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Bakgatla divided over Khama

A Kgotla meeting in Mochudi on Wednesday morning addressed by Bakgatla leader, Kgosi Bana Sekai to engage the morafe on farewell contributions for President Lt Gen Ian Khama revealed a highly polarised tribe.

President Khama is scheduled for a farewell visit to the village on February 15 this year. At the meeting, Kgosi Sekai persuaded his people to let sleeping dogs lie and bid the president farewell without incident just like other tribes have done. Bakgatla showed up in numbers for the meeting, and some did not hold back on their displeasure towards the subject that was discussed at the meeting.  While others wanted to mend relations with the government for the sake of their Bogosi, they believed several decisions by the Khama administration have divided them.

“As you are all aware the President will also visit us here to bid farewell as he vacates his office, so we are pleading with you not to lag behind and contribute something as a gift for him. Let us do what other villages have been doing,” Sekai told his audience which was dominated older members of the tribe. While the Kgosi was making his address, the villagers were murmuring to each other- perhaps indicating that they were against what their leader was proposing.

After Sekai’s address, some of the elderly members took to the podium to express their frustration with the administration. One of the elderly attendees, Patla Tsae said that there were a lot of unresolved issues between the morafe and the President. He said the morafe was still upset because the president never came back to intervene on their issues and he is already leaving office, yet those issues remained unresolved. “We struggled with our chieftainship for the better half of his term, what is he coming to do now? We want Mokgatla, full-stop,” he said.  

Another elderly man took to the podium and said:”Bakgatla re hupetse ke puso ye, yaanong gare ntshe sepe go ya ko go Tautona (Bakgatla have had it with this government, we will not contribute anything for the president)”, he received cheer as he supported himself with a stick back to his seat.

According to Bakgatla, the president does not deserve any gifts from them for his farewell because he is the reason their KgosiKgolo Kgafela Kgafela II is in exile. “As a result we are without a leader for a long time, yet the president did not attempt to fix things in our village during his term.”

“Kgosi Sekai you were supposed to say the president is coming to bid us farewell and he should also give us our Kgosi. We should ask him questions because we are divided as we don’t have a Kgosi. Gare kake ra mo fa dikgogo le mae a tsona re sena kgosi (we can’t give him our chickens and their eggs while we don’t have a Kgosi),” another resident Steven Makhura said.

The charismatic Makhura went on to mobilize the tribe to ask the president questions as to what he did for Bakgatla ever-since he assumed office in 2008. “If he can bring back our kgosi then we will contribute for his farewell,” he concluded his comments amid a loud thunder of cheer from the residents. Meanwhile, some of the villagers wanted to redeem the village’s reputation and act accordingly, and encouraged that others too, do so.

“This should be voluntary and of course we will contribute, we shouldn’t be known to be rebels let us do what other tribes have been doing,” said Motsei Senwelo. Sekai called on to the villagers to come to a united conclusion and avoid stepping on government’s toes. Notably, the royal family was absent from the kgotla meeting. Some of the tribe did not approve of Sekai as their new leader after he was appointed as Deputy Chief by Kgafela and his Mangana regiment.

MARIJUANA LEGALISATION

The meeting immediately took another turn, as the villagers capitalised on the gathering to plead with their leader, to make known their pleas for the legalisation of marijuana. The villagers vowed to engage the president on the issue during his farewell visit. According to the villagers, marijuana should be legalised but regulated. They argue that some people use the herb for medicinal purposes.

REINTRODUCTION OF FLOGGINGS

The community appealed to the village leadership to reinstate floggings as the district is recording sky high cases of crime and other illicit acts. The villagers say without punishment, cases of murder which of recent have been rising will continue to do so. The village leadership say it is consulting with government on how best to practise corporal punishment although they concurred that punishment of offenders by flogging was needed as a way of restoring order in the area.

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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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