Two renowned Advocates in Botswana, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Advocate President Duma Boko and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) leader Advocate Sidney Pilane are geared for a nasty showdown on the interpretation of the constitution of the UDC.
UDC is a coalition consisting of the Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and BMD which is headed by Pilane. This week, the leadership of the UDC, comprising mainly of BNF and BCP executive members announced a decision to suspend from the coalition for 14 days pending final decision. The decision has certainly set in motion a legal battle regarding the rights and powers of the contracting partners and the party National Executive Committee (NEC).
While Pilane has been adamant that the UDC is not registered as a political party but just a conglomerate in accordance with its constitution Boko says otherwise – that it is a political party in its context. Pilane has stressed several times in the media and public that the “UDC is not a political party per se, but only an electoral arrangement.” Boko refuted Pilane this week at a press conference in Gaborone announcing the suspension of BMD that UDC is a political formation.
The UDC leader reminisced on the only judgement that justifies his position that was passed by the former Judge Peter Collins in the matter between BPP and Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM). He said Judge Collins made a finding in that case that BAM is not a political party but a coalition saying the reason is that, on the constitution and the way BAM was configured, to the extent that there was no individual membership, BAM only had provision for group membership.
“It could therefore not be a political party. That’s what he says. However the UDC does not fall in that boat because the UDC in its constitution has provision for individual membership,” Boko said. So, he added that on the criteria led by Judge Collins UDC is a political party and so if anybody wants to engage and debate on this matter anywhere, in the courts; both the formal and the courts of public opinion, its Cadit quaestio. In legal contexts, cadit quaestio is a latin used to indicate that an issue is no longer in question, often because a dispute (question) between two parties has either been settled, or dropped.
ON WHICH UDC CONSTITUTION REMAINS IN EFFECT
According to Boko, the constitution of the UDC was registered on the 23 August 2012 and it is that constitution that still applies until it is lawfully and properly amended and duly replaced. Pilane also believes that the current constitution is the one that was registered in 2012 which he adds that it recognises only the founding members in BNF, BMD and BPP and not the BCP.
ON WHETHER BCP A FULL MEMBER OF UDC
The BMD leader has also indicated that, as of now, BCP has not been formally admitted into the UDC, until a new constitution is submitted to the Register of Societies. Pilane and BPP leadership has presented one to the Registrar nullifying the one submitted by Boko and Saleshando recently. Pilane has stated several times that the BCP is not a member of the umbrella coalition as per the party constitution.
On his part Boko this week clarified that the said constitution of the UDC is that following the conclusions that took place after 2014 General elections the “BCP became a full member of UDC and that situation has not changed, it’s still remains extant.”
ON CONSTITUENCIES: FOR UDC OR INDIVIDUAL PARTIES?
Under the current arrangement of the umbrella, BNF was allocated 22 constituencies, BCP 17, BMD 14 with BPP having only 4. Pilane has emphasised that they have 14 constituencies and that nobody, not the UDC nor anyone else, is going to tell them how to deal with their constituencies, and nobody is going to vet their candidates because they have deliberated and agreed on that matter.
“UDC is not entitled to dictate to the constituent parties how and what they should do in respect of its own matters including constituencies. Let us be clear about this,” Pilane has told Boko previously. However this week Boko asserted that the constituencies belong to the UDC as a collective. Each political party that has been assigned a set of certain particular constituencies, he said has been given the responsibility on behalf of the collective and that the constitution of the collective, the one that they have, says all this parties are allowed ultimately ‘subject to regulation by the collective.’
Boko highlighted: “So it is not something that we plugged from the air but comes from the constitution of the UDC. Each party brings its candidates and they are subject to scrutiny and examination by the collective. BNF, BCP, BPP and BMD have always understood that at some point they will have to submit to an audit by the collective. UDC has a right to pronounce on candidates if they have evidence against them. Its quality assurance to make sure that UDC is represented by the best.”
BOKO FINALLY PRONOUNCES PILANE SUSPENSION
The UDC President has said they have received fierce feedback regarding the BMD leader Sidney Pilane, which is very negative and very uncomplimentary which has tend to affect the UDC leadership as a whole. He said that these things happen and when they respond, they do so because reality compels them to do so and not necessarily that anybody has done any wrong.
“And so when these issues were now reaching a fever peach, boiling on, we convened on the 15th of September to reflect as UDC leadership. And return we did, yesterday in which UDC NEC appreciating the seriousness of the issues and the urgency of dealing with them and also alive to the constitutional imperative that binds us to justice came to a final point where the UDC NEC took a decision to suspend the BMD.”
The BMD was as a result given the opportunity to respond to the issues within 14 days or not later that the 18th of October 2018. At that time the Gaborone Bonnington North lawmaker said they would have made their representations to the NEC and that is when any final decisions will be taken. Meanwhile Pilane has recently told Boko and Saleshando that they have no powers to suspend or expel them or BMD from the UDC.
“The UDC is not competent to decide who may represent the BMD in the UDC NEC, nor is it empowered to suspend or expel the BMD from the UDC,” he said then. The contentious leader explained that the relationship inter se of the parties which are members of the UDC as a coalition is a contractual one, and the agreed UDC constitution does not give any contracting party or parties’ authority to suspend or expel another contracting party.
“Even if the UDC had such power, which it does not, it would be able to do so only after due process, which has not been extended. Such a process is not worth undertaking because it would be stillborn,” the BMD leader observed. Neither the BMD nor I have received any communication from anybody concerning any intended or actual suspension or expulsion, he said adding that “if we should, it would not be worth the paper it is written on.”
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.