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BDP offers therapy to Bulela Ditswe losers

Ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is working around the clock to undertake “counselling sessions” for its party members who lost the recent primary elections dubbed Bulela Ditswe.

Preliminary indications suggest that most that were trounced are not taking kindly their defeat and are preparing to launch objections at Tsholetsa house. BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi told WeekendPost in an exclusive interview subsequent to the party press conference this week that they will provide counselling to all the losers.

“We know the losers are in pain. So we are going to take everything into consideration and even offer them counselling losers. We have a process beyond just the Central Committee, from now on if we realize that somebody needs Counselling. There is nothing as bruising as Central committee elections,” Balopi highlighted.

The ruling party SG explained notwithstanding that there was not even a single person who did not make it at the hot heated Tonota Congress who lost the Central committee positions who left the party. “But that’s the most painful of them all because it’s national,” he added to illustrate his point.

“So we strongly believe that the peace that we have been preaching is prevailing, right from the Central Committee,” Balopi emphasised to this publication. For the first time at the party, there are eight Members of Parliament (MP’s) candidates who are unopposed, and that he said, shows that there are is headway being made with regards to attaining tranquillity within the party.  “So we will continue and we will not try to be ruthless or harsh regardless of the triviality or the magnitude of the complaints. We will just give it the same level of importance.”
 

According to Balopi, the just ended 2018 Bulela Ditswe elections were the best they have ever conducted as a party. However the BDP SG pointed out that although so far they have not received any official protest, they continue to hear some people who are rejecting the results. He added: “the Electoral Board is the one that receives the protests, and after receiving the protests they evaluate them and forward to the Central Committee if they have not been able to solve them.”

In a calculated move, Balopi then took a swipe at the losers: “you should ask those people who are making noise that if they won what would they have said. You see they are making noise because they have lost.”  He highlighted that “if the proper process was followed, there is absolutely nothing that we can do. You see there are bad losers and good losers. And in between there are those who are objective”.

“If I can tell you, these elections are in no way near any previous ones in terms of problems. The way we have locked in, and being able to isolate the real problems. And it’s very important to understand this.” In unpacking the issue, Balopi said some of the objections are trivial and unreasonable. “Imagine if someone says when the elections results were announced he was not in the school hall where the elections were held to witness them. I mean really? Think about it. Is that a protest? Whose responsibility is it?”

He said however their processes allow that such contestants have representatives sitting there to observe the elections whether they are free and fair throughout. The BDP spokesperson observed that everyone has the right to sit and observe the vote counting before announcing of results takes place and they can as well ask for a recount when dissatisfied. “So how do you just not necessarily agree because you were not there? You need to be accountable for your actions as well,” he pointed out.  

On whether the protests will not in a way further divide and polarize the party resulting in the BDP losing the constituencies again, Balopi said: “it will depend on how we handle the protests. As SG I can attest to you that there will be fairness. Whether there is proof that there were some irregularities, they will be attended to in a very objective manner.”

Balopi stated that “if something comes in that does not hold water then it will be demonstrated to that particular person in a manner that is cordial. We will not ridicule you just because you did not follow procedure to complain. This is so because we understand that at the end we want to make sure that the party becomes the winner not the individual. We will adjudicate on case by case and how we do that will also depend on case by case.”

According to Article 13 of the BDP Code of Conduct for candidates in Primary Elections which is on page 51 of the BDP Constitution “the unsuccessful candidates shall consistently demonstrate commitment, loyalty and support to the Party and its candidate, furthermore ensure that their supporters equally demonstrate loyalty and support to the party and its candidate.”

A BDP member in good standing, Shima Monageng who lost to Kabo Morwaeng by 1844 to 2693 votes told WeekendPost this week when contacted that he will offer an official objection at the Tsholetsa house before the seven days ultimatum elapses.

“I have sought advice for course of action following the glaring irregularities at Bulela Ditswe and, I will protest accordingly. I will appeal for an investigation to be done if indeed there were irregularities and if that’s the position of the party then a re-run be considered to avoid disenfranchising democracy,” he highlighted.

Monageng, who was reluctant to speak to this publication to avoid jeopardizing his appeal, stressed that all over the world elections must not be taken for granted because they represent the will of the people. He warned that if such happens, the people (or voters) will react in such a manner that may affect the party and in this case the BDP may be affected adversely.

