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BDP moves to dodge Bulela Ditswe in some areas

With pressure from opposition parties increasing at every election, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has eight (8) candidates unopposed out of the 18 opposition held constituencies’ primary elections. The party is gearing up for the 2019 General Elections.

It is the first time the party sees such an unprecedented number of Members of Parliament (MP’s) candidates going unopposed. The next general elections are promising to be hotly contested with BDP likely to face fierce competition never experienced since independence.
The BDP popular vote has been dwindling in the past election years with the party getting 46.5% in the 2014 General Elections, while in 2009 they attained 51.73% and prior to that in 2004 they got 57.17%.

To counter the opposition in the next polls, BDP has suspended primary elections in some opposition held constituencies where compromises were reached to avoid disgruntled losers from Bulela Ditswe dividing its vote. Some of the signature compromises; BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi will represent the party against opposition parties at Gaborone North where MP Haskins Nkaigwa is sitting in for UDC.

On the other hand Anna Mokgethi has also been chosen to stand in for domkrag at Gaborone Bonnington North. UDC’s President Duma Boko is currently the substantive representative of the area. In Gaborone Central, the ruling party has selected Tumisang Hill to lock horns with the opposition in the make of AP’s Phenyo Butale while at Kanye South the party has fielded Lemogang Kwape to try to wrestle the area from UDC’s Abram Kesupile. Up north, Reaboka Mbulalwa will also stand in for domkrag at Maun West, the area currently occupied by an independent MP Tawana Moremi.

Dithapelo Keorapetse, at Selibe Phikwe West also awaits Allen Lekwapa who will be the torch bearer for the ruling party in the area. In addition, Thulaganyo Segokgo is also the compromise candidate for the BDP in the looming national elections in Tlokweng. He is likely to face area lawmaker Masego Segokgo. Meanwhile it is not clear yet as to whether the UDC will replace constituencies that were previously occupied by the departed legislators that formed Alliance for Progressives (AP).

By compromises, has BDP increased its fortunes in 2019?

Asked to shed light on the BDP compromise matter, University of Botswana (UB) lecturer and renowned Political Analyst, Daniel Molaodi pointed out this week that, with the compromises, if genuine, the BDP may have positioned itself well for a good chance in the next elections.
“So, yes I believe, by these compromises, BDP indeed has positioned itself well especially if by so doing have solved the uncertainties that often come as a result of its party primary election dubbed Bulelwa Ditswe,” Molaodi told Weekend Post.

According to Molaodi, if the compromise process was smooth and voluntary; it then puts the BDP on a better position to contest effectively at the impending 2019 General Elections. “They may even get those areas currently in the hands of opposition parties. This however will apply only if there is no hidden agenda in the compromise decision,” the academic pointed out.  

What prompted the compromises?

He believes the compromises are in fact a response to Bulela Ditswe as it has always had problems that normally followed the internal election where some candidates were often not agreeing with the emerged winner and final candidate. This, he added that often led to resentment and divisions in the party based on drawn lines of who stood elections which mostly ended up with a culmination of independent candidates badly affecting the party fortunes. Other disgruntled party members he said would then also join opposition parties as a sign of dissatisfaction.

The UB lecturer also continued: “some choose to sit back and disengage and sometimes to the extent of even not voting, and that obviously impacts the BDP fortunes. So, this has led to BDP losing constituencies to opposition.” “So, I think more BDP constituencies are unopposed as they are doing this as a healing process to position themselves. Whether or not it will be effective is another issue for discussion. It also hinges on how the compromise was conducted. Were those who compromised genuine about it or were forced?” he asked rhetorically.  

Does then opposition stand a chance in 2019?

With regard to the opposition, the independent thinker stated that they won some constituencies in the last 2014 General Elections precisely due to a strong bond, unity and cooperation amongst themselves (opposition parties). But since, opposition is now showing signs of disunity, at least up to this point; Molaodi highlighted that the next elections may be a different case. Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) he cited that it is not united as of now due to the breakaway of Alliance for Progressives (AP).

According to the Political Analyst, although not yet tested, it appears like AP has more numbers than BMD since their departure and if this is accurate it will definitely hurt the UDC at the next polls. But all in all, Molaodi contended that the current debacle in opposition may affect them. “AP looks set to go separate ways with UDC in the coming elections, and this will be a huge loss to opposition. The opposition as a whole might even lose the constituencies they currently hold. They will be a vote split especially if indeed the AP numbers are higher.”

