Former President, Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama has received requests from scores of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary candidates who want him to launch them ahead of next year’s general elections.
Because of the former President’s ongoing acrimonious relationship with the BDP hierarchy, he says he can only help launch individuals within the party. Khama said he has agreed with those that have won their primary elections and have no pending appeals. However Khama says he will not agree to be officially part of the BDP general election campaign in 2019.
Before he vacated the position of President of the Republic, Khama was scheduled to be the chief campaigner for the BDP next year but things took a twist as soon as his estranged relationship with State President, Mokgweetsi Masisi played out. “So far five Parliamentary candidates would want me to launch them and I have agreed. I must make it clear that I will be working with individuals who want my help,” he said.
The list of candidates that could possibly be launched by the former President can be deduced from his ongoing visits to constituencies since retiring from the Presidency. Just this week, he was at Ignatius Moswaane’s backyard; before the primary elections he effectively launched Buti Billy and Francisco Kgoboko among others. He has also visited Ministers Thapelo Olopeng and Dorcas Makgato constituencies as part of his charitable work, which he has pledged to continue doing after retiring from the presidency.
BDP parliamentary candidates’ launches can be done by senior figures in the party who can influence crowds such as the President of the party, the Vice President, and other party elders. From the former President’s statement it is apparent that he is going to be busy with launching BDP parliamentary candidates in the last quarter of 2019.
KHAMA BLASTS MPHO BALOPI
For the very first time, Khama has openly spoken out about his former Secretary General, Mpho Balopi who he has joined forces to undermine him. According to the former President, he helped campaign for Balopi to be secretary general of the party, “I am surprised by his attitude towards me,” he said. Khama pointed out that Balopi is probably trying to ingratiate himself to the President at “my expense”.
“During my time we had a very good relationship but I don’t know why things changed after 1st April 2018. My view is that even if I am not in the structures anymore we could still continue enjoying the good relationship.” Balopi is one of the early birds in the 2019 general election campaigns after he was nominated to represent the BDP in the Gaborone North constituency. He is on ground making donations, supporting courses in the constituency, and has bought six vehicles to help push the voter registration exercise in the constituency.
As Balopi is on a win at all costs strategy, Khama has made it clear that he will not support him in his bid to win the constituency. There are reports that Mpho Balopi is eyeing the position of Vice President after next year’s general election hence his inspired push in Gaborone north constituency. However former President Khama is very skeptical that as to whether the BDP secretary general will make it to the finishing line in that constituency which is currently held by the opposition Alliance for Progressives’ Haskins Nkaigwa.
The former President also commented on Mpho Balopi’s chances in the Vice Presidency race, “Even if he is eyeing the vice presidency, he still needs to work hard because he needs people to follow him. We know that the President nominates a name and that name must have the support of Members of Parliament. If they reject the name it becomes something else. If that [becoming Vice President] is his objective it is going to be a hard thing, it will be difficult for him.”
KHAMA COMMENTS ON CONGRESS POSTPONEMENT
The former President has also expressed concern that there are some in the BDP who are working towards postponing the elective congress slated for next year. “But they can’t do that because that will be unconstitutional,” he said. Khama said: “What interests me is that some of them [those linked to the postponement of the congress] are the same people who were commending me for abiding by the constitution and not trying to extend my term in office. In the past they have said I am a soldier and will not vacate the office but these are the same people who are said to be the ones who want to change the BDP constitution so it can accommodate them”.
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.