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Wednesday, 06 December 2023

Has the new party (AP) divided BOFEPUSU?


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.

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BPC Signs PPA with Sekaname Energy

4th December 2023

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.

The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.

Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.

The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.

Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.

Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.

In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.

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UDC deadlock: Boko, Ndaba, Reatile meet  

4th December 2023

It is not clear as to when, but before taking a festive break in few weeks’ time UDC leaders would have convened to address the ongoing deadlock surrounding constituency allocation in the negotiations for the 2024 elections. The leaders, Duma Boko of the UDC, Mephato Reggie Reatile of the BPF, and Ndaba Gaolathe of the AP, are expected to meet and discuss critical matters and engage in dialogue regarding the contested constituencies.

The negotiations hit a stalemate when it came to allocating constituencies, prompting the need for the leaders to intervene. Representatives from the UDC, AP, and BPF were tasked with negotiating the allocation, with Dr. Patrick Molotsi and Dr. Philip Bulawa representing the UDC, and Dr. Phenyo Butale and Wynter Mmolotsi representing the AP.

The leaders’ meeting is crucial in resolving the contentious issue of constituency allocation, which has caused tension among UDC members and potential candidates for the 2024 elections. After reaching an agreement, the leaders will engage with the members of each constituency to gauge their opinions and ensure that the decisions made are favored by the rank and file. This approach aims to avoid unnecessary costs and conflicts during the general elections.

One of the main points of contention is the allocation of Molepolole South, which the BNF is adamant about obtaining. In the 2019 elections, the UDC was the runner-up in Molepolole South, securing the second position in seven out of eight wards. Other contested constituencies include Metsimotlhabe, Kgatleng East and West, Mmadinare, Francistown East, Shashe West, Boteti East, and Lerala Maunatlala.

The criteria used for constituency allocation have also become a point of dispute among the UDC member parties. The issue of incumbency is particularly contentious, as the criterion for constituency allocation suggests that current holders of UDC’s council and parliamentary seats should be given priority for re-election without undergoing primary elections. Disadvantaged parties argue that this approach limits democratic competition and hinders the emergence of potentially more capable candidates.

Another disputed criterion is the allocation based on the strength and popularity of a party in specific areas. Parties argue that this is a subjective criterion that leads to disputes and favoritism, as clear metrics for strength and visibility cannot be defined. The BNF, in particular, questions the demands of the new entrants, the BPF and AP, as they lack a traceable track record to support their high expectations.

The unity and cohesion of the UDC are at stake, with the BPF and AP expressing dissatisfaction and considering withdrawing from the negotiations. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to expedite their meeting and find a resolution to these disputes.

In the midst of these negotiations, the BNF has already secured 15 constituencies within the UDC coalition. While the negotiations are still ongoing, BNF Chairman Dr. Molotsi revealed that they have traditionally held these constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally. The constituencies include Gantsi North, Gantsi South, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Good Hope – Mmathethe, Kanye North, Kanye South, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnignton North, Takatokwane, Letlhakeng, and Tlokweng.

The resolution of the contested constituencies will test the ability of the UDC to present a united front in the 2024 National Elections will depend on the decisions made by the three leaders. It is essential for them to demonstrate maturity and astuteness in resolving the constituency allocation deadlock and ensuring the cohesion of the UDC.





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Repeat flight-risk suspect pays the piper

4th December 2023

In Botswana, the Constitution Section 5 (3) (b) provides that conditions of bail are necessary to ensure that an accused appears at a later date for trial or for proceedings preliminary to trial. These conditions may include restrictions on interfering with state witnesses, the payment of a certain amount, the provision of sureties, the submission of travel documents, reporting to the police regularly, and appearing for all court mentions or proceedings. Failure to abide by these conditions can result in the revocation of bail. Robert Seditseng, a murder accused who has been detained since 2016, is currently facing the consequences of not adhering to his bail conditions – therefore paying the piper.

Despite numerous unsuccessful bail applications over the past five years, Gaborone High Court judge Michael Leburu denied Seditseng bail this week. Seditseng had requested to be set free before his trial starts on April 12th, but his freedom will now depend on the verdict. He is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Siscah Mutukee, on June 22nd, 2016, in Charleshill.

Judge Leburu ruled that Seditseng is not a candidate for bail due to being a flight risk, as he has previously absconded from court. Defense lawyer David Ndlovu pleaded with the court to consider the time Seditseng has already spent in prison, but Leburu questioned whether there was any guarantee that Seditseng would not abscond again, given that he had done so twice before.

An affidavit from Investigations officer (IO), Constable Kedibonye Botsalo, supports the view that Seditseng is not a suitable candidate for bail due to his tendency to abscond when granted bail. The affidavit explains that Seditseng was initially denied bail by the magistrate court due to ongoing investigations and the possibility of tampering with evidence. However, a concession was later made by the prosecution, and Seditseng was granted conditional bail by the lower court.

The court documents reveal that Seditseng failed to appear before court on March 7th, 2016, without providing any explanation. As a result, a warrant for his arrest was issued. The case proceeded without him on several occasions until he finally appeared before court on July 13th, 2017. On that day, Seditseng’s bail was revoked due to his inability to provide valid reasons for his absences.

On October 4th, 2017, Seditseng was granted bail for the second time. However, he was once again absent from court on October 31st, 2017, without providing any reasons. He continued to be absent from court on five subsequent occasions until his arrest and appearance before court on August 30th, 2018.

During a period of nine months, Seditseng absconded from court without providing any reasons for his actions. This repeated pattern of absconding demonstrates a clear disregard for the bail conditions and raises concerns about his willingness to appear for trial.

Given Seditseng’s history of absconding and the potential risk of him doing so again, Judge Leburu’s decision to deny him bail is justified. The purpose of bail is to ensure the accused’s presence at trial, and Seditseng has repeatedly shown a lack of commitment to fulfilling this obligation. It is crucial to prioritize the safety of the community and the integrity of the justice system by keeping flight-risk suspects like Seditseng in custody until their trial is concluded.

In conclusion, the denial of bail to repeat flight-risk suspect Robert Seditseng is a necessary measure to ensure his appearance at trial. His history of absconding from court and failure to provide valid reasons for his actions demonstrate a disregard for the bail conditions and raise concerns about his willingness to face justice. By denying him bail, the court is prioritizing the safety of the community and upholding the integrity of the justice system.



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