expulsion, the UDC leader said “we took the decision after careful examination of the BMD response that they failed to address the accusations levelled against them. That the totality of those accusations indicates that they acted against the interest of the UDC and in violation of the UDC constitution.”

Boko also asserted that their conduct subsequent to their suspension “exhibited total disregard and disrespect for the leadership of the UDC, its processes and structures.” And, he further pointed out that “the entirety of their conduct merits serious attention by the UDC and the decision was then taken that the BMD be and is expelled from the UDC.”

The UDC leader emphasised to the press that therefore it is the decision and it is in terms of the UDC constitution that they have the right of appeal within 30 days to the national congress of the UDC. “It is for them to exercise those rights if they so wish to do,” Boko lambasted. He also said that they know fully and understand that prior to reaching the decision they are certain that processes have been engaged in various places, wards, certain representatives, and that councillors have been given due processes from their respective organisations to represent the UDC.

He added that all those processes have concluded that in relation to the BMD that certain councillors that were identified and went through the due process should continue to represent the UDC. He said of the BMD councillors: “such councillors remain protected as representatives of the UDC now going forward. They will not lose their status as councillors of the UDC. We make special mention of this so that people don’t get alarmed. People understand that those who have gone through primary elections and have been identified remain in post ready to represent.”

Why the BMD is ultimately expelled

In justifying why BMD was eventually expelled, Boko said that the BMD misbehaved following their suspension. We raised with them certain issues that in terms of our constitution we categorise as acting against the interest of the UDC, he highlighted. “The BMD held a number of rallies after suspension. You know tenderness sometimes you allow some people a little of space to experience what is it outside the fold and how life is. And I hope comrades have realised and learned a few lessons. At least at that time they were on suspension and they have been given time to respond and they have responded,” Boko said.

The Gaborone Bonnington North leader added that now the situation is different as they are now expelled and UDC will engage with them as non-members of the party and deal with any behaviour that purports to be any representative of the UDC if it is undertaken by non-members and that they will deal with those. He added that but they cannot anticipate what the BMD might do or say.

Boko further explained: “as long as you are not in the fold but outside what right do you have then that you represent yourself as part of the collective? The collective can decide whether it wants you or doesn’t; whether you serve its interest or not; and whether you have acted against those interests. It is a political question whether you act in the interest of the UDC and it is also a decision to be taken politically.”

The BNF leader observed that the only quarrel one might have is if they have taken that political decision procedurally and “I believe we have.” Boko stressed that when the collective takes that decision to say it is not in the interest of the UDC then “no court in the world can say this is in the interest of the UDC. It’s not a call for the court to make but it is for the UDC to make. Courts don’t run political parties. Courts have even said it many times that politicians must not run to courts when they cannot take political decisions.”

Boko said the decision to expel BMD took only a paltry one hour

The leader of Opposition in parliament reminisced that leading to the suspension and ultimate expulsion, the UDC NEC pointed to certain matters that were put to them and gave them time to respond. They were to respond by the 18th of October 2018 and they did respond on the date, Boko confirmed while adding that the UDC NEC then met on Wednesday in Francistown to deliberate on BMD verdict.

He continued “meeting was efficient, we started at 3pm and looked at the issues in the most efficient manner and was done in about an hour. So let’s misspell the myth that we were there until midnight.” He said they looked at the response from the BMD and in that response what was transversed at length was what they call procedural and technical objections. Boko said one of them they say is that the BCP is not a member of the UDC.

“I have dealt with this issues so many times at different for and I have put it to rest. It’s dead and buried. BCP is a member of the UDC. We have held many meetings with the BCP. We even held a constitutional congress with the BCP in full attendance and participation. We hold the firm view and we are unmoved that the BCP is a member.” The BPP, he said has also participated fully in all the processes and decisions that have led to the BMD expulsion.

Galebotswe, Kapinga, Bayford to lead UDC national safety, security

In the process of preparing 2019 manifesto Boko said they have identified the Vice President of the UDC Dumelang Saleshando as the focal person in the leadership who will spearhead the preparation and issue of the manifesto. As part of that process, “we have set up a team that will advise the UDC leadership on issues of national safety and security. I want to announce that team here and now. We have Lt. Gen Gaolatlhe Galebotswe, immediate former commander of the BDF. Second is Kenny Kapinga and last is Dick Bayford. That’s the team that will be handling advice to the leadership of the UDC on national safety and security and involved in manifesto of such matters.”  

UDC to take over BMD constituencies

In relation to BMD legislators, Gilbert Mangole representing Mochudi West and Molepolole South’s Tlamelo Mmatli, Boko said the first category is that the two sitting MP’s remain BMD and UDC until they themselves pronounce whether they are still on UDC ticket or another. “Their situation don’t change until they change it themselves or the UDC doing it if it has to because it still can.”

