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Bangwaketse not amused by Khama‘s kgotla politics

Outgoing president Lt General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama seems to have rubbed some of Bangwaketse morafe the wrong way when he chose to speak politics in their Kgotla during his farewell visit to the Bangwaketse capital this week Tuesday.

The morafe is not pleased that Khama whose days as state president are numbered turned their main kgotla into a political ground, and particularly that he made advances at a Umbrella Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament (MP) who was at the same farewell meeting.

The BDP leader during his address cajoled Kanye South legislator, Abram Kesupile, asking him to rejoin the Botswana Democratic Party. Prior to that Khama had conceded that it was not allowed that he spoke politics in the kgotla, however insisting that he could not hold back the urge to recruit Kesupile. Khama told the fully packed kgotla that he wanted Kesupile to rejoin his party and return home. According to Khama, Kesupile’s being in the opposition was as a result of him being in ‘lost’ as he really belonged with the BDP.

“Ke leboga mopalamente Kesupile go bua sentle ka nna, ke nale regret lefa resa tshwanela go bua dipolotiki mo kgotleng, regret ke gore okile wane onale rona obo ore tlogela mme ke batla gore o boele mo gae pele ke tlogela tiro.” (I thank MP Kesupile for speaking so well of me, and though we are not supposed to speak politics in the Kgotla, I have my regrets, which is that you used to be with us but you left. I want you to come back home before I retire).

Khama went on to say that he will approach Kesupile to rejoin the ruling party as he will have ample time after his retirement to show Kesupile the way to retrace his footsteps. For some, Khama‘s politicking was a sign of disrespect as the president obviously knew he was not supposed to bring politics in the kgotla setup. One Kanye resident who is also a tribal leader told WeekendPost in the sidelines of the kgotla meeting that the president’s actions have the potential of making their kgotla lose its respect and integrity. “It is very surprising what the president did. We are not used to that kind of thing where political discussions are brought up in the kgotla, we don’t have a problem with politics but they are not to be brought up in the kgotla anymore.”

Another resident, who is also a UDC follower expressed concern about the conduct and stated that, had Khama recruited Kesupile to his party in any other set up there would have not been a problem, but the problem arises when he chooses to use the kgotla for that. He said that the kgotla should be turned into a freedom square by anyone. “Bangwaketse main Kgotla has been one of the most respected areas over the years but if now politicians can come and talk their politics in it, it loses that attached respect, it is not good and I am expecting our dikgosi to condemn this, it should never happen again in future,” the unhappy resident said.

When reached for comment about the president‘s remarks, Kesupile said UDC members should rest assured that he will not be shaken despite Khama’ s public courting of him to BDP. The soft spoken legislator pointed out that he has been aware of the ruling party’s being interested in him and said ‘‘I am not surprised about what he (Khama) said in front of the multitudes of Bangwaketse because they (BDP) have been courting me for some time and I will not join them.”

Kesupile said for now, he is committed to the UDC because he is in the position he is in because of the Botswana National Front ticket and he has been delegated by the people who he will not betray at all by joining BDP. “Nna ke romilwe ke ma BNF kafa tlase ga UDC ebile ga nkake ka tsewa ke phefo ka nna mo Domkrag, nyaa ga gona sepe seo.”

He also pointed out that he has been approached by three current cabinet ministers before and he turned them all down. He added that he knew that Khama was serious when he said he would approach him again in person and he is sure he would turn him down too. At the meeting, Khama told Kanye villagers that their water shortage crisis will be dealt with as the village will be connected to the North-South carrier project with the process to begin this year. He was responding to a plea by Kgosi Malope II who indicated that the village was faced with water supply challenges, and called on the government to rectify the issue.

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

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.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

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.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

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.”

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