Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has hinted the likelihood of quitting the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in favour of the anticipated new party following a fallout with his successor President Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi.
In an exclusive interview with WeekendPost last week, Khama confirmed that he is aware of the new party that allegedly being formed by some disgruntled members of the ruling party but he would not divulge much information. “I have heard of a number of things in the offering, but the formation of a new party is not something unusual. I can confirm, it’s been a while rumours of a new party making rounds but we are now at a stage where we have passed rumours but it is something credible now,” said Khama.
The former president said he is not aware of the people behind the formation of the party, but indicated that should they approach him for support, they will have to convince him to join. “If they give me an opportunity, I will have to weigh my options. I am a very loyal person but that is not to say I wouldn’t move but I have to be convinced,” said Khama. He said if he does not agree with the recent BDP policies, he has to reconsider his future. Khama, who is of the view that he is sabotaged by the current regime, said this is not the first time such things happen.
The former BDP leader said allegations of the party leader being challenged next year are very credible. “As a party and country we should always strive to have the best candidates, if a challenger is someone credible, I will support them,” he said. “But from what I have gathered so far, the challenger is someone credible, this is something that has been planned and has been in the pipeline. It has now gained momentum and has also gone beyond a rumour,” Khama said.
Details of the new party in the offing have been making rounds lately but it is not clear who is the mastermind behind the party but fingers are pointing at the disgruntled former BDP leader. It is also alleged that to take cover, Khama will not be the man in the forefront but he has declined any involvement and distanced himself from the developments. By nature a populist and a loved man in the BDP circles Khama has loyal followers and some have come out in the open to declare their support for him despite Masisi being the new boss. However, Khama said he would not agree to the idea of standing for any position in the party in the near future.
ON TSHEKEDI KHAMA’S PRESIDENTIAL AMBITIONS
Khama’s outspoken young brother Tshekedi Khama has been making headlines recently in the local media asserting his ambitions of becoming president. Khama has however said TK has never shared with him his presidential ambitions but indicated that time will tell. The former president said when TK arrived in parliament, he was just an ordinary Member of Parliament but he was appointed a full minister because he worked hard for it and deserved the appointment.
“I do not want to talk about him because he is my brother but the fact that I appointed him is because he is credible and has done exceptionally well for the tourism ministry with passion,” said Khama of his younger brother. “We usually share a lot with TK but even when we are home he never shared with me his ambitions of becoming president. Politics is very funny, suppose next year he will no longer be interested and want to do something else. Time will tell.”
KHAMA QUESTIONS BULELA DITSWE
Khama has come out in open to criticise the party’s primary elections arrangement known as Bulela Ditswe because it has proved to be problematic. He said every time after Bulela Ditswe there are lot of appeals that distabilise the party and resulting in others becoming Mekoko or forming new parties citing irregularities in the manner in which elections were conducted. Khama contends that this calls for a new policy that will ensure that losing candidates are satisfied and accept the outcome of the primary elections.
After Khama stepped down from the presidency and handed the baton to his trusted man on the 31st of March this year, things did not go as planned. The Masisi administration proved to be a hard nut to crack for former president Khama. The general perception was that Masisi is publicly humiliated his former boss while some believe Khama is undermining Masisi by seeking to continue to influence his decisions. As former party leader, Khama is still a worshiped man in the party circles and his loyalists currently feel Masisi is hard on his former boss.
A resolution or an act of appeasement between the two proved futile as party elders tried to convene but they will not bend Khama. Things took a bitter twist when Masisi refused to appoint Khama’s trusted man Isaac Kgosi as his Senior Private Secretary following the departure of Brig George Tlhalerwa who was leaving public service a few months back. Khama told this reporter that he is entitled to a Private Secretary of his choice and this should be someone he has worked with before and someone who understands him better.
This has been the standard practice and Khama submits that the same treatment should be accorded to him. To show that he is indeed in a brawl, Masisi forcefully removed Isaac Kgosi from his post as Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General and replaced him with his longtime rival Peter Magosi. This is a man who was unceremoniously relieved off his duties by President Khama.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.
“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).