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Tsogwane leads Guma, Tshekedi in BDP race

2018 is a bumper year for politics, especially the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with several events expected to shape the path in anticipation of the 2019 general elections. The party is going for primary elections and expecting a new leader in April.

Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi is expected to take over power from President Lt Gen Ian Khama at the end of March when the latter’s constitutional term of presidency comes to an end hence the ruling BDP central committee has the task of replacing Masisi as chairman of the party. The lobbying has started for this position within the rank and file and at central committee level.

Weekend Post has gathered that the three names are currently dominating conversations within the ruling party’s central committee are those of additional members Slumber Tsogwane, Tshekedi Khama, and Samson Guma Moyo. BDP chairmanship is a ceremonial position but has so much weight attached to it. Vice President Masisi fought hard and smart to retain the position against Nonofo Molefhi at the BDP Tonota elective congress last year July. Over the course of time party loyalists have started to attach power to the position because it has been frequently held by state Vice Presidents in the recent past – they believe this has added weight to the position of chairman of BDP.

In the current scenario, members of the BDP central committee will have the final say on who will take over as chairman when Vice President Masisi becomes president in April. It is expected that it should be a consensus decision or a majority split to decide on the next chairman.

Slumber Tsogwane is said to be commanding a strong lead as the lobbying intensifies. He was strongly behind Masisi in the run up to the Tonota congress. Some in the party point to his loyalty to the party and his position in Parliament as the longest serving Member of Parliament as complementary strengths that validate his pole position to succeed Masisi as chairman.

Slumber Tsogwane has made it clear that he is not running for Parliament in the 2019 general election, some see him as the appropriate candidate for the impending vacancy of chairman because he has little or no interest in the party primary elections which are expected to take centre stage starting January 20th. He is seen as a possible arbiter in case of conflicts arising from buleladitswe, they say.  

Tsogwane’s backers say he is someone who knows his ceiling and he will not develop ‘ideas’ of grabbing more power should he be elevated to the position of chairman. “We do not want someone who will think of challenging Masisi just because they are now chairman,” said a BDP insider. In this long and short race there is another additional member, Samson Guma Moyo, a fervent supporter of Vice President Masisi, whose appetite for lobbying is patent. Guma Moyo’s name always springs up when there is jostling for positions within the ruling party.

At some point (2013) Guma Moyo was elected party chairman in Maun only to resign later citing sabotage and unfriendly accusations relating to the conduct of buleladitswe. His name is in the basket of possibilities again today but some of his party colleagues point back to the events of 2013 when he resigned to validate why he cannot replace Masisi as chairman of the party.

But those pushing Guma Moyo’s name are adamant that circumstances have changed and he must be given the position. Guma Moyo is one of the most vocal and coherent backbenchers in Parliament at the moment, and there are fears that his potential elevation to chairmanship could soften his voice in Parliament especially at oversight committees since he will be the recognized face of the party at structure level.

Guma Moyo is known to have influence in the party because of his resources and methods of operation. But Guma’s main challenge at the central committee is that there are a number of people he has antagonized including Dorcas Makgato whom he did not support in her bid for Women’s Wing chairmanship and Mpho Balopi who is now the secretary general of the BDP. Guma Moyo did not support Balopi at the formative stages of his bid for secretary general position.
Balopi is seen as a very influential figure today who also holds a powerful position and with the ongoing lobbying, he may be key in tilting the scales against Guma Moyo.

Another candidate, Guma Moyo’s sworn in nemesis, Tshekedi Khama wields immense power because of the family name but his independent mind also gives him marks for consideration in this position. It is likely that Tshekedi Khama will just have to await his turn, which not far from now. Party insiders share that the outspoken Khama could challenge for the position of chairman at the next elective congress of the party. Tshekedi Khama has supporters who want him to prepare himself for presidency of the party.

He had wanted to bid for chairmanship of the party last year, indications are that he was talked out of the idea of challenging Vice President Masisi. He is one of the popular characters in the BDP central committee but politics of lineage and potential backlash associated with it could retrain his supporters from acting to their gut feeling. Tshekedi Khama is seen as being in line to become leader of the BDP at some point in future.

Meanwhile most in the party believe that Masisi owns the surge of his political traction to his 2015 campaign team that ensured that he becomes chairman for the first time. His campaign team was then led by former Councillor Ishmael Legwaila who has since been rewarded by being appointed court president in Jwaneng, he is on D1 scale.

The team also included Councillor Ratora, Councillor Monageng, both from Serowe; Amogelang Mojuta, Isaac Maforaga and Victor Malete whose tag named was commander of ground forces. At the time Vincent Seretse was responsible for strategy. The common belief is that those who led the build up to the Tonota victory found well laid foundations hence theirs was just to cement Masisi as the heir to the throne.

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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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