A foiled no confidence motion tabled by the Leader of Opposition (LOO) Duma Boko on President Mokgweetsi Masisi last month was engineered by former president Lt Gen Ian Khama and brokered by his blue eyed boy Tshephang Mabaila, WeekendPost has been told.
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved swiftly this week to suspend Mabaila for 60 days pending disciplinary hearing, following revelation of his involvement in trying to bring down Masisi’s administration, few months after the latter succeeded Khama. Mabaila faces not only being recalled as party candidate in Mogoditshane constituency, where he won primary elections, but also expulsion from the party.
Insiders reveal that following fallout between Masisi and Khama, the latter’s cabal orchestrated the plan to oust Masisi. This was after Masisi broke the gentlemen’s agreement that was reached prior to Khama appointing the former his deputy, and ultimately his successor. Masisi has proved to be independent man, contrary to popular believe held by many that he will become his successors’ stooge after becoming president. He has made decisions that have infuriated Khama.
Information reaching this publication indicates that, the mover of the motion, Duma Boko, who is also the leader of the opposition in parliament, was part of the greater plan to dislodge Masisi. WeekendPost has gathered from impeccable sources that, prior to tabling the motion; Boko had met with Khama at his secretive homestead of Mosu, where the greater part of the details was agreed. This was ahead of the Botswana National Front (BNF) conference in July.
Boko agreed to fight on Khama’s corner against Masisi including forcing the latter to accede to the appointment of the disgraced former Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS), Colonel Isaac Kgosi. Masisi has refused to confirm the appointment of Kgosi as Khama’s private secretary, a development which exacerbated the battle between the two.
The idea was conceived in a number of secret meetings mostly held at Khama’s controversial homestead in Mosu. “This is where it was agreed that someone within the party mobilize other legislators especially within the party before charming those in the opposition,” a highly placed informant shared this week. The recent developments were substantiated by the BDP Secretary General; Mpho Balopi has likened Mabaila’s actions to a failed coup.
“You know what normally happens in a coup… and this is what was exactly planned. Unfortunately few of planned [worldwide] coups never succeed and this one also failed,” he said. He continued: “This is very serious and the President [Mokgweetsi Masisi] could not take it anymore. No one could protect his (Mabaila) actions. It is more than treasonous — this party is all about discipline.”
Balopi said this at a meeting with BDP members held in Mogoditshane on Tuesday. The main agenda of the meeting was to formally inform the constituents about the suspension of the area candidate for the parliamentary seat next year. The idea according to source was to mobilise MPs who are aligned to Khama and those who could be influenced to shift alliances.
The envisaged agent was to be an influential figure that would persuade others with ease. However, the master minds did not want any minister to do the job. Mabaila, according to a source was a strategic pawn used in the dangerous chess game. “He agreed with his master to have Boko as a ring leader to table the motion,” said the source.
Among other MPs recruited was Sethomo Lelatisitswe [Boteti East] and Dr Alfred Madigele [Molapowabojang/Mmathethe]. The motion was thrown to the dustbin immediately. Balopi has said Mabaila in his efforts to dethrone Masisi organized a number of MPs including from the opposition. The two were the starting point and it was believed that they will execute the plan accordingly since they were regarded as Khama’s allies.
Madigele was believed to be sympathetic to Khama, having served in his cabinet while Lelatisitswe is area MP for Khama’s favourite homestead Mosu, where it is believed secret meetings were held. BDP Chief whip, and legislator for Letlhakeng/Lephephe, Liekat Kablay has not been kind to Mabaila insisting that action be taken against him.
“We should respect our president and of course our constitution. We should not condone what Mabaila has done; we do not want hate but love,” said Kablay. In a letter dated August 7, 2018, Masisi wrote that reference is made to the above subject matter and “your utterances to Hon Dr Alfred Madigele and Sethomo Lelatisitswe on 10th July 2018 and letters addressed to the secretary general from the branch secretary dated 3rd December 2017 and 2nd August 2018.”
Masisi further said he determined that this is one of the exceptional circumstances in which he should exercise the powers conferred upon him as party president as espoused by Article 34.1.6 of the BDP constitution and consequently suspend Mabaila with immediate effect as a member of the party for a period of 60 days pending disciplinary action in light of the complaints laid against him.
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.