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Mangole gives BCP middle finger over constituencies

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.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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