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BDP divided over elections deferral

The decision by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee to postpone primary elections has divided the party, with the anti-Masisi faction expected to go for jugular and call for secretary general, Mpho Balopi to resign.

Yesterday (Friday) BDP held an in-house meeting in Palapye to discuss the rescheduling of the much awaited 38 constituencies elections. The postponement came five days before the scheduled date, with the party politburo citing hacking of the electoral system as the mainstay reason. Those who spoke to this publication say it has been a tiring and expensive route that bled their  finances in campaigns, indicating that the postponement means more problems for the already financially challenged candidates.

“Already a lot of money has been spent in the build-up to the elections which were scheduled for this weekend (today) and now we should source out more and try to keep the ball rolling. This will bleed our already shoe-tight budget,” said one candidate who spoke on condition of anonymity. The cost, according to the candidates comes from paying the campaign teams that have been mobilising the electorates and other costs. Another contention from the party members is the fact that the party elections are likely to be scheduled around September/ October.

This, they say, is likely to compromise the registration of the national elections which are scheduled for the same months. “You know our party’s stronghold is mostly on far flung constituencies and you know how these people behave. They will not even register for the national elections because they will think after voting for the primaries they are done with the general elections process,” said another party parliamentary candidate. This it is said is likely to impact on the party 47 per cent popular vote garnered in the last elections in 2014 as most of the party members, will be confused.
 
ANTI-MASISI SENTIMENT DIVIDING THE PARTY

The ruling party is also under pressure from the emerging faction which is aimed at disrupting Masisi’s presidency next year. Reports indicate that, scores of democrats want the party secretary general, Mpho Balopi who is aligned to Masisi to resign his position. He is blamed for messing up the secretariat and for making costly decisions to the detriment of party unity ahead of 2014 general elections. Balopi, a close ally of Masisi is viewed as possible favourable candidate to succeed Masisi at the end of his term.

According to information gathered by this publication, President Masisi’s future is not guaranteed as there is a possibility of a challenger emerging from the opposing camp. The BDP constitution stipulates that during an election year, the party shall convene a special congress specifically for electing the party’s presidential candidate.

The BDP tradition shows that no sitting president has been challenged since independence. However, Masisi has not been that very lucky, with his fallout with former president, Ian Khama making matters worse.

Weekend Post understands that the pro-Khama want to dilute Masisi’s power by pushing for candidates who are pro-Khama in party primaries as well as next year congress. The party will meet for at least three congresses next year; the Youth Wing congress, Women’s Wing congress and well as the National Congress. Samson Guma Moyo is reportedly lining himself up for the secretary general position. Guma is among the five central committee additional members who were elected at last held party congress in Tonota.

The narrative of postponing party congress has gained credible opponents within the party. Party veteran and long time secretary general, Daniel Kwelagobe has disagreed with what has been proposed by the central committee, indicating that it is not provided for in the constitution of the BDP.

“I am a constitutionalist and I believe in what is in the constitution.

The only thing we can do that is in the interest of the party, will be implementing the provisions of the constitution,” Kwelagobe, former secretary general told Weekend Post a fortnight ago.
 “BDP does not have in its constitution a provision that talks about transition. We must do what is in the constitution.” Kwelagobe, has over the years proved to be pro-party traditions, and has never supported efforts to undermine them.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

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.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

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

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