The second category, he added that it is of constituencies given to the BMD and which remain in that situation because as they say the BMD has 30 days to appeal to the congress and they must be given time and that period to exercise their choice.
“After the 30 days, if they don’t appeal, the constituencies will now be looked at by the UDC as they are held by the constituent party for and on behalf of the UDC. After then we will find the candidates regardless of where they come from, and we will deploy them and facilitate that they represent the UDC,” he said. 

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Greef reports Madigele to Tsogwane

20th June 2022

Gaborone Bonnignton South Member of Parliament (MP) Christian Greef has submitted a letter of complaint to party chairman Slumber Tosogwane to take stern action against former minister Dr Alfred Madigele for causing chaos in the constituency.

There has been simmering tension between the two in Gaborone Bonnignton South, where former minister Dr. Madigele is said to be busy working the ground with the intention of contesting the constituency in 2024.  Greef is said to have fallen out of favour with the party top hierarchy due to his association with the beleaguered party secretary general Mpho Balopi, something which he says is “unfounded”.  Greef told this publication that “there are some with mischievous attempts here, but I will sort them out.”

Insiders, however, reveal that it is Madigele who has been causing unrest in the constituency as he plots his comeback to parliament in 2024. This is notwithstanding the fact that Madigele has also been promised the position of secretary general, should the party faithful ratify a proposal by the party politburo to reconfigure the position.

However, Madigele does not want to count on the SG position, hence the decision to to contest the Gaborone Bonnington South constituency. There are reports that there is a spirited campaign by some party members to reject a mulled plan to have the SG being a full-time employee of the party.  This has irked Greef and has since approached the party structures for redress. “We are writing this letter to issue a complaint regarding misconduct by certain members of the BDP in our constituency.

There are several incidents where these individuals have been causing uncalled-for disruptions during party activities in Gaborone Bonnington South,” a letter penned by Greef, addressed to the regional chairperson, reads. He further added, “The group of people who are causing all these unnecessary tension in our constituency is identified and allegedly known by Madigele’s teams who is said to be campaigning for 2023 primary elections.

As the branch we witnessed the same team with similar misconduct during Bophirima Ward by election which we believe caused the party to lose the ward and continue to bring the image of the party in disrepute.” Lately, Madigele has relocated to the same constituency and that has created anxiety to Greef who is a first-time MP. Greef is concerned about how his rival was accepted in his constituency without his knowledge. If he had his wish, he would kick out Madigele from the constituency.

Greef, in another letter copied to President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and Chairman Slumber Tsogwane, says Madigele has brought the branch into disarray by campaigning for a parliamentary seat contrary to the party’s regulations for conduct of primary elections. “I therefore humbly appeal to you to call Dr Madigele, who is not a member of our branch, to order,” he said.  Party officials in the region are aware of the matter; some say the MP’s complaint is baseless. However, the MP, according to sources, will fight to the bitter end to ensure that his arch rival is purged out.

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Katlholo’s lawyers slap DCEC with bill in its row with DIS

20th June 2022
Tymon Katlholo

Monthe and Marumo Attorneys who are representing suspended Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo in a legal dispute pitting him against the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have said that they would submit a legal bill to the agency.

This was after DCEC’s acting Director General, Tshepo Pilane had written a letter to the law firm demanding that some files and documents belonging to the agency be returned.  “We refer to your letter dated 3rd June 2022 wherein you advised of termination of our mandate. In view thereof we have to file a notice of withdrawal as attorneys of record for and on behalf of the Organisation (DCEC),” Monthe Marumo Attorneys said in their letter.

The lawyers also indicated that, “the firm is in the process of finalizing your invoice and upon settlement of same, we will duly release the contents of the file, in so far as it relate to DCEC.”  Pilane had informed the law firm that, “Following the Directorate’s termination of any and/or mandate between the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and your law firm and/or attorney of an Associate law firm of Monthe Marumo and Company on the 3rd June 2022.”

He added that, “I do hereby request that all DCEC documents in custody be returned to the DCEC on or before 12hours today the 6th June 2022. You are also informed that none of this information shall be used by your office under any circumstances.”  Meanwhile Katlholo has told the High Court that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security was on the rampage as it continues to act with impunity.

He revealed this in an urgent application in which he seeks among others that Pilane, Deputy Director General of DCEC Priscilla Israel and the agency’s senior legal advisor Edwin Batsalwelang to be committed to jail for contempt of a court. The Court order had directed that a deputy sheriff should collect files and dockets from the DCEC office and place them into the custody of the Court.  “Consequent to the order of his Lordship, the DISS has continued on its rampage and has arrested two officers of the DCEC and detained them in a Hitler style arrangement,” said Katlholo.

