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Botswana won’t bow down for aid

London: Far from it, President Mokgweetsi Masisi is not crawling, kneeling and making a curtsy to the mighty West for financial assistance when he talks “…stakeholders to come up with concrete solutions that will help governments eliminate the illegal trade in wildlife species…,” he elaborated to the Botswana media team during a press briefing.

Instead, Masisi is making a call-to-action to those same constituents who scream the loudest whenever they hear of destruction of animals to put their dollars where their mouths are because as it is, by preserving, conserving and nurturing the species, Botswana is shouldering her responsibility and duty to manage the wildlife in the way that it is sustainable for future generations to enjoy.

“I am calling these nations to action. I am not bowing down before anyone for aid. I am simply asking them to shoulder a responsibility. The eco-system must balance out between human and wildlife and that is where the international community as a stakeholder needs to hold their end of the bargain. The rhetoric must be matched with responsibility,” Masisi explained.

He said while the United Kingdom government has made a public pledge of £15 million to help nations to address the worldwide phenomenon of poaching, especially in Africa, his government will readily accept the financial aid and technical assistance to the department of wildlife and national parks, provided there are no strings attached.

“Such aid will be received on our terms, make no mistake. As a government, we will go back to assess the conditions of such assistance and see if it aligns with our national prioritisation of ending human-animal conflict. Sustainable tourism for me can only mean the communities where such activities take place benefit from the management of the resource,” Masisi emphasised.

Hours before flying out to London, the President had made a promise that his participation at the illegal wildlife trade conference would be “the beginning of a lasting campaign” by which he meant that the individuals who were mobilising members to sign up to an online petition would be met with a robust truth-telling crusade made up of the best thinkers around media-crisis managers in his delegation.

“Their content was fallacious. It was not based on any science or research but pretence and fiction. It was so much further away from the truth and we were armed with the truth, had it come to us being petitioned as we anticipated. They reported that there was a spike in poaching and linked that imagined perception with the disarmament of the anti-poaching unit.

They portrayed me and my administration as failing the voiceless animals, and giving credit to the previous administration in the conservation of our wildlife. I will be the first to admit that we are two distinct persons and that in my administration, people will come first and the animals second. This, I am not apologetic about.

The truth is that the elephant population had increased exponentially and phenomenally, something ought to be done to make sure our children go to school, parents go about their businesses without risking death from these animals in communities where they live,” Masisi stated.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021

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.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

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.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021

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.

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