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Inside Masisi-Tsogwane VP deal

Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane is not the man who will succeed President Mokgweetsi Masisi at the end of his presidency, with the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairman planning to retire from active politics just before the 2024 general elections.

Like his successor, Lt Gen Ian Khama — Masisi will have more than two deputies during his term. Khama had Mompati Merafhe and later Ponatshego Kedikilwe before settling for Masisi as his ordained successor. According to sources close to the developments, Masisi’s likely successor will be the one appointed after the 2024 general elections. If the status quo obtains, Masisi will serve as president until 2028.

Since 1980, a sitting president had to alternate their deputies owing to various circumstances. Sir Ketumile Masire had three vice presidents; Lenyeletse Seretse (1980-1983), Peter Mmusi (1983-1992) and Festus Mogae (1992-1998).
Mogae is the only president since Sir Seretse Khama to have had one Vice President during his tenure.

While many were surprised by the decision to appoint Tsogwane as Vice President, impeccable sources revealed that Masisi had long concluded that he will appoint Tsogwane his deputy. Tsogwane, who had throughout his political career been reluctant to take up a post in the party’s central committee, surprised many when he ran for the additional member post at last year’s Tonota Congress and emerged victorious.

Following his appointment as party chairman a few hours after Masisi took oath as president of Botswana; it grew apparent that Tsogwane was Masisi’s chosen one. “Masisi was obviously looking for someone who is loyal, and who wouldn’t want to outshine him. Given their chemistry, Slumber [Tsogwane], was that person,” revealed one member of BDP Central Committee.

WeekendPost further established that Tsogwane, unlike many in the BDP, did not have any ambition for the presidency, let alone the vice presidency, with his initial plan having been to retire at the end of his current term. It was Masisi who coaxed the pint-sized legislator, who is currently the joint longest serving lawmaker in parliament — to stay for another five years.  Previously, Bogolo Kenewendo, who has since been appointed to cabinet, was earmarked to replace Tsogwane at Boteti West at the next polls.

WeekendPost has been informed the new Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry will be re-elected as Specially Elected MP next year.  The surging of Kenewendo in government structures is credited to Tsogwane, and many have pointed out that it is one of the pointers on the tightness of Tsogwane and Masisi’s relationship.

Masisi’s choice for Tsogwane though unexpected by many democrats, has not caused any uproar chiefly because he is considered a man without controversies. “He is the ideal man for the job at the moment. Not many friends, and also without enemies,” said one influential member of the BDP.

Even the hard to please party veteran Daniel Kwelagobe has given a thumbs up to Masisi’s choice for Vice President in Tsogwane.

“He has been in government for a very long time, he knows how government works and he has been a good member of the party,” said Kwelagobe of Tsogwane.

PLAYING IT SAFE IN CABINET APPOINTMENTS

Masisi did not cause uproar in his newly constituted cabinet, the only surprising choice being his decision to drop Edwin Batshu. Batshu, was considered one of the hard working ministers. He also enjoyed goodwill among the democrats.
Batshu joined Sadique Kebonang and Prince Maele — the controversy ensnared MPs who were relegated to the backbench. The public were yearning the dismissal of the duo from cabinet, something which gave Masisi an excuse to leave them out.

Kebonang has been implicated in the latest National Petroleum Fund scandal in which at least P250 million is suspected to have been misappropriated from the fund by the country’s intelligence organ. Meanwhile Maele has twice been placed under the radar of the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) with regards to large sums of money found in his possession.

Masisi kept Nonofo Molefhi in cabinet, and intriguingly appointed him to a more important ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration. Following their battle for chairmanship in Tonota last, a race which was considered a proxy battle for the presidential succession, it was believed that Masisi would drop Molefhi from cabinet.

Other members who were linked to Molefhi’s lobby group, Dorcas Makgato, Philip Makgalemele and Biggie Butale also retained their ministerial posts. Masisi, in another unexpected turn of events also left out Moyo Guma from his new cabinet. While some believe that Guma opted not to be offered the ministerial post, inside sources reveal otherwise.

“They were asked to indicate if they didn’t want to be considered. No one indicated such. After appointees were sworn in, the boss [Masisi] shared with them that everyone to whom he offered had accepted,” revealed a source. “No decliners. It means those not in the line-up were never offered.”

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State forged Kgosi’s arrest warrant

22nd July 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

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.

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UDC parties discuss by-elections

22nd July 2021
UDC

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.

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DIS infiltrates Police fingerprint system

22nd July 2021
Makgope

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.

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