Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Duma Gideon Boko has spoken highly of Masisi saying he will be much better that ex President Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama in terms of leadership style.
“There is nobody who can be worse ever than Khama, but Masisi is not going to take it any further. If there is any difference will be marginal since he is a civilian. So I expect him to be more amenable to engaging with me as Leader of Opposition (LOO) than his predecessor,” Boko told Weekend Post this week. He says he foresees Masisi engaging with him from time to time and respecting his office than Khama did who totally shunned it.
“Masisi will be much slightly better than Khama, at least at the level of engagement and being able to talk and listening to each other, and respecting certain protocols. For example appreciating that the LOO does not imply writing him (LOO) telling him what to do but consulting him and engaging with him robustly,” the UDC leader highlighted to this publication. When pressed further for clarity on his assertions he pointed out that: “he (Masisi) is a friend of mine. And this point is important to make.”
For the fact that he opposes Masisi, the president of the country and the BDP, does not mean he hates the man and his party. “In fact it must suggest to you that I love the country and I love the man a lot. If I would advise him and do so consistently, meticulously and persistently even in the face of hostility, it means I care even about him,” he said.
For the reason that he shouts so strongly in the throat he said is because he wants to protect these Presidents and former Presidents from having to come before courts and serve sentences in their time of retiring. I am helping them; this is what I do and I do it for free; I do it because I love the country and these presidents, he pointed out.
The opposition leader who is also an Advocate threatened Masisi and former Presidents with court action for any wrong doing: “you know why, because as we speak, ex President of South Africa Jacob Zuma appeared in court recently. So as we speak, the former President of South Korea Park Geun-hye was sentenced to 24 years in jail for corruption. As we speak the Brazilian Supreme court has ordered that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who was president for Brazil must go to jail for 12 years for corruption.”
Under Masisi, Boko expects no major policy shift
Boko also asserted that, under Masisi presidency he still does not expect anything new and major while labeling the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) as a dead horse. He insisted that Masisi won’t be any major difference. “We don’t expect anything new. It’s the same BDP that we opposed as opposition Botswana National Front (BNF). We opposed the BDP when it was led by Sir Seretse Khama, the father to Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama. We opposed the BDP down the ages and decades. We oppose the BDP today, not because of espionages and personalities. We oppose the BDP on a principle point because of its policies and its failures to transform lives of our people.”
He continued: “we oppose the BDP because of its endemic corruption and the momentous failure to turn the economy around and the momentous failure to diversify the economy. So what will now change? Will this current President Masisi change things around? Of course not, you know why? Because he is tied to a National Development Plan (NDP 11) that was passed by parliament and this is a knight in shining amour.”
According to the LOO, the BDP is incapable of reforms. He said borrowing from his leftist politics that consciousness which is the subjective instincts of the desire of the people is not shaped in isolation and the material conditions of the people exist, the conditions of abject poverty, issues of massive unemployment especially youth unemployment, conditions of the working poor like a lower bracket government employee.
For example, “I have said to the BDP introduce a minimum or living wage of 3000bwp across and they have refused. And these are the things am selling to the people and the people will make judgement based on them.” In fact he said with the BDP the material conditions will not change, instead they will worsen “and our people’s consciousness will heighten especially the young people who are the most affected. They will decide the outcome of 2019.”
So, in terms of the 2019 General Elections, he said the BDP will be out of power. “That’s it. I am certain. I am confident. We are winning in 2019 and we are winning so big. People should get ready to appreciate complete materials under BDP will not change that we need something more radical and transformative and that is the UDC. That’s what we offer. We are for change. We are advocates of change,” the Gaborone Bonnington North lawmaker insisted to this publication.
In terms of internal bickering that is currently ensuing between UDC affiliates; Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) and BNF, Boko said the wrangling is normal. In the UDC he said “differences and disagreements must be there and take place. Unity must be shaken. At BNF we even believe in politics of dialectics. Dialectics say they have to be contradictions for there to be movement. We distinguish contradictions from antagonism.
Contradictions are essential for progress. ”When asked about the AP he said “AP won’t disturb us. If you are fighting and you know some will tap on your territory, you fight even more so that whatever they take do not even derail you. And that’s what we are doing.” He however added that but of course they remain open to engage with them as well because ultimately they need each other. “We are always ready. The idea is to have the entire opposition contesting as one at the polls,” he said.
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.
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.
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.”