The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee has backed down on the idea of cancelling next year’s party congresses and has since given President Mokgweetsi Masisi a blueprint on how to manoeuvre a transitional period marred by controversy.
Insiders point out that if President Masisi takes their advice he will be able to counter the so called “Khama magic” which seems to mar his Presidency. In July this year, party Secretary General, Mpho Balopi proposed to Ghanzi region that the National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC), Women Wing as well as the National Congress, all scheduled for next year, should not be held as expected.
Balopi and perhaps the party’s reasons to have the congresses postponed were premised on the fact that the party is going through a transition period, following the ascendance of Masisi to the party presidency in April this year. Intentions to have party congresses postponed were met with resistance by party structures and party veterans who believed the move is against the party constitution and its democratic credentials.
The party leadership has since bowed in and plotted another way in which Masisi could win the battle to win the soul of the party which has two centers of power – Masisi and his predecessor Lt Gen Ian Khama. Masisi, sources say, was given strategies by his colleagues in a meeting held on the 11th of this month. The idea is anchored on Masisi winning support from fellow democrats as the party will assemble for various congresses next year.
“The president should be surrounded by the people he trusts who can protect him and it is very imperative that all who win in the congresses next year should be sharing the same vision as him. Further he should be smart enough so that democrats give him the necessary support,” a BDP source said Wednesday afternoon. Masisi’s ascendance to the throne has been marred by fallout with his predecessor, with some believing that he is ill-treating his former boss, while others believe that Khama wants to undermine Masisi’s presidency.
Advisors, as part of the strategy, have told Masisi to claim ignorance on anything suggesting a ‘fallout’ between him and Khama and has since followed the script accordingly. “We asked him about the feud as we read and hear about it on the media and he said he should be given time to see if at all there is a fallout of which according to him it is just fiction from the media,” Kweneng West regional Chairperson Motlhophi Leo said.
Masisi visited the region on the 16th of this month as part of the plan to entrench himself on the BDP followers. There is an air of suspicion within the BDP multitudes that Khama who still enjoys support within the party will place his allies on some positions within the party committee. This is seen as a possible blow that could be devastating to Masisi’s rule as he would be surrounded by enemies who might even weaken him.
To this end Masisi has visited the two regions of Kweneng West and Central in a bid to have a firm grip on the party which seems to be undermining his authority. At the said meetings, it is indicated that he did what his advice-givers said, promising the party members that he will do everything to ensure they are happy.
“He promised us that he will consult his cabinet in the mid-term review next year to satisfy our needs. We have water problems, poor roads and no sewerage system. Further the government in initiatives are not enjoyed by all the people and should benefit,” Leo said. On the other hand in Serowe, it is said Masisi warned the militant central regions party members to register in large numbers as some await primary elections appeals to end.
“He wants all the constituencies back and he encouraged everyone to register for the elections and avoid using the Bulela Ditswe appeals as the excuses,” regional secretary Gase Rapelang said. Kweneng West is made up of four constituencies Molepolole South and Molepolole North, Takatokwane and Letlhakeng Lephepe. Two of these are under the opposition and Masisi has emphasised the need to wrestle them from the opposition next year. The entire five constituencies under the central region are under the BDP watch.
Apart from the two regions, the president is expected to tour all the 14 regions to understand challenges they face while also tilling the soil for both the party congresses and general elections next year. This weekend the party chairman Slumber Tsogwane will visit the Ngami region to replicate what Masisi has done. The other 11 regions according to the plan shall be addressed by the president.
BDP APPEALS DELAY IRKS MPs
With the BDP Appeals Committee still assessing various protests from those who lost in the primary elections, BDP Members of Parliament say it has stopped everything. One MP who spoke to this publication said he has long requested ministers to visit his constituency, but in vain since they are still awaiting judgement. “I have long asked them to visit my people here because we have so many issues including water and road challenges but the relevant ministries are reluctant,” he said.
He revealed that he suspect that should ministers lose appeals chances are they will sabotage everything of which it will be unfortunate. Backbenchers have been conducting kgotla meetings to update electorates on the decision taken in the last sitting of parliament. MPs are of the view that it is important to have ministers at those meetings to directly answer the enquiries from the public. The last sitting of parliament will commence on the 5th of next month.
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.