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Gaborone North water power struggle reach CoA

Some Executive members of Moshawa Community Development in Gaborone North have this week filed to appeal the April High Court verdict which ruled that they be interdicted and restrained from performing their respective roles.

The appellants are former Botswana television (BTV) Executive producer and commissioning Editor, Linet Habana together with Siphiwe Mathendele and Khotso Lebatha. Habana was the Trust’s Secretary while Siphiwe was its Treasurer. Moshawa Community Development Committee is the respondent.

The prior High Court judgement by Justice Michael Leburu ordered the duo’s removal from the Executive committee which is responsible for overseeing the Gaborone North based Moshawa Community Development Trust water standpipe.

It is understood that at the centre of the dispute is the ownership and management of a water standpipe that provides portable water to the Gaborone North and Moshawa community.

The case has aligned public figures in opposing camps including law maker for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaigwa, former cabinet minister Tebelelo Seretse, ex-Botswana Police Service spokesperson Christopher Mbulawa, Village Chief Magistrate Linah Mokibe-Oahile and other Attorneys living in the area.

Seretse and Mokibe (trustee) are with appellants while Nkaigwa and Mbulawa are with the respondent (Trust).    

Gaborone North currently bank on the standpipe for water supply. So far, the Trust has accrued over P1.5 million through use of the standpipe as there are domestic water connection or reticulation deficiencies in the area.

Speaking on behalf of Minister of Minerals, Water and Energy resources Kitso Mokaila, Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi, told parliament in November last year that there were currently no plans from the ministry to assist the residents of Gaborone North other than what the government had already done which was providing primary infrastructure.

He said benefits by the residents of Gaborone North can only take place if the developers design and construct tertiary reticulation to utilize the existing infrastructure.

WeekendPost has established that the millions raised through the standpipe created problems for the Gaborone North residents as it fuelled ‘divisions’ in the Moshawa Community Development Trust Executive Committee which was established to represent the Gaborone North dwellers.

This publication has further gathered that emanating from the overarching issues, is the operation of the account, where the proceeds derived from the sale of portable water from the said standpipe are kept.

It is understood that, owing to the warring factions in the Trust Executive Committee, residents sometimes had to go for a sometime without water.  

According to the appellants’ grounds of appeal filed recently, the High Court erred and misdirected itself in failing to consider all the evidence placed in the affidavits before coming up with the judgement.

Habana, Mathendele and Lebatha state that the court also erred in coming to the conclusion that the respondents were the owners of the standpipe and the Barclays bank account number 1049942(30) in issue.

In his verdict, Leburu had ruled that the trio be barred from acting as bank signatories to the said account held at Barclays bank under account number 1049942(30) in the name of GNorth/Moshawa Community Development Committee.

“Consequently the 4th respondents (Barclays) shall effect the decision to stop the 1st (Habana) and 2nd respondent (Mathendele) from transacting in the account referred to,” he ruled.

According to the appellants, the court a quo also erred and misdirected itself in failing to hold that the respondent has no locus standi in judicio owing to the lack of validly elected trustees, and also owing to the failure of the holding of a proper annual general meeting as envisaged by the Trust deed.

They further argue that the court made a blunder in holding that the flaws in the locus standi of respondents could only be challenged on review proceedings, and could not be raised in defense to an application they had brought before the above court.

“Court a quo erred and misdirected itself in failing to find that the standpipe and the money generated therefrom were for the Moshawa community, and it was for the Moshawa community and not Gaborone North as a whole which had the right to determine whether or not a Trust was to be formed to deal with the standpipe and funds generated from it,” the appellants maintained.

Habana and company in Leburu judgement, was also interdicted from instructing or causing persons who purchase water from the standpipe run by the applicant then to pay through the account.

The appellants insist that:“the court a quo also erred and misdirected itself in holding that the respondents was entitled to the management of the standpipe and the funds generated therefrom notwithstanding the fact that the respondents is composed of persons who are not entitled to make such a decision on behalf of the Moshawa community.”

In the matter which will be heard soon, the appellants are represented by Akheel Jinabhai & Associates while the respondents are represented by Ndadi Law firm.

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

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.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

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.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

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.”

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