The newly formed Alliance for Progressives (AP) is lurking in the shadows for disgruntled Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members who are not amused by the ascendance of Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi to the highest office in the land.
This is according to Nehemiah Modubule, the chairman of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). He theorises that Ndaba Gaolathe, Wynter Mmolotsi and company were never into the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) project. “It is common knowledge that the Ndaba group was against joining UDC in 2011 as their argument was that we needed to grow our party first. The other reason they advanced then was that BMD should not join forces with the BNF as that would jeopardise maBDP who wanted BMD to be their next home if things go wrong in the BDP.
This group was worried that by joining hands with leftist organisations like the BNF madokrag won’t join us,” narrates Modubule, who further claimed to have evidence to the meetings that captured the sentiments of Gaolathe and his team. He says they at the BMD are not surprised by the decision of AP leaders to bolt out of the UDC, “they never wanted to be part of UDC they were just bound by a majority decision supported by Gomolemo Motswaledi (MHSRIP) then,” he adds.
Modubule continues, “All one can read from what AP is doing now is to open a window for maDomkrag; they have been captured by MaDomkrag who are not happy with Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi becoming the Head of State in April next year. The blunder they make is to forget that Daniel Kwelagobe their Godfather had promised them to come over once BMD was formed but that never came to be. I wonder what makes them to think that this time maDomkrag ba ba ba reelang will join them.”
The BMD chairman is not amused by what he terms “propaganda being peddled by AP leadership against the BMD”. He stated that the truth of the matter is that some in the AP are from families who used to run this country and accumulated a lot of wealth allegedly under dubious circumstances. “The fact that we are about to take over government makes them uncomfortable and fear that their inherited properties may not be save under the UDC leadership. Remember UDC promised Batswana that once we assume the state power we are going to investigate as to how some people acquired their many properties,” says Modubule.
He said some in the AP leadership are living in fear hence their break away from BMD by extension UDC so as to try and split the opposition vote and “secure their inheritance”. Modubule said: “this is the only reason why our colleagues have decided to form a party at the eleventh hour.”
AP WAS FORMED BEFORE THE UDC VERDICT
According to Modubule when the BMD went for the Bobonong congress those who recently formed Alliance for Progressives were busy setting up structures parallel to those of the BMD, “little did we know that they were indeed setting up structures for their new party.” Modubule said the structures that they set up prior to Bobonong are the ones they used to hold a congress at Bobonong Junior Secondary School ignoring the properly constituted congress at Matshekge. “This is the place where Ndaba Gaolathe, Wynter Mmolotsi, Phenyo Butale and others were elected to lead the new party. There is no doubt that they went to Bobonong prepared for their own congress, just as they went to UDC with a certificate in their pocket,” he observes.
According to the BMD chairman, “it was a waste of time for UDC and BMD of the UDC to go into pains of trying to find a way of bringing some sanity in the BMD as Ndaba and company had already decided on forming a new party that would accommodate madomkrag as initially planned. I should mention here and now that I do not want to see a situation where we replace BDP with another BDP. My argument is simple I would prefer a mixture of some former BDPs and long-time serving opposition parties.”
THE SIDNEY PILANE QUESTION
Modubule says Sidney Pilane’s name is being used as scapegoat because “the truth of the matter is that Wynter Mmolotsi is a man allergic to the truth. I believe deep down in his heart Mmolotsi knows that Pilane has done absolutely nothing that warrants such hatred against him.” The BMD chairman insists that Mmolotsi started “the propaganda ya letlhoo mo go Sidney Pilane after the Gantsi Congress.”
“Comparing Sidney to Wynter one would go for Pilane as Wynter is only a propagandist who has nothing to offer to the organisation. Just imagine a whole Vice President failing to honour a congress resolution. In Gantsi a resolution was passed that all MP’s should contribute P1000.00 monthly towards running of the organisation and he failed to contribute even once. Only three MP’S contributed, that is, Ndaba Gaolathe, Gilbert Mangole and Dr. Tlamelo Mmatli,” says Modubule.
Modubule explains the Pilane contribution to BMD politics, “Pilane resigned from the BMD, though not a member of the BMD he continued to assist the movement and that is how the BMD survived for many years. At the inception of the organisation it was Guma Moyo and Sidney Pilane and to some extent Lindelwa Maripe who were footing the bill of the organisation. When Guma left, Sidney Pilane continued to assist the movement to this date.”
