Batawana Chief, Kgosi Tawana Moremi II has vowed to never return to Ntlo Ya Dikgosi (NYD) as long as chieftaincy remains under the authority of Ministry of Local Government.
Moremi has reiterated that he will not contest for the 2019 general elections following his resignation from coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). A candid talker, Moremi does not hide his resentment for the current practice which places Dikgosi under the authority of Local Government. “With bogosi nothing has changed, I still have a problem with being under the authority of local government,” he said when quizzed about the possibility of returning to Ntlo Ya Dikgosi. Currently the Batawana chieftainship is under the regency of Kealetile Moremi, the sister to Kgosi Tawana Moremi II.
His view on chiefs being subjected to the authority of Local Government is in line with that of Bakgatla chief Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela. Kgosi Kgafela had a fall-out with government over wide ranging issues regarding chieftainship which ultimately led to his de-recognition by then Minister of Local Government Lebonaamang Mokalake. Kgosi Tawana, currently a member of parliament for Maun West said when he left Ntlo Ya Dikgosi almost a decade ago, he had a problem with it being unable to solve most of the problems faced by his tribesmen. He had thought being a legislator would provide a better platform to address the problems.
As a result of pressure from the tribe in 2003, Kgosi Tawana Moremi applied to participate in the BDP primary elections, but his name was vetted out. The then A-Team controlled central committee fighting ‘Khama’s battles’ refused to allow Kgosi Tawana, who belonged to a rival Barataphathi faction, to participate in the primary elections because he had previously publicly criticised then Vice President, Ian Khama. He would however get his way in the 2008 elections, beating Ronald Ridge in the primary elections before winning general elections. But parliament and politics have proved not to be as enterprising as he had thought, eventually leading to him announcing earlier this year that he will not seek re-election in the upcoming general elections.
Kgosi Tawana’s stay in politics saw him defecting from ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to its splinter party, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) in 2011 and later contesting the 2014 general elections under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) banner. From there, Moremi shared that he would be focusing more on tourism to ensure that the community benefits from the tourism rich area. An avid believer in tourism, he spends most of his time researching on tourism. Kgosi Tawana has an ongoing battle with government over the ownership of Moremi Game reserve.
Batawana royals through an anticipated court battle want to fight the 1979 presidential directive which ordered Moremi Game Reserve to be transferred from the community to the government. Moremi Game Reserve which was established in 1963 by Batawana was reassigned to government to take care of its administration and management in 1979. However, a bitter debate has erupted in recent years between government and Batawana royals with regard to the ownership of the game reserve.
The tribe now seeks to compel government through court to produce records showing an agreement reached by the two parties in transferring the ownership of the game reserve. Although not yet before the court the tribe has already engaged lawyers on the matter with a view of seeking justice from the courts of law, with their evidence in records format protected and secured in all corners of the globe. In 2016 Kgosi Tawana revealed to this publication that his bid to return the game reserve to the hands of the people was a target of ruling party propaganda.
“During a rally which was addressed in Maun in the run up to elections, I was described as a poor chief who wanted to use the game reserve to enrich himself,” he said. “But later on people understood what we are trying to achieve and more people are starting to support our resolve.” The Batawana Chief also highlighted that after an unenviable period, the tribe has managed to raise finances enough to fund the court case. “There has been pressure from the media and the community to take the matter to court but we do not want to rush the case lest we lose it [case] on small technicalities,” he said.
Government has in the past consistently refused to produce records showing the agreement it reached with the community over transferring natural resources rights. “It is outright unlawful for government as the trustee of records to conceal the agreements,” he argued. It was reported in the last few years that Moremi Game Reserve was generating about P60 million annually, an amount which could be vital for the community’s empowerment according to the Batawana Chief.
“There are different models we can use to generate income and empower the community through affirmative action measures that will ensure that the community becomes part of the value chain in terms of business operations of the game reserve,” he contended.Tawana said the current arrangement does not benefit locals since they are not part of the supply chain and people and companies who are often contracted to do business in Moremi Game Reserve are not from the North West.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.