He added that, quite clearly the “DISS with the assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents seeks to conceal all the evidence by obstructing Judicial process.”  He said his latest current application has been brought at the earliest opportunity following defiance and acts of obstruction at the instance of the respondents. Katlholo saidthe conduct of the Pilane, Israel, Batsalelwang and DIS are an aggression on the rule of law, the Constitution of Botswana and the Judiciary in general.

“The DISS clearly has every intention of continuing to defy my rights and with the due assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents (Pilane, Israel and Batsalelwang). To refuse an interdict, thereby allowing the perpetration of an ongoing wrong is an anathema to the principle of legality,” said Katlholo. He said, “The DISS cannot be allowed to continue acting in contravention of the law, and to fragrantly invade an act of Parliament.”

He reiterated that the files or documents or dockets remain vulnerable and there is need that they be removed from the office and placed in the custody of the Registrar. There can never be a safe place than Court, said Katlholo.  “Should the matter not be heard as urgent, the likelihood of the files concerned and the information therein dissipating or being interfered with is high and once the evidence of the concerned files has been compromised or contaminated there is no other relief in law that fix such, there is therefore no alternative remedy,” he said.

Katlholo added that, “Most importantly, any unwarranted access to the files may compromise the integrity of ongoing investigations and expose informants and whistleblowers. Once they have been compromised, no court action may restore such.”  He said it was necessary and extremely urgent that the Court steps in to protect the rule of law against the respondents, more particularly the DIS and its agents.

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US monitoring Thuso Tiego arrests

20th June 2022
Thuso Tiego

The United States through its State Department’s annual report on global religious freedoms is keeping tabs on Botswana’s decision to arrest of controversial pastor Thuso Tiego by the police.

The report was released a week ago.  Tiego was re-arrested this week by the police after he allegedly attempted to spearhead a campaign aimed at shutting down some shops that are run by foreigners. The US’ State Department report says Police arrested a pastor from the Bethel Transfiguration Church September 7 when he tried to deliver a petition to President Mokgweetsi Masisi demanding his resignation over what the pastor said was mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis.

“The pastor, Thuso Tiego, also criticized the government for restricting religious gatherings at a time when he said that individuals turned to churches for counselling and support during the pandemic,” the report says.  It says Tiego was held overnight at a police station and released without charge.  The report cites media reports saying that several of his supporters were beaten by police when they gathered outside the station demanding Tiego’s release.

“The national police service did not announce any disciplinary action against the officers involved,” the report says adding that, “The constitution provides for freedom of religion, with certain exceptions, and protection against governmental discrimination based on creed.”
On other related issues, the report said the government continued to pursue court cases involving unregistered churches (sometimes called “fire churches”) coming into the country to “take advantage of” local citizens by demanding tithes and donations for routine services or special prayers.

“The government required pastors of some of those churches to apply for visas – even those from countries whose nationals were normally allowed visa-free entry.  The government said in June 2019 that it was reviewing the visa policy for these foreign pastors, but by year’s end had not released the results of this review or announced any changes,” the report says.   According to the report, former members of one of the most prominent unregistered churches forced to close in 2019, the Enlightened Christian Gathering, subsequently formed their own smaller, independent churches with local leadership that was ultimately registered by the government.

The report says, under the COVID-19 state of emergency that ended in September, the government limited attendance at religious services to no more than 50 persons at one time and limited services to twice a week.  The government also banned all religious gatherings during “extreme social distancing” periods.  Although the limits on religious gatherings lasted 18 months and prevented some individuals from fully practicing their faith, most religious groups did not say their freedom of religion was being restricted and stated that the extraordinary measures were necessary for public health

The report says the US Embassy officials engaged with Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and other religious representatives to discuss religious freedom, interreligious relations, and community engagement. “Topics included government tolerance of minority religious groups, the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on religious expression, and interfaith cooperation to address community challenges,” the report says.

The report says under its broader protections of freedom of conscience, the constitution provides for freedom of thought and religion, the right to change religion or belief, and the right to manifest and propagate religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance.
It says the constitution’s provision of rights also prohibits discrimination based on creed.

The constitution permits the government to restrict these rights in the interest of protecting the rights of other persons, national defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health when the restrictions are deemed “reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.”   “The state of emergency imposed from March 2020 to September 2021 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which capped the size of regular religious gatherings and meetings, was the first time the government ever exercised this provision,” the report says.

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