On the flipside he also stated that “it can only be an advantage to opposition only if AP gets more numbers from BDP and not from UDC per se. It may help both UDC and AP and consequently weaken BDP.” He also pointed out that the numbers lost from BMD to AP can also be supplemented by Botswana Congress Party (BCP)’s entrance and therefore there is chance that still UDC can do well “although it remains to be seen.”

Are these BDP compromises undemocratic?

In addition, the UB academic said there are also some within the BDP that believe these compromises are not a good idea as they are in a way undemocratic thereby purging other people against standing despite being their democratic right to do so. “It also denies electorates to elect their preferred candidates at the polls, starting at the primary elections. It also depend on who the compromise candidate is in the eyes of the electorates in terms of whether they believe someone better have been left out behind and this may be detrimental to the candidate and the party.”

Molaodi also wondered as to what extent was the general membership involved in terms of whether there was a thorough consultation with the BDP members with regard to the compromises. “Was there not even a single dissent from the party structures and what has been done about it?” the UB scholar said.

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BONELA speaks on same-sex decriminalization case

18th October 2021
BONELA

In June 2019, a case involving the Attorney General was brought before the High Court, in which the applicant Letsweletse Motshidiemang challenged Sections 164 (a) and 167 of the Penal Code. The applicant contended that these sections are unconstitutional because they violate the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy. 

The applicant argued that these sections violated his right and freedom to liberty as he was subject to abject ignominy. These laws subjected the LGBTIQ community to brutal and debasing treatment through social control and public morality. On the 1st of November 2017, the Botswana High Court further allowed Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) to join the case as amicus curiae.

However, in July 2019, the respondents, in this case, i.e. the Government, filed an appeal against this iconic High Court ruling seeking re-criminalization of homosexuality. Human Rights Group has criticized this move of the Government all over the world.  The appeal was heard before five judges at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday. The State was represented by Advocate Sidney Pilane, while LEGABIBO and Letsweletse Motshidiemang were represented by Tshiamo Rantao and Gosego Rockfall Lekgowe, respectively.

Non-Governmental Organizations advocating for the LGBTIQ+ community joined the two parties at the Court of Appeal during this case. They argue that the minority group should enjoy their rights, especially the right to privacy and health. Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) Chief Executive Officer, Cindy Kelemi says the issues being raised by LEGABIBO are that as individuals belonging to the LGBTIQ community, they have and must share equal rights, including the right to privacy, which also speaks to being able to involve in sexual activities, including anal sex.

“Those rights are framed within the constitution, and therefore a violation of any of those rights allow them to approach the courts and seek for redress. We do not need the law to be regulating what we do in the privacy of our homes. The law cannot determine how and when we can have sex and with who, so the law does not have any business in that context. What we are saying is that the law is violating the right to privacy,” she said on the sidelines of the decriminalization case in Gaborone on Tuesday.

The first case involving the homosexual act was the Utjiwa Kanane vs the State in 2003. Contrary to section 164(c) of the Penal Code, Kanane was charged with committing an unnatural offence and engaging in indecent practices between males, contrary to section 167. The conduct at issue involved Graham Norrie, a British tourist, and occurred in December 1994. (Norrie pleaded guilty, paid a fine, and left the country.)

Kanane pleaded not guilty, alleging that sections 164(c) and 167 both violated the constitution. The High Court ruled that these sections of the Penal Code did not violate the constitution. Kanane then appealed to the Court of Appeal. BONELA CEO recalls that in its judgment then, the High Court indicated, Batswana were not ready for homosexual acts. Twenty years later, the same courts are saying that Batswana are ready, she says.

“They gave the explicit example that shows that indeed Batswana are ready. There are policies and documents in place that accommodate people from marginalized communities and minority populations. The question now is that why is it hard now to recognize the full rights of an individual who is of the LGBTI community?” She further says intimacy is only an expression. The law that restricts homosexuality makes it hard for LGBTIQ members to express themselves in a way that affirms who they are.

“We want a situation where the law facilitates for the LGBTIQ community to be free and express themselves. The stigma that they face in communities is way too punitive. They are called names; some have been physically violated and raped at times. It shows that the law doesn’t not only prevent them from expressing themselves, it also exposes them to violence.” The law on its own, Kelemi submits, cannot change the status quo, adding that there is a need for more awareness and education on human rights and what it means for an individual to have rights.

