The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and Member of Parliament for Boteti West Slumber Tsogwane has turned on his decision to retire at the end his current term in 2019.
This publication has been informed that the longest-serving elected legislator, styled Father of the House in parliament changed his mind after being coaxed by incoming President Mokgweetsi Masisi, and Samson Moyo Guma, a key member of Masisi’s team. “He has now abandoned plans to retire; he is contesting again in 2019. It was Guma [Moyo] who persuaded him to contest in 2019 for reasons that they themselves know,” an insider revealed.
Guma remains a king maker in the greater scheme of things — serving as one of Masisi’s trusted men. Since 2015, Guma has been at the forefront of the election machinery that has ensured that Masisi wins and retains the party chairmanship in 2015 and 2017 respectively. “He is a strategist. Very effective and leads from the front. When he believes in a cause he goes all the way,” hinted one of Guma’s allies.
Tsogwane was scheduled to be succeeded by the youthful Bogolo Kenewendo at Boteti West. Kenewendo was serving as Trade Advisor to the Government of Ghana when she was called to take up the legislative post. This was subsequent to the amendment of the constitution by parliament increasing the number of specially elected MPs from four to six. Kenewendo was sworn in along with former Jwaneng-Mabutsane legislator, Mephato Reatile
Although Tsogwane’s impending retirement was known, Tsogwane had for sometime declined to shed light on his anticipated departure as he noted that only time will reveal what will happen between then and the 2019 general elections. “We are not there yet,” Tsogwane told WeekendPost last year, “Nobody has declared their ambitions because we are still dealing with the primary elections for opposition held constituencies. You’ll know when such time arrives.”
Tsogwane is a key member of Masisi’s allies, and has been tipped as a potential Vice Presidential candidate for the country’s number two post, which will become vacant when Masisi ascends to the presidency at the beginning of next month. Tsogwane made it to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee last year contesting under Masisi’s lobby list. Tsogwane has also been mentioned as a potential replacement for Masisi as party chairman as Masisi takes the party leadership role concurrently with that of the presidency.
When asked in 2017 if BDP was grooming Kenewendo to take over Boteti West, Tsogwane laughed off the question. “Maybe you can ask her, she is in a better position to tell if she interested in contesting,” he said. It is was also reported that the decision to persuade him was informed by the fear that Boteti West was no longer a safe BDP stronghold, and fielding Kenewendo before endearing himself to constituents could back fire considering the dynamics of the constituency.
While the constituency has never been won by the opposition, the Botswana National Front (BNF), now under the auspices of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has made inroads in the constituency over the past decade. In the 2014 general elections, Tsogwane defeated Sam Digwa of UDC by a margin of less than 300 votes, thanks to the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) vote splitting. Tsogwane got 5790, Sam Digwa 5549 while Tjiliga Letsholo of BCP came a distant third with 622 votes.
The constituency, though a BDP stronghold, has failed to attract heavy weights in party primaries. Tsogwane became the MP for the constituency after defeating Gabofele Masusu in party primaries, then known as the committee of 18 in 1999. Currently alongside Venson-Moitoi, Tsogwane is the longest serving Member of Parliament, hence the Father of the House title, which is given to the oldest serving male legislator. For a very long time, the title was the preserve of Daniel Kwelagobe, who served for 45 years as Member of Parliament.
Kenewendo who was lined up to replace Tsogwane will reportedly get another nod as Specially Elected legislator after the 2019 general elections. Ever since being elected as MP, Kenewendo has been accompanying Tsogwane in Kgotla meetings in Boteti West. It is believed the move was meant to endear the youthful legislator to the constituents. Kenewendo’s contribution in parliament has also raised suspicion, with most of her questions, if not relating to fiscal policy related to the constituency.
Last year, Kenewendo asked the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama on interventions he had put in place to enable Boteti West communities to benefit from the two parks surrounding them being; CKGR and the Makgadikgadi National Park. Other questions, including regarding the dire water situation in Boteti West have also been posed by the youthful MP.
2014 General Elections Results BDP 5790 UDC 5549 BCP 622
2009 General Elections Results BDP 4790 BNF 3748 BCP 459
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.
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.
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.”