According to Monageng, the branch Secretary was not impartial and they caught some party members’ red handed distributing membership cards during the election and they did not deny it. He added that some voters were turned down as they did not appear on the voters roll. “Action must be taken appropriately. I cannot bottle my disappointment as I am not fighting my party. This is not the first time as it happened in 2013.”

Meanwhile Monageng also took to social media (Facebook) stating his discontentment: “having stood for BDP primary elections four times in succession at Molepolole South is not a joke! In my posts I am straining myself and simply providing facts as briefly as I can. People should know that we as democrats and members of BDP are not under any bondage. This is democracy. We are members of this great party at our own will, and not forcefully.”

He added, in a move seen to be directed to his rival Morwaeng that “we who are within and have stayed loyal to the party for this long, our voices must be heard and given due consideration. As a liberal person and politician, I do accept positive criticism and variance of views, provided all is done with humility.”

Apart from Monageng, information reaching WeekendPost suggests that in Francistown South, Khumongwana Maoto and Lamodimo Dikomang who were both trounced by Modiri JoJo Lucas are also discontented by the results. Lucas triumphed with 906 votes against Maoto’s 496 as well as Dikomang who only got 306.

In Gantsi North, the same protests are also said to be underway after Greg Losibe was narrowly defeated by John Thiite with 1566 to 1582. When contacted for comment at press time, Losibe said he was in a meeting and could not comment.  Another objection expected is from Pelonomi Bantsi who was defeated by Christian Nthuba by 629 to 865 in Gaborone Bonnington South. Bantsi however stated to this publication that he is restrained to offer any comment as he was still consulting on the matter.

In other elections, although not clear at this stage whether they will officially launch objections; Oarabile Ragoeng lost at Molepolole North by 1852 against Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri’s 1869 while Botsalo M Rabogadi trailed behind with 477 votes.

In Jwaneng-Mabutsane, both Dibeela Shobashoba and Amos Johanne were whitewashed by Mephato Reatile. Shobashoba garnered 702 while 
Johanne got 666 against Mephato Reatile’s whooping 2206. 

Batlhalefi Leagajang who has since publicly accepted the results was hammered by Mmusi Kgafela by 575 to 1759 votes in Mochudi West. Mogoditshane will be represented by Tshephang Mabaila. Mabaila won with 1227 votes against Patrick Masimolole’s 350, Mogogi Tshiamo’s 390, Kgang Kgang’s 342 and Otisitswe Baolwetse at 80.

In Gabane-Mankgodi, Philip Mokento, Pius Ntwayagae, Joseph Makati, lost to Kagiso Mmusi by 305, 227, and 847 against 2386 votes. In Ramotswa, Lentswe Monare lost by 1102 votes to Lefoko Moagi’s 2275. A political Analyst at the University of Botswana, Leornard Sesa said in view of the objections by BDP members that the party should introspect and consider reviewing Bulela Ditswe and halting it altogether if need be. “They need to introspect. In 2013 there were also a lot of complaints. The number of independent candidates was high.”

According to Sesa, this shows that Bulela Ditswe problems are far from over.  

He stated that BDP members should not conduct these elections as there is unfairness and favouritism. “They should look for independent organizations or people to conduct the primary elections and not the party members who have proved to sway elections in favour of their friends and close associates at the expense of other contesters.”

This system of Bulela Ditswe, the political analyst said, leads to some disgruntled members often giving up when their appeal is not considered, ultimately leaving the party to join the opposition. “That is why the BDP popular vote has been dwindling; it sterms from the primary Elections,” he concluded.

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Sex on the Alter: Demons lurking within holy walls

29th September 2020
Sex-on-the-Alter--Demons-lurking-within-holy-walls-

From time immemorial the church was seen as a sacred haven for weary souls and those who need rest from worldly aches and pains. This is even written in the Holy Bible; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

This being said, anyone would be forgiven to think that the first place to run to would be the church. Time has however changed this.

The atrocities perpetrated by the church and their pastors or those who have been called upon to ‘lead the flock’ have not only distorted their mission, they have caused followers immeasurable pains.

Adorned in the finest regalia in church, the so called men of God are nothing but wolf in sheep’s clothing as they lurk in church corners to prey on the innocent and vulnerable in a place where victims thought was their ‘Father’s house’.

Behind every monster are those who clean up after it and in this case, these are church followers who are alive to the inhumane acts caused by the very men of God whom they have put on pedestals. These followers, more often than not are Elders in the church or those in the revered pastor’s inner circles. These followers would, in an attempt to shield their ‘man of God’, portray the victim as a Jezebel, and shield their pastor and the church’s reputation, forsaking the trauma inflicted upon the victim.

