The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s failure to resolve the burning issues of re-allocations of constituencies, as demanded by Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is proving to be a divisive matter within the coalition.
BCP, which is the new entrant in the coalition, has found itself at loggerheads with contracting partner Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) over certain constituencies following the latter’s split resulting in the formation of the Alliance for Progressives (AP). Leading figures in the BCP, among them party secretary general Kentse Rammidi as well as former Youth League president Tumiso Rakgare have suggested for UDC to consider opening up the primary elections process to allow all contracting parties candidates to participate.
Although the suggestion has not been formally communicated by the party, Weekend Post has it on good authority that BCP is having a conversation relating to their participation in the UDC. BMD secretary general, Gilbert Mangole has however been angered by the antics of BCP, as he accused them of dealing with BMD in bad faith. The Mochudi West legislator told this publication that BCP is deliberately disregarding the agreement that guided allocations of constituencies to contracting partners.
“BCP is being disrespectful because they know the criteria that was being used to allocate constituencies. The idea that BMD lost its members when some of its leaders left the party [to form AP] is a blatant lie because there is no study or research to support what they have been saying.” Mangole said, he does not know what the hullabaloo is all about since the the BCP has not formally engaged BMD with regard to constituencies which they want except for Maun West.
“We are still assessing their request, but we are not compelled to cede to their demands,” said Mangole. BCP has requested Maun West in order to field its party president Dumelang Saleshando. The party leader currently does not have a constituency. Other firebrands within the BCP without constituencies are Rakgare as well as Rammidi. Mangole expressed shock that other contracting partners would go to the extent of seeking BMD constituencies when the whole idea of umbrella is all about working collectively to help each other.
He said part of the agreement is that a party which has been awarded a constituency, may, using its own discretion approach another partner to offer it a constituency in the event that it feels it does not have a credible or sellable candidate. “It is the responsibility of the party that has been awarded the constituency to approach other partner, not anyone else. BMD applied it in 2014 when it gave BNF Moshupa-Mmanyana because it did not have a candidate,” he said.
“I am surprised that other parties are judging our candidates, yet it is the responsibility of the BMD to determine that. BMD believe in honesty and in doing what has been agreed.” It was expected that BCP, which shared the view BNF that the coalition’s past congress would address the burning issues inside the coalition. They were two key issues that BNF and BCP wanted discussed at the congress; the review of constituencies allocated to BMD, as well as creating only one position of Vice President within the coalition.
The BNF/BCP axis was hoping to use their numerical strength at the UDC congress to achieve their objectives, a development which would push the beleaguered movement out of the coalition. Coalition leader and Duma Boko, came to the rescue of the BMD as he prevailed over fuming delegates. A high ranking member of BCP who talked to this publication indicated that the party has already started a conversation within the party on reviewing their participation in the Umbrella.
“We all know the strength of Dumelang [Saleshando] and we should know that as a coalition it is the responsibility of the UDC to ensure that its most capable people go to parliament,” he said. The source further informed this publication that they are worried that BMD prefers to recruit from BDP in order meet their deficiency instead of first considering candidates from its contracting partners.
The recruitment of Bruce Nkgakile as well as Thabo Autlwetse are said to be prime examples of BDP activist recruited to contest in BMD constituencies. Reports indicate that Nkgakile is earmarked Mogoditshane constituency while Autlwetse may try his luck at Gaborone Central. Rammidi shared recently on his social media platforms that UDC risks losing 2019 general elections as a result of failing to field credible and strong candidates against ruling party. Rammidi in essence support one party system as opposed to the current arrangement.
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.
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.
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.