“As it is now, it is very tough for some to do that because of a legal environment that is not enabling. We also want to see a situation where LGBTIQ+ people can access services and be confident that they are provided with non-discriminatory services. It is challenging now because health care providers, social workers and law enforcement officers believe that it is illegal to be homosexual. What we are saying is that if you have an enabling law, then that will facilitate for people to be able to express themselves, including accessing health services,” Kelemi said.

“As we are doing this advocacy work, one of the issues that we picked up is that there is lack of capacity, especially on the part of healthcare workers. We noted that when we provide services or mobilize Men who have sex with other men (MSM) to access health facilities, health care workers are not welcoming, forcing them to hideaway. We must put an end to this to allow these people the freedom that they equally deserve.”

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Masisi warns Gov’t officials

18th October 2021
President Masisi

The President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, has declared as an act of corruption the attitude and practice by government officials and contractors to deliver projects outside time and budget, adding that such a practice should end as it eats away from the public coffers.

For a very long time, management problems and vast cost overruns have been the order of the day in Botswana, resulting in public frustrations. Speaking at the commissioning of the Masama/Mmamashia 100 Kilometres project this week, Masisi said: “There is a tendency in government to leave projects to drag outside their allocated completion time and budget. I want to stress that this will not be tolerated. It is an act of corruption, and I will be engaging offices on this issue,” Masisi said.

In an interview with this publication over the issue, the Director-General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Tymon Katholo, says, “any project that goes beyond its scope and budget raises red flags.” He continued that: “Corruption on these issues can be administrative and criminal. It may be because government officials have been negligent or been paid to be negligent by ignoring certain obligations or procedures. “This, as you may be aware has serious implications on not only of the economy but even the citizens who use these facilities or projects,” Katlholo said, adding that his agency is equally concerned.

According to the DCEC director, the selection, planning and delivery of infrastructure or projects is critical. In most cases, this is where the corruption would have occurred, leading to a troubled project. A public finance expert at the University of Botswana (UB), Emmanuel Botlhale, attributes poor project implementation to declining public accountability, lack of commitment to reforming the public sector, a decline in the commitment by state authorities and lack of a culture of professional project management.

In his research paper titled, ‘Enhancing public project implementation in Botswana during the NDP 11 period,’ Botlhale stated that successful implementation is critical in development planning. If there is poor project implementation, economic development will be stalled.
Corruption is particularly relevant for large and uncommon projects where the public sector acts as a client, and experts say Megaprojects are very likely to be affected by corruption. Corruption worsens both cost and time performance and the benefits expected from such projects.

Speaking during this week’s Masama/Mmamashia pipeline commissioning, Khato Civils chairman said Africans deserve a chance because they are capable, further adding that the Africans do not have to think that only Whites and Chinese people can do mega projects.  During his rule, former president Ian Khama went public to attack Chinese contractors for costing the government a move that ended up fuelling tensions between China and Botswana after Khama dispatched the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, to China to register Botswana’s complaints with Chinese government-owned construction companies.  Botswana had approached the Chinese government for help in its marathon battle with Chinese companies contracted to build, among others, the failed controversial Morupule B power plant and refurbishment of Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSIK).

 

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Guma’s battle for millions of Pula give Court headache

18th October 2021
Guma Moyo

A legal battle between former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislator Samson Moyo Guma and First National Bank (FNB) over a multimillion oil refinery project intensified this week with Justice Zein Kebonang referring the matter to Court of Appeal for determination.  The project belongs to Moyo Guma’s company called United Refineries which he has since placed under judicial management.

The war of words between Moyo Guma and FNB escalated after the company’s property worth millions of Pula were put up for sale in execution by the bank and scheduled to take place on 8th October. It emerges from Court papers that the bank had secured an order from the High Court to place the company’s property under the hammer.

Moyo Guma then also approached the High Court seeking among others that the public auction scheduled for 8th October 2021 be stayed. He contended that the assets that were to be sold belonged in reality to United Refineries and that as the company had been under judicial management at the time of the attachment, the intended sale in execution was unlawful.