The author of ‘Sex on the Alter’, Kaelo McCoffee was inspired to pen down his book after seeing the endless and unreported incidents that occurred within church walls.

It’s like a play, a drama based on true stories of how “men of God” abuse women sexually, use them and dump them.  Not just that, but it addresses how desperate women are for marriage and relationships, resulting in pain. This is covering ill activities happening in the church,” said McCoffee.

“The purpose of this book is to open someone’s eyes, not just ladies, even guys, that church might be seen or recognised as a good place to be, that might be true yes, but people shouldn’t feel comfortable because they are in church. They should be aware of the dangers that can happen to them in church, like I talked about abuse. I wrote this book to bring awareness, mostly to women because they’re the ones always going through such mostly.”

If one is to look at the grabbling GBV cases within Botswana that occur on a daily basis, one would expect the church to intervene. Not this time around, seeing as how the church is marred with such cases.

“I’ve seen young girls being used because they fell in love with the guy in a nice suit, they get deceived by material things, they get lied to, “I’ll marry you” but after sleeping with them, they leave them, young girls end up reporting cases of rape, yet the truth is they were in love, but because the promises weren’t fulfilled there’s always drama. Some get paid to be silent. I won’t mention anyone by names, but this is what has been happening in many churches, hearts are being broken in the name of the “anointed one”. I’m not saying every man of God, I’m talking about things I know of and I’ve heard happening,” he said.

“And to God it’s an abomination to drag His name into sin and claiming to be righteous, if God has promised in His word that His servants will even face more punishment for diverting His people into wrong doings then they deserve to be punished, they’re humans and they are not even doing what they preach. If the men of God in the Bible got punished for such doings what more of these guys who mess with our sisters.”

In an Interview with WeekendPost, the founder of Epistle of Power International Church (EPIC), Duncan Katse confirmed with this publication that these devious acts are very much present within churches and orchestrated by the so called ‘pastors’.

“It is true and one thing that makes it true is that we have got a lot of pastors who are not really trained in the area of becoming a pastor and there was no discipline instilled. Young ladies also trust their pastors and spiritual mentors with their all; their lives, their bodies. So when these pastors notice that they are highly regarded they can do anything. If there is no alignment in the mentorship, it is easy for the pastor to manipulate the congregants with spiritual things.”

“Some would say ‘God wants us to have our moment alone’, they will start manufacturing funny prophecies to make the person comfortable to relax with them. Sometimes in private spaces, which becomes very dangerous for a young lady. Not all the ladies who go to church have the intension of sleeping with the man of God. Most women do not report these cases because some judge themselves and are afraid to be accused for falsely accusing the man of God,” said Katse.

How women are raped in church

According to close sources, these so called ‘men of God’, threaten young girls after sleeping with them and that they will be cursed should they decide to speak out. Some will be threatened with the infamous line; ‘touch not my anointed.’

“They use their spiritual and prophetic authority to manipulate these women into raping them. There is also an oil called ‘do as I say’ and most of the girls who became victims will tell you, after being raped, they did not know how the rape occurred. Once they apply that oil, whatever they say you are going to do it whether you like it or not.  That is why most of these girls are raped and left sick because most of these men of God are sick. They are sick of HIV/AIDS and STI’s. Before raping these women they prepare them emotionally by taking them out for dinners and they end up raping them.”

Botswana Council of Churches responds

Sexual violence and abuse has been an enormously painful and common feature of our collective past. No sector of society, churches included, has been immune to the problem of sexual violence. It is horrible. Whenever we have seen sexual violence, it has always been an offence to God, and a shattering of God’s good, redemptive hopes for the human story. Sexual abuse is clearly a shattering of God’s intentions for our humanity,” said Bishop Metlha Beleme from Botswana Council of Churches

“When God’s ways are honoured, there is love, because love – the Scriptures tell us – is the very nature and character of God. When you think about it, sexual violence does all the opposite of 1Corinthians 13:4-7, which talks about love. God wants us to experience love. So, apart from the laws of the land, the Church also has Canon law and the Church court for the trial of such offences as Sexual Immorality.”

Beleme further highlighted that; ‘‘there are other healing processes that follow e.g. forgiveness and reconciliation, counselling. Amongst other things we can confess that Church Leaders and Pastors are sinners too, and must be held accountable,” he said.