In his view, it is therefore illogical to say Pilane is on a mission to destroy the BMD and then target the UDC. “The man has helped in making sure that the BMD is sustained. Other people are just busy doing everything in their power to discredit Pilane while he is busy assisting the organisation to grow.” Modubule says if Pilane was sent to destroy the Party in order to weaken the opposition it means it was a mission agreed upon by all who left the BDP at the time of inception of the movement that includes the Vice President of the AP.
“How on earth would a man whose mission is to destroy use his resources to help build a movement whose sole aim is to unseat the ruling party? In the Goodhope- Mabule by elections Pilane contributed P20,000 plus food for our foot soldiers by so doing he was assisting the UDC to grow. The Vice President of AP should not think that we will buy his hatred for Pilane to be our hatred too. NO.”
Modubule says they have asked Mmolotsi on several occasions to inform them what wrong Pilane has done which could indicate that indeed he was an agent of the BDP but he has failed to do so. He says they have since concluded that his was just hatred towards Pilane. “Pilane is not an angel, he is human and like all other human beings he is bound to have flaws but you cannot compare him to AP Vice President. I am not even sure as to how Mmolotsi got the position of Vice President when the party has not yet held a congress but he is already a Vice President,” observes Modubule.
WILL UDC ASSUME STATE POWER IN 2019?
“I have no doubt that the UDC will assume state power in 2019 as it stands for the liberation of our people and it is a progressive movement. I wonder whether by naming some organisation progressive when its actions are regressive will make it progressive,” Modubule’s view point. He says the BMD is here to stay and they are not going to be intimidated. “We are a party in our own right le ha gone bangwe ba utsule maloko a rona. We shall re-build our beloved organisation. Call us sekgapha or moitlobo at your own risk.
Kgang ya moitlobo was used so much by the late Dr Kenneth Koma when launching NDF. He said ‘party e ile go setse moitlobo hela’. What happened; the party is no longer visible moitlobo is now the party. BMD ke molatswana o tshela mo molapong wa UDC,” says Modubule. Modubule assured BMD members that their party is alive and kicking hence no need to panic. He says they should relax and just concentrate on rebuilding the movement.
MODUBULE THE TROUBLE MAKER?
“I can confidently tell you that I am not like that. All that you read being said by Wynter is just not true. As far as I am concerned I always stay on the side of the constitution and not a person. In 2008 when I was expelled from the BNF it was again a hot debate between me and Cde Otsweletse Moupo. The argument was on the interpretation of the BNF constitution. We (Temporary Platform) argued that 2008 was supposed to be a congress year as the last ordinary congress was held in 2005.The BNF, as some of you might know goes for its national congress after every three years.”
Modubule continues to narrate his ‘rebellious’ journey: “In 2007 comrade Moupo called a special congress and it was an elective congress. His argument was that we cannot hold the ordinary congress because we held a special congress the previous year. Our view was that the special congress does not replace a mandatory congress which was due in 2008.
The fact that we held a special congress did not automatically mean replacement of a mandatory congress. We maintained that position and it was picked by the media and we were then asked to refrain from influencing other comrades to adopt our position and that we should not discuss our position with the media. We refused to budge and we were suspended and ultimately expelled from the party for insubordination. It is surprising that some people are using this example as go tshwenya game. I was not acting as a lone wolf. I was with the likes of Elmon Tafa, Monageng Mogalakwe, Akanyang Magama, Lebogang Letsie and others.”
Modubule continues, “I served the BNF for 27 years and held a number of portfolio responsibilities including that of the National Chairman. I also lead an organisation called United Socialist Party (PUSO) formed in 1994 which joined BNF as a group member in 1998. It means PUSO existed as a standalone party for four (4) years. I was requested by the late Dr Kenneth Koma along with Lemogang Ntime and others to re-join the BNF. I do not believe that I was a trouble maker otherwise how would they request a trouble maker to come and help revive the BNF.
It was tough when eleven members of Parliament resigned from the party along with scores of councillors. We addressed series of rallies explaining to Batswana as to what happened and comforting them.” “Those who say I was a trouble maker in the BNF know very little or nothing at all as to what was happening in the BNF then.” Modubule ended the interview with words of one of the great philosophers of the world when he said ’’He who has not investigated has no right to speak’’.
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.”