President Lt Gen Ian Khama has refuted claims that he in possession of keys to the Gcwihaba Caves but admitting that one of the caverns is locked.
Speaking at his farewell Kgotla meeting in Maun he said the cavern was locked to protect members of the public from dangerous marauding snakes in the caverns. According to Khama, the keys are with the Department of National Museum, Monuments and Gallery. Questions had also been raised over Khama’s enchantment with the Gcwihaba Caves in Ngamiland and how Khama have come to own an island home at Shakawe.
The last time Khama addressed a Kgotla meeting in Maun West was in 2012. Residents had for many years requested Minister Tshekedi Khama to address them on these concerns but he never came. However as Khama nears his March 31 retirement date, governments relationship with Batawana has surprisingly radically changed.
In December last year, Tshekedi Khama, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, conservation and Tourism finally addressed Batawana royals on some of the tribe’s concerns. The main issue on the agenda was reportedly the protracted Moremi Game reserve issue which has been a thorn between the tribe and government. It was the first time minister Khama had addressed since the tribe had requested for a meeting with him since 2015. However a decision on the issue has not yet been finalised.
It is understood that Minister Khama in that meeting made an undertaking that Batawana will be given some tourism concessions in the Okavango Delta something many believe explains the newly found love between Kgosi Moremi, Batawana and Khama’s government. According to a highly placed source with links to the royal family, a breakthrough has not been reached on concessions allocation to the Morafe. “It is true they promised to allocate Batawana some concessions as compensation for the Moremi Game Reserve. But we are not happy as the concessions they are promising to us are not prime tourism concessions. So the negotiations are still on.”
At this farewell tour in Maun on Thursday afternoon Khama was showered with 30 cattle, 20 goats, 16 chickens and 1 donkey as farewell presents. He used the gathering to scorn his political nemesis for finding themselves with a humble pie to eat for spreading rumors that he was a dictator. “Where are all the people who have rumor mongering that I am a dictator who will refuse to abdicate power after serving my term.”
Meanwhile the biggest talking point coming from the meeting was the apparent newly found cooperation between Khama and Tawana Moremi. Khama promised to take Moremi to Gcwihaba Caves after their retirement. Moremi also revealed that he is retiring from politics after serving his current term. Moremi is the Batawana Chief and Maun West Member of Parliament. Over the years, Moremi and Khama did not see eye to eye with Moremi using every available opportunity to express his disdain to Khama. During the meeting, Moremi deviated from his norm of attacking Khama. Moremi said he always knew that Khama will hand power when his term ends contrary to what others believed.
Moremi further expressed his admiration for Seretse Khama, Botswana’s late first president and father to the current outgoing president. He advised Ian to read extensively books about the legacy of Seretse Khama, underscoring this with a rhetorical question:” I wonder if you know Seretse Khama very well.” Moremi further volunteered to help the outgoing president in the quest of reading and knowing, his father, Seretse Khama.
Moremi has in the past always used his Kgotla meetings to express his discontentment with Khama’s leadership. At the centre of his discontentment has dominance of the tourism industry by foreigners. Moremi has also been known to be vocal on the ownership of Moremi Game Reserve (MGR) which is both claimed by Batawana and government. Established in the Batawana tribal land in 1962 for conservation of wildlife, MGR was transferred to government but the tribe contends that they still own the property and want to accrue some royalties from its tourism.
On another issue President Ian Khama once again fired another salvo at US president Donald Trump advising him to come for a free lesson of Ubuntu in Africa. Khama’s second blow on Trump for his infamous ‘Shithole’ description of African Countries came just days after another African leader; Yoweri Museveni of Uganda reportedly praised Trump for being frank about Africa by calling her in the vulgar name.
Khama however called Trump ‘Mr Fake news’ saying he is ‘ill-mannered’ for insulting African countries. President Khama said if Trump continues to be ill-mannered, Africans will show him how to behave. Khama opined that Trump seems to think that being the President of the most powerful nation in the world gives him powers to be disrespectful. “As a leader, you have to show humility not go around insulting others. When you we will show you your position. Khama preached the concept of Ubuntu Botho which underscores humanity to others.
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.
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.
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.”