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Pilane jams UDC

Political own goals and egocentrism would soon give validity to the much touted ‘paralysis’ of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). While UDC leader Duma Boko could be genuine in his “UDC or nothing” chant, some of those working with or around him in the power corridors of the main opposition bloc are conspicuously compiling a death certificate for the organisation.

The UDC held a meeting this past weekend and the leaders failed to agree on anything substantive that could give life to a campaign for the 2019 general elections or least for the Moshupa-Manyana bye-election which slated for June 16 this year.In fact what came out of the meeting are clear signs that the UDC is nearing breaking point. It has emerged from the weekend meeting that the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is fed up with the merry-go-round discussions of the UDC, and has threatened to abstain from a UDC retreat scheduled for June 1st to June 3rd this year. At a strategy level the BCP is further preparing for life outside the UDC because it is not a recognized member of the formation.

The weekend meeting was the first since the UDC congress in February this year. Previous attempts to convene a meeting failed because Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President, Sidney Pilane saw no need for a meeting, this publication has gathered. For the BCP the big issue at this meeting was the incorporation of congress resolutions into the agreed draft constitution and registration of the constitution of the UDC.

But the BCP were frustrated at this meeting as Pilane insists that in terms of the currently registered constitution, BCP is not a member of the UDC – all contracting partners agree that he is correct. The problem as apportioned to Pilane is that he however does not accept the constitution that was negotiated between the BCP and UDC. Furthermore he also does not accept any of the congress resolutions on the constitution.

In terms of the negotiation structure, the constitution was crafted by a stream that had six BCP representatives and six UDC representatives. BMD’s Pilane was part of the stream as a UDC representative. The constitution then went to the main negotiating team, which effected some changes. The final negotiation level was the BCP and UDC presidents who also agreed on some changes.

It has been established that Pilane wants the draft initiated by the stream and rejects changes made by all higher level negotiating structures. As for the congress he rejects all the resolutions. His argument is that UDC cannot have a congress in terms of the constitution they have originated.

The weekend meeting agreed that each of the parties in the UDC should nominate two representatives to infuse congress resolutions into the constitution and submit composite document by 25th of this month. UDC will then have a retreat on 1st, 2nd and 3rd June to discuss all outstanding issues including the constitution.  But inside sources say the UDC is stuck, the majority of BNF central committee members want to exit the UDC because of this paralysis.

All the while the BCP has made it clear at the weekend meeting that it will not attend the retreat if there is no progress on finalization of the constitution. They stated that there is no point in attending a retreat of an organisation that does not recognize their membership. Indications are also that BNF representatives safe for Boko, who is the face of the UDC, may not attend the retreat.

WHAT PILANE IS REJECTING

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.

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.

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.

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.

WHY BDP WILL WALK IN MOSHUPA-MANYANA

Another hot potato is the Moshupa-Manyana constituency. In2014 Moshupa Manyana was apparently allocated to the BMD but they failed to get a candidate. BNF then contested for UDC because they had a candidate. Following the ascendancy of Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi to the Presidency a vacancy has been created and a bye-election is scheduled for June 16 and the BMD is now saying it has a candidate and wants to contest. But the BNF is insisting that BMD has no presence in the constituency.

UDC activists are frustrated that an election writ is out but UDC does not know who is to contest. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is expected to capitalize on this confusion and punish the opposition with a heavy margin. The election date is also very close.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021
Kebonang

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.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

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.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021
boko-and-khama

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.

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