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AP formed to accommodate anti-Masisi brigade

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’’.

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

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