October 13, 2018 marks a rare but major milestone in the history of the University of Botswana. For the first time since its establishment 36 years ago, Mmadikolo will see three of its alumni notching up some of the highest honours in a university setup in a single day.
Thus, the University of Botswana will confer Honorary Doctorate on His Excellency, the President, Mr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, at its 36th Graduation Ceremony on 13th October 2018. President Masisi is a graduate of the University of Botswana where he trained as a teacher in Secondary Education, majoring in English and History. He is the first University of Botswana graduate to become its Chancellor, a position he was appointed to on July 17 2017 but which he relinquished when he became President of the Republic of Botswana on April 1, 2018. He is also the first former student to hold the position of President of the Republic of Botswana.
On the same day, former Bank of Botswana Governor, Ms Linah Mohohlo, another former student who read accounting and business, economics, finance and investments, will be inaugurated as the 5th Chancellor of the University of Botswana. Ms Mohohlo was appointed Chancellor on July 19, 2018 as per Section 7 (1) of the University of Botswana Act of 2008. Her appointment also makes her the first woman, second former student and third none head of state to hold such a position. The appointment of a Chancellor who is not a sitting president follows amendment of the University of Botswana Act in 2008 detaching the position of Chancellor from the first office of the land – the presidency of the Republic.
Ms Mohohlo is an experienced leader who has served in different capacities locally and internationally. She has a firm and grounded understanding of the University which she had been serving in various capacities over the years, notably as the Deputy Chairman of the UB Foundation.
Another former student, Professor David Norris, who graduated with BSc in Biology and Physics in 1988, will be inaugurated as the 6th Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana. Since its inception in 1982, UB has had five Vice Chancellors in Professor John Turner (1982-1984), Professor Thomas Tlou (1984-1998), Professor Sharon Siverts (1998-2003), Professor Bojosi Otlhogile (2003-2011) and Professor Thabo Fako (2011-2017).
Prior to joining UB, Professor Norris was Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BUIST), a position he had held since 2016. Previously, he worked for the University of Limpopo ((formerly University of the North), South Africa from 20016 to 2016. He also worked for Austin Peay State University, USA from 1998 to 2000.
Meanwhile, the Chancellor, Ms Mohohlo, will thereafter confer degrees and diplomas on 2 273 graduands. The number comprises 16 PhDs, five Mphil, 221 Masters Degrees, 1 702 Bachelor Degrees, 189 Post Graduate Diplomas and 140 Diplomas.
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.