The newly formed Alliance for Progressives (AP) may divide the leadership of Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) as recent developments may force re-alignment in labour politics.
Leading figures of BOFEPUSU Johnson Motshwarakgole, who is the Labour Secretary and Tobokani Rari, the Secretary General attended the announcement of party new formation on Wednesday this week. The duo among others has declared their support for Ndaba Gaolathe during the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) factional battles that led to the split in the party.
BOFEPUSU is made up of the Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and National Amalgamated, Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU) as well as other unions in private sector, making it the biggest and the most influential labour movement in Botswana.
This week, Gaolathe led group bolted out of the UDC coalition and announced the formation of a new political party. The formation of a new party has been a matter of speculation since the bloody and violent Matshekge Congress in Bobonong, which produced parallel National Executive Committees (NEC) for BMD, both claiming legitimacy. Allegedly, this has however created a rift in the BOFEPUSU leadership because the federation was given a mandate to support a united opposition at its last year’s July Congress.
In the recent past, Rari had also hinted at the possibility of re-arrangement of furniture, a statement deduced to mean changing of political alignment ahead of 2019 general elections. The need to “re-arrange furniture” may compel the federation to go back to the membership to seek a new mandate. This week, the Deputy Secretary General of BOFEPUSU, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa down played the recent developments in an interview with one of the local Radio Stations, insisting that the federation will support ‘a united opposition” as per congress resolution.
A leading member of BOFEPUSU who is also President of Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), Thatayoane Mokhurutshe has indicated his support for UDC president in the wake of the formation of a new party – AP. This publication also understands that Mokhurutshe is of the view that the Goalathe group bolted earlier rather than wait for the mediation process.
Mokhurutshe told this publication that the “4th of May BOFEPUSU Congress reiterated its support for UDC and such would only change if there is another resolution.” He however stated that people are reading a lot from personal preferences of individuals to the position of BOFEPUSU. BOFEPUSU secretary general, Rari said there is no division in the BOFEPUSU leadership with regard to choosing between AP and UDC.
“There is nothing that has changed regarding the well-known BOFEPUSU political standard. Of course we acknowledge the latest development in the political space of the country,” he said. “These are circumstances that we are closely watching and we would like to take a back seat and watch as things unfold. It’s too early for us to be mingling; we may at a later stage step into the fray in a conciliatory tone.” At the memorial of Gomolemo Motswaledi, the late president of BMD, Motshwarakgole called for the formation of a ‘new movement’ as the only way resolve the problems facing BMD and by extension the UDC. Speaking indirectly, Motshwarakgole said they should not create ‘a dictator’ like the BDP has done with President Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Reports are growing thick and fast to the effect that there is a huge fall-out between BOFEPUSU leadership and UDC leader Duma Boko. Insiders reveal that the fall-out has been a result of a belief by BOFEPUSU that the UDC does not value the former’s contribution to the UDC since formation. Weekend Post has found out that BOFEPUSU is of the view that the UDC leader has acted in bad faith by ‘sidelining’ opposition cooperation convenors in the talks that led to the arrival of Botswana Congress Party (BCP). BOFEPUSU’s position is also shared by Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) as well as BNF Vice President, Rev Prince Dibeela.
However, reliable sources indicated that Boko has shown his resentment towards BOFEPUSU for wanting to exert control in UDC affairs. According to reports, the source of the rift between BOFEPUSU and UDC came in the wake of the arrival of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and a later the resolution adopted by the Botswana National Front (BNF) to mediate between BOPEU and BOFEPUSU following an acrimonious relationship which has been playing out in public domain since 2015.
The deterioration in relations was set in motion by BOFEPUSU’s decision to endorse UDC ahead of 2014 general elections, while BOPEU was strongly against endorsing any political party. Since then the leadership of the two unions has exchanged words in public domain. Recently BOFEPUSU accused BOPEU of conniving with government to collapse the country’s bargaining council. BOFEPUSU were of the view that BOPEU was working against the interest of the workers.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.
“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).