Maybe when all is said and done, the long arm of the law will forever elude churches as evidenced by the many cases internationally regarding the Catholic church and the cases of paedophilia and child molestation that have been ongoing for years on end. And very rarely in Botswana do pastors face criminal charges in court for sex offenses and that may also be because very few women come forth for fear of being ostracised by both church and society.

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Parliament caucus: The toxic destruction of MPs’ legislative duty

29th September 2020
Parliament

Every five years, a cohort of newly elected Members of Parliament (MPs) gather at parliament buildings to take a symbolic oath to assume new role as rarefied individuals who make Botswana’s laws — as prescribed in the constitution — for the good governance of Botswana. Staff Writer ALFRED MASOKOLA observes an abdication of responsibility that has become a new normal in the business of parliament. 

Few days before President Sir Ketumile Masire cleared his desk at Office of the President to end an eventful and successful 18 year presidency, his apparent heir, Festus Mogae was reaching out to opposition legislators in a bid to solicit for support for his choice for Vice President.

Since 1997 constitutional amendments, parliament has been mandated with the responsibility of endorsing the Vice President before assuming office.

Mogae was scheduled to ascend to the highest position in the land in wake of series of events in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) that made him the only viable candidate. Beleaguered by factions, Mogae could not count on his polarised party.

As many noted, Mogae was relatively a new entrant in the BDP politics. Though he was an accomplished technocrat, he was not a political power horse and was without the charisma that the likes of Daniel Kwelagobe, Ponatshego Kedikilwe and the late Lt General Merafhe had.

Luckily for Mogae, his choice for Vice President was a likeable figure — Lt Gen Ian Khama — and accepted across factional divide, and even more remarkably, by some in opposition ranks. The name was endorsed by all BDP MPs, and the cherry on top; by additional two opposition MPs.

The build-up to this accomplishment however highlighted one major thing that Mogae never took for granted — the legitimate power of MPs.

Even in his presidency, Mogae sought to use parliament caucus for the purpose of achieving consensus rather than imposing his own will. Throughout his presidency, Mogae had to navigate through the hostile factions that kept him on his toes.

In 2003, Mogae in what proved to be naïve, publicly endorsed his Vice President- Khama, in the party chairmanship race against Kedikilwe, the co-leader of what was then known as Kwelagobe/Kedikilwe faction, and later Barataphathi.

Inevitably, Khama won the chairmanship — a development that saw Barataphathi losing control of the Central Committee, for the first time since 1981. With victory in 2003, emerged a rebranded faction called A-Team, led by Merafhe and Jacob Nkate.

The faction will come to dominate both the Central Committee and cabinet after 2004 general elections. Mogae had left out Kwelagobe, Kedikilwe, and GUS Matlhabaphiri out of cabinet after 2004 general elections, inadvertently strengthening the backbench which closed ranks with opposition MPs to subject the executive to scrutiny.

At the height of exercising their power, the backbench blocked and rejected government policies and other pieces of legislation brought before parliament.

By 2006, cabinet found it difficult to pass bills, including the Judges Pension Bill and the crucial intelligence bill which created the DIS in 2007.

Faced with a rigid backbench, Mogae reshuffled his cabinet in 2007 restructuring ministries to accommodate members of rival faction in cabinet. Thereafter, the relationship between cabinet and backbench became cordial.

“I am fully aware that the MPs, both the former ministers, the cabal of some new MPs and the rest of the House, can make and unmake me politically,” Mogae famously said at 2001 BDP Congress in Palapye, as he deliberated on some of the demands brought forward by MPs.

Like anywhere else in democratic dispensations, MPs hold their own and are not pushovers, even in instances where the executive belongs to the same political party that controls the legislative house.

Mogae had accepted that MPs have their own responsibility and that their power was legitimate. Throughout his presidency, his modus operandi was to consult MPs through caucus whenever an important decision was to be made in parliament.

The approach was also the tradition during the presidency of Masire, the founding father of both the BDP and the nation. Masire considered therisanyo paramount prior to any decision making and was described by Mogae during his memorial as, “consultative, collaborative and patient.”

In 2008, things started to change. In recent years, BDP caucus has become increasingly powerful. Unlike in the past, instead of seeking consensus, MPs have been forced to support decisions of the cabinet, even when MPs are not in agreement.

