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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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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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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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