The story of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) regarding the adoption of the new constitution that would formally usher in Botswana Congress Party (BCP) as a member hinged on a new narrative this week when the Botswana National Front (BNF) Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa said the process has been delayed by the team that has been crafting the new constitution.
Mohwasa, who is also the spokesperson of the UDC’s statement, was however in contrast with the initially stated position that the finalisation of the constitution was to rest with the 16 member National Executive Committee (NEC) between the 1st – 3rd June. Following the failure of the anticipated, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), president, Sidney Pilane issued a statement indicating that the scheduled retreat could not materialise because his counterpart, Duma Boko of the BNF was outside the country on parliamentary duty.
Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) leader Motlatsi Molapisi could not disclose to this publication factors that led to the failure of the retreat because in the build-up to the date because he was not informed. “To tell you the truth I do not know what happened with the retreat. What I know is that we had a retreat scheduled between the 1st-3rd of June, but nothing was communicated,” he said referring this publication to the party secretary general, who according to him was better placed to know the reason behind the failure of the retreat.
BPP Secretary General, Venture Galetshabiwe however indicated that the reason for the failure of retreat was premised on the verity that the UDC contracting partners had a wide range of activities that needed attention, including the Moshupa-Manyana parliamentary bye-election. “Part of the agenda of the retreat was to discuss the consolidation of the draft constitution that was negotiated by the streams as well the comments and amendments proposed by the delegates at the February Congress. It is a delicate matter that needs to be given attention,” said Galaetshabiwe.
BPP was represented by Thabani Peter and Parkie Pias at the negotiation table that were concluded in the beginning of 2017. Attorney Nelson Ramaotwana, who was part of the Botswana National Front negotiation team for the UDC constitution declined to comment on what has delayed the completion of the constitution, referring this publication to UDC spokesperson, Mohwasa.
BMD Chairperson, Nehemiah Modubule also insists that the retreat could not materialise because of the commitments of UDC president. According to Modubule, the UDC had been planning to meet on the 21st of June, but had to reschedule again because Boko will be on another assignment abroad. Mohwasa however expect the matter to be finalised before the BNF congress, delegates will be briefed on the matter.
WekendPost has established that when the talks began in 2016, all BCP and UDC negotiated as equal partners. Both UDC and BCP were represented by six people each. The UDC team was lead by Sidney Pilane while BCP was led by Martin Dingake. The task was of the constitution negotiation team was completed ahead of the announcement of the success of the talks in Febraury 2017.
Matters that arose from the the resultant February congress in earlier this year were to be dealt with by the leadership of the four parties at NEC level, with each party having four representative each. BCP had some reservation with its status within the coalition and wanted its arrival finalised, leading to the current stand-off.
WHY IS UDC ON MERRY-GO-ROUND ON CONSTITUTION MATTER?
Adoption of the new constitution as per the amendments of the Boipuso Congress will have some serious implication on the legitimacy of some portfolios within the party. The provision emanating from the congress provides that the UDC will have only one Vice President, a development which will effectively pit BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando against Pilane of BMD. Adoption of the new constitution as proposed by the party congress will mean, one of the party Vice President would be sacrificed, something which Pilane oppose bitterly.
Several sources who spoke to this publication believe that the proposed amendments will leave the BMD in the lurch given its reduced influence within the coalition. Some of the UDC resolutions that Pilane is against include the amendment of article 5.3 of the constitution in which there is a call to replace ‘may’ with ‘shall’ so that it becomes mandatory.
It was also resolved that article 5 should include suspension and termination of membership, as well as allow for voluntary termination and confer powers to suspend on the UDC NEC through simple majority and powers to expel to a special congress.â€¨â€¨The congress had also agreed that termination of membership, as stated in the old constitution should be incorporated into the new constitution; hence there should be no individual membership within the UDC.
Delegates agreed that membership to the UDC shall only be through party affiliation; they argued that there is no logic in individual membership outside political parties as the rights of those individuals are not articulated.â€¨â€¨The congress also agreed that the founding members should be mentioned in the constitution. In addition they resolved for that article 6.1 (f) Equitable should be replaced with proportional because the latter recognises the strength of the contracting parties. Delegates also adopted the principle of consensus and/or simple majority.
They also agreed that contracting parties should subscribe to the UDC and the amount of subscription should be moved to regulations and not specified in the constitution.â€¨â€¨Those who attended the congress as delegates also resolved that the NEC should decide if amount of contribution should be proportionate to membership base. There were also resolutions on article 7 to deal with Congress, extra ordinary congress, NEC and Policy forum. It was adopted that the structure will not have either women’s league or youth league. Delegates also agreed that the principle of proportionality should be used as opposed to 10 members per constituency and decision-making shall be by 2/3 majority or 50% of the constituency members.
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.