“Caucus has always been there and it is part and parcel of parliament in democracy. Caucus can be flexible depending on leadership. Some issues are allowed conscience debate if caucus cannot reach consensus,” said a high ranking BDP member who served as MP under both Mogae and Khama.

“Mogae was liberal and allowed MPs to use their conscience when there was no consensus. Caucus only became a contentious issue during Khama [Ian] presidency and today.”

In 2011, weeks after civil servants called off strikes that lasted nearly three months, and crippled the economy, then junior minister in the ministry of Local Government, Kentse Rammidi resigned from the cabinet amid a position taken by the party.

In trying to deal with power of civil servants, cabinet brought before parliament a Bill that sought to prevent a number of cadres in the civil service including teachers from participating in industrial action by making them essential service.

Rammidi, who had sympathised with workers during the strike chose to quit the party after BDP caucus forced MPs to support the bill which was to be brought to parliament by then Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele.

The development set had ushered in a new era in the governance of BDP, with the Executive effectively rendering Parliament — which by all intent and purpose is meant to prove checks on it — a rubber stamp.

The BDP caucus effectively derives its mandate from President as the head of executive.

The latest victim of the domineering caucus is Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Reggie Reatile.

Two months ago, the maverick MP was slapped with suspension for abstaining instead of voting alongside agreed party caucus positions.

In the build-up to his suspension, Reatile had on numerous occasions voted against the BDP on the Parliament floor. Reatile also abstained when voting was called on the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) Amendment Bill meant to create the position of Judge Advocate General.

Reatile was also the BDP black sheep that voted against Speaker of Parliament, Phandu Skelemani’s decision to suspend Leader of Opposition (LOO) Dumelang Saleshando, from parliament last month.

Prior to Reatile, maverick Ignatius Moswaane, Francistown West legislator, was also suspended. Moswaane has also proved to be a thorn in the flesh of the ruling party as he consistently refused to toe the party line, instead following his conscience.

Moswaane has since resigned from the BDP in favour of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

The insistence on block voting have seen parliament being ultra-polarised, and inadvertently at the expense of the public and good governance.

Despite the country grappled with rising incidence of Gender Based Violence (GBV), the ruling MPs rejected a motion tabled by Mahalapye East MP, Yandani Boko, following a caucus decision.

Boko had tabled a motion on urgency calling for parliament to request President Mokgweetsi Masisi to set-up a Commission of Inquiry on Gender Based Violence (GBV) and other Sexual Offences.

During the BDP caucus, it was agreed that the motion should not be agreed upon, but instead be countered with a suggestion that the duty be referred to an Inter-Ministerial Committee.

Commissions of Inquiry Act empowers the President to set-up a commission and to set its terms of reference.

The motion was however withdrawn by the mover following lack of support from BDP majority.

The rejection of the motion is part of many that have not survived the might of BDP caucus.

In the run-up to 2019 general election, Masisi promised to repeal the infamous Media Practitioners Act passed during his predecessor’s administration. The promise was buttressed in the BDP 2019 election manifesto.

However, when Selibe Phikwe West lawmaker, Dithapelo Keorapetse, brought before parliament the same bill, the ruling party caucus tore it apart. In brief; it was rejected.

The constitution of Botswana, adopted in 1966 following independence, vests legislative powers in parliament. Parliament, through its committees is empowered to provide oversight.

Parliament, indirectly elects the President and also has power to dissolve parliament through a pass of motion of no confidence on government supported by simple majority.

Parliament also approves national spending and also entitled to amend certain provisions of the constitution, save for entrenched provisions.

In giving parliament the legislative duties, the constitution also gives the President the power to ascent to bills passed by parliament or return them to parliament if not satisfied. Nevertheless, if parliament insists on not making any amendments, the President is compelled to ascent to the Bill failing which parliament will lead to the dissolution of parliament, necessitating new elections.

With so much power at its disposal why is parliament abdicating its true responsibility?

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Gov’t urged to stimulate economies until 2021

29th September 2020
Gov’t-urged-to-stimulate-economies-until-2021-Women-are-amongst-the-most-vulnerable-and-hard-hit-groups,-including-migrants,-young-people-and-informal-workers

The latest edition of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Monitor shows the continuing and devastating impacts of the pandemic on jobs and labour income since early 2020, and the massive disruptions in the labour market that will persist into the fourth quarter of this year.

ILO analysts argue that policymakers will need to maintain support to employment and incomes over the coming months and well into 2021, and to address key challenges.

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