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BDP firebrands regroup for 2024 elections

Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) once promising youth brigade is regrouping to ready themselves for the 2024 general elections, following political careers marred by controversy.  

Scores of party stalwarts broke ranks with the party during the early years of the leadership of former president Lt Gen Ian Khama leading to en mass resignation to opposition parties. A lot of them have since retraced their steps to BDP, with Kentse Rammidi being the latest arrival. This publication has established that the trio could be readying themselves for the 2024 general elections, a move which is well thought of and calculated.

Key among those who returned from exile is Botsalo Ntuane, who is the immediate former party secretary general.  Ntuane rose to prominence in 1995, after he was elected as one of the five additional members of the party central committee subsequent to Mogoditshane Congress. He was only 24, and a member of the burgeoning GS-26, the party student-wing at University of Botswana.

A protégée of party stalwart Daniel Kwelagobe, Ntuane is the founding member of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), an offshoot of the ruling party. He made history, when in an expected turn of events; he defected back to BDP while he was still the leader of opposition.

Ntuane, who once served as a Specially Elected MP, lost his constituency, Gaborone Bonnington South to Ndaba Gaolathe of then Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). Gaolathe has since joined Alliance for Progressives (AP).
Ntuane, endorsed as one of the most gifted politicians of his era, decided against contesting in the party primarily elections, therefore ruling himself out of the 2019 general elections contest.

This publication has gathered that Ntuane was of the view that the current dynamics do not favour his chances of emerging victorious. However, Ntuane is keen on bouncing back to parliament in 2024, and with various constituencies on the offer. Born in Mmadinare and raised in Selebi Phikwe, Ntuane has the three possible constituencies to consider.

Mmadinare has been a strong hold for former Vice President, Ponatshego Kedikilwe for three decades. Kedikilwe was the leading figure of Barataphathi, of which Ntuane belonged to. Adding to that, Ntuane has a claim to Nata/Gweta, where his father hails. This is a constituency that Ntuane once expressed his interest and was coaxed against in the 2008 primary elections. He then settled for Gaborone Bonnington South (then Gaborone West South).

Ntuane however cast doubts on the possibility of running for one of the rural constituencies because he considered himself an “urbanite”. Motlhale, an ally of Ntuane also decided against putting his name up in Ramotswa. Motlhale lost the constituency to Botswana Congress Party (BCP)’s Samuel Rantuana during in the 2014 general elections.

An effective legislator, who arrived in parliament after 2009 general elections, Motlhale joined the opposition BMD in the wake of massive defections in 2010. He would later return to the BDP in 2012. A few days after losing his parliamentary seat, Motlhale told this publication of his immediate plans. “Politics is not a full time job, I have to do something in the meantime to earn a leaving,” he said, “Since I am no longer a Member of Parliament my only option is to pursue business.”

On his way to parliament in 2009, Motlhale defeated cabinet minister Lesego Motsumi along the way. Motlhale has been keeping a low profile since his defeat in 2014. However, he resurfaced this week at a BDP press conference where Rammidi was welcomed back into the BDP.  “I am around, just that I rarely attend press conferences but I am busy in the party,” Motlhale said when asked what he’s been up to.

Meanwhile, the latest returnee, Rammidi lost his parliamentary seat in 2014 against BDP. He was contesting under the banner of BCP, following his dumping Botswana National Front (BNF), which he had joined from BDP. Rammidi was instrumental in winning the Kanye North constituency for BDP after he dislodged BNF’s Calvin Batsile from the throne in 2009. Nchi, as popularly known was welcomed with raptures from the democrats. Not an ordinary politician, Rammidi has gained reputation as an exceptional organizer. 

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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