He also sought the Court to declare that the writs of execution against the properties of guarantors and sureties of United Refineries Botswana Holdings Propriety Limited (the company) are unlawful.  Moyo Guma also sought a stay of the execution against the property known as Plot 43556 in Francistown, that is, the land buildings, plant and machinery which make up the property and any all immovable or movable property belonging to the guarantors and sureties of the company pending finalization of the winding up of United Refineries.

But FNB disputed Moyo Guma’s assertions and submitted that the properties in question belonged to TEC (Pty) Ltd and not United Refiners. TEC Pty Ltd which is one of the shareholders in United Refineries is one of the sureties and co-principal debtors of a debt amounting to P24 million owed by United Refineries to FNB.  FNB argued in papers that the properties belonged to TEC because it was TEC which had passed a covering mortgage bond in its favour over the property it now sought to execute.

Moyo Guma submitted that the covering mortgage bond passed in favour of FNB did not tell the full story as the property in question was in truth and fact owned by United Refineries and not TEC Pty Ltd. He maintained that the shares had been had been passed by the company in exchange for the properties in question and that the parties had always been guided by the spirt of the share agreement in dealing with each other despite delays in the change or transfer of ownership of plots 43556 and plot 43557 in Francistown.

Kebonang said it was clear to him that the two plots (43556 and 435570 belonged to United Refineries notwithstanding that TEC (Pty) Ltd had passed a mortgage bond over them in favour of FNB.  “For this reason the properties were immune from attachment or sale in execution so long as the judicial management order was in place,” he said.

The background of the case is that Moyo Guma together with five other investors, namely Elffel Flats (Pty) Ltd; Mmoloki Tibe; TEC (Pty) Ltd; Profidensico (Pty) Ltd and Tiedze Bob Chapi, each bound themselves as sureties and co-principal debtors in respect of a debt owed by a company called United Refineries Botswana Holdings (Proprietary) Limited (the Company), to First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) (1st Respondent).

FNB had extended banking facilities to the company in the amount of P24 million which was then secured through the suretyship of Moyo Guma and other shareholders.  Court records show that Moyo had on the 11th February obtained a temporary order for the appointment of a provisional judicial manager in respect of United Refineries and it was confirmed by the High Court on 24th September 2019.

In terms of the final court order by the High Court issued by Justice Tshepho Motswagole all judicial proceedings against the company, execution of all writs, summons and process were stayed and could only proceed with leave of Court. Court documents also show that First National Bank had sued the company and the sureties for the recovery of the debt owed to it and through a consent order, the bank withdrew its lawsuit against the company.

But FNB later instituted fresh proceedings against Moyo Guma and did not cite the company in its proceedings.  “There is no explanation in the record as to why the Applicant was now reflected as the 1st Defendant and why the company had suddenly been removed as the 1st Defendant. There was no application either for amendment or substitution by the bank,” said Justice Kebonang.

FNB had also argued that it sought to proceed to execute against Moyo Guma and other sureties on the basis of the suretyship they signed and that by signing the suretyship agreement, Moyo and other sureties had renounced all defence available to them and could therefore be sued without first proceedings against the principal debtor (United Refineries).  The question, Kebonang said, was that can FNB proceed to execute against Moyo Guma and other sureties on the basis of the suretyship contracts they signed?

“The starting point is that the Applicant (Moyo Guma) and others by binding themselves as sureties became liable for debts of the principal debtor and such liability is joint and several. He said the consequences of placing the company under judicial management means that every benefit extended to it should also extend to sureties.

“If the company is afforded more time to pay or its debt is discharged, reduced or compromised or suspended the obligation of sureties is to be likewise treated. It follows in my view that where judicial proceedings are suspended or stayed against the company, then any recourse against the sureties is similarly stayed or suspended,’ said Kebonang.

He added that “In the circumstances of this case, it seems to me that so long as the company is under judicial management, the moratorium that applies to it must also apply to its sureties/guarantors and no execution of the writs should be permitted against them. Any execution would be invalid.”

“Mindful that there is judicial precedent on this point in Botswana, at least none that I am aware of, and given its significance, I consider it prudent that the Court of Appeal must provide a determinative answer to the question whether a creditor can proceed against sureties where a company is under judicial management,” said Kebonang.

Pending the determination of the Court of Appeal, he issued the following order; the execution of writs issued in favour of FNB against Moyo and other sureties/guarantors of United Refinery are hereby stayed pending the determination of the legal question referred to the Court of Appeal.

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