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Kokorwe launches scathing attack on Boko

Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe has said Duma Boko’s statement on Botswana China relations in 2016 that was expunged from the parliamentary minutes contained untruths, offensive and insulting language about members of the Assembly and in particular President Lt. Ian Khama.

This has come to the fore following Boko’s decision to challenge parliament’s decision to expunge from the Hansard his statement made on Febraury 26 2016 regarding Botswana/China relations, a decision he said infringed on his freedom of expression rights. The case will be heard by Justice Godfrey Radijeng at the Gaborone High Court on March 22.


In the case, Boko is suing both the speaker of the national assembly and the Attorney General, Abraham Keetshabe. The Leader of Opposition is seeking leave of the court to call upon Kokorwe to show cause why her decision to expunge his statements from the Hansard should not be reviewed and set aside; and also for the court to declare Kokorwe’s decision to expunge his views from the Hansard to be an unconstitutional infringement of his right to freedom of expression.

During his speech in the National Assembly on February 26, 2016, Boko had said:
 “We hear of alleged closure of the embassy of China. This closure temporary as it may have been, carried a potent and ominous message for our country and its people. It was ascribed to the bruing diplomatic tensions between the Botswana and Chinese governments. The government of Botswana had in one of its many instances of thoughtless enthusiasm issued a condemnatory statement against The People’s Republic of China in respect of certain unresolved issues and territorial claims to the South China Sea.” The aforesaid statement is untrue and offensive to the President.

“We observed in fairness to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, that the statement could not have been crafted by mature, measured and able Honorable Venson Moitoi or her circle of professional diplomats. We have it on good authority that it is yet another Act by the over-zealous and immature Office of the President which continues to govern and operate on unbridled emotion and astonishing lack of foresight. We pray and hope that this callous mismanagement of our foreign policy does not plunge our country into an abyss from which we may not be able to extricate ourselves.”

In her replying affidavit, Kokorwe also stated that it “shall be out of order” to use offensive and insulting language about members of the assembly. “Boko was not only highly critical and uncomplimentary to the Botswana government, but offensive and insulting in the use of language to members of the Assembly and sought to impute improper motives to the President,” she noted.

She urged the court to show its displeasure regarding the applicant’s language by making a special costs order against him. However, Kokorwe said that she did not take the decision to remove Boko’s statement, saying instead, “The decision was taken by the National Assembly as a collective.” She further challenged the BNF president to cite the National Assembly as a respondent in the case as “failure to do so renders the application fatally flawed”.

“At no stage did I decide to expunge or allow to be expunged from the Hansard any statement by the applicant. On contrary, a motion was duly adopted by the National Assembly by majority vote to expunge the applicant’s statement on the basis that it contained untruths and plead with offensive and insulting language about members of the Assembly and in particular the President .”

Kokorwe further argued that at the heart of the application lay the right of the National Assembly to regulate its own procedures and conduct of the members thereof. She said in terms of the doctrine of separation of powers, the court has no jurisdiction to rule on matters falling within the exclusive domain of the legislature. According to Kokorwe, a motion to rescind and expunge from the minutes is a well-known exceptional motion by which the entire membership of the National Assembly expresses its strongest disapproval about the conduct of a member. The motion, she stated, requires a majority vote.

“There simply was no shutdown temporarily or otherwise of the Chinese Embassy in Botswana and the reference by the applicant to allegations that abounded does not make it true,” she noted. According to Kokorwe, immediately after the statement was made, a Member of Parliament for Francistown West, Ignatius Moswaane submitted a written notification to her that he wished to introduce a motion in respect of a definite matter of urgent public importance in order to expunge the applicant’s statement from the minutes on the basis that the facts stated therein were untrue.  

On April 8, 2016 Moswaane requested her to extend the daily order paper to include a motion to the effect “that this speaker adopt a motion calling for the speaker to expunge from records of parliament the statement made by Boko regarding the claims that the Chinese Embassy was closed and that our government was irresponsible to make statements that affects international matters.”

She said having allowed a debate on a point of order; she allowed the motion to be debated. “The debate was, however, short-lived and chaotic. I adjourned the Assembly. On July 7, 2016 I allowed Moswaane to speak to the aforesaid motion and allowed a debate about the motion,” she stated. “I regarded the matter urgent because I deemed it necessary that the debate should take place in the presence of the applicant in order for him to participate freely in the debate. The applicant however, did not regularly attend meetings of the National Assembly.”

Kokorwe said while she admits that no official institution may be transformed into an instrument of political party propaganda, she denies the removal from the minutes of the applicant’s speech has that effect. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi corroborated Kokorwe’s speech, adding that during the time when Boko made a speech the Embassy of China was not closed and “neither was closure threatened by the Chinese government”

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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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