Leader of Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Dumelang Saleshando will not support his controversial counterpart from Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), Advocate Sidney Pilane’s parliamentary bid for Gaborone North constituency.
In a leaked conversation, the Saleshando stated that he does not share values in Pilane and he will not ask anyone to vote for him in Gaborone North, a constituency where the former Gaborone Central legislator resides. Barely 14 months before the 2019 general elections skeletons are tumbling out of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) closet. The leaked WhatApp conversation, involving the UDC National Executive Committee members have somehow painted a gloomy portrait of the opposition coalition in the coming elections, with some observers already dismissing it is a failed project.
Hell broke loose when BMD leader, Pilane accused other coalition partners of having played a role in ensuring that BMD candidate lose against Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) candidate in the recent Moshupa-Manyana constituency. UDC’s Tshepang Sethono lost to BDP’s Karabo Gare by 1,530 votes to 4,093. Saleshando, did not take kindly to persistent criticism of BCP by the BMD leader, which evidently is not happening for the first time. Saleshando also wanted Boko to intervene and reprimand Pilane for accusing other colleagues.
Pilane hinted in the conversation that. “In the Moshupa Manyana by-election, the BCP and BNF actively campaigned against the UDC parliamentary candidate and achieved victory for the BDP. That was contrary to all that the UDC is and represents.” Saleshando who seemed to have seethed with anger took the war to Pilane. “O re tlhokela maitseo mme ole motona. We can't have a Trump that explodes saying only he knows the truth. You are downright disrespectful and rude. Your presence has been poisonous. We always get asked questions by the public gore what do we hope to achieve with you,” Saleshando said.
The former Gaborone Central legislator added, “Moshupa people have rejected you and your BMD. Others are going to continue to reject you. You tore apart the base that BNF and BCP had built. I had hoped that comrade Boko will counsel you on basics of leadership, but I guess he realizes you are beyond redemption. This group may as well be disbanded. Your poison has killed what we tried to build for Batswana. I now understand why Batswana in their quiet way mistrust you and regard you a criminal. This hired gun is too much. Let's stop leaving a lie, why do you think he has always been associated with the DIS.”
In a bitter exchange of words between the two leaders, UDC president Duma Boko tried to douse the raging inferno but in vain. “All insults, regardless of who says them must stop and we must get to the root of the toxicity and resolve it once and for all. That's what I am saying. These are principle issues on which there are no sacred cows. Let us hold our fire and arrange to meet and address all these issues, so we know where we stand,” Boko advised.
Saleshando told him. “As others have said, Mokwepa o mo ntlung. I will not be asking for anyone to vote for Pilane in Gaborone North, and I am not going to retract this. I share no values with him. Protect him and forget about victory in 2019. We will not be asking anyone to vote for BMD candidates while we bear the insults of their leader. Full Stop,” charged Saleshando.
Boko’s attempted cease fire fired the blanks as none of the two leaders, especially Saleshando gave him an audience but rather said, “Comrade President, if you can't reprimand Pilane when he goes out to provoke, kindly stay silent. I will not allow a crook and known criminal to insult me or the BCP, just because he leads an empty shell that can't mount any campaign.”
The Umbrella has been rattled by a number of internal wrangles including failure to adopt the constitution which will formally recognize BCP and some resolutions of February meeting. Some in the project, amid low voice have suggested that Pilane has been sent by the ruling to destroy the “only project that could emancipate Batswana,” and Saleshando corroborated that too. “Masisi may as well send Pilane a Thank You Card for 2019. If they have not sent him such a card for Moshupa I will be shocked.
Following these fallout, the UDC leadership are expected to meet and talk in ‘civilized’ manner after seven days. This according to sources is to protect the image of the project. However, it appears days of the coalition are numbered as various constituents parties will assemble for their conferences this month. It is at those that decisions to remain or to go by the parties especially BCP and BNF would be taken.
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.