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.
Botswana health officials have confirmed the new COVOD-19 variant, which was first found in India. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has through a press statement informed members of the public that a new COVID-19 variant (B.1.617), first discovered in India. The Indian variant was confirmed in Botswana on 13 May 2021.
According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.
“As at 16 May 2021, the B. 1. 617 variant was confirmed in two (2) people. The clients are currently receiving medical care and remain stable with no life-threatening symptoms. The two (2) cases were part of 383 people (both Batswana and some Indian nationals) who were tested for COVID-19. From this number, 43 tested positive, with two (2) showing the B. 1. 617 variant as already alluded to. Contact tracing has been expanded in line with COVID-19 protocols. All contacts and confirmed cases have been evacuated to facility based quarantine and isolation respectively, for close monitoring,” Nyanga narrated.
The World Health Organization recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.
Meanwhile in the wake of Botswana’s confirmation of the Indian variant, Nyanga reminded the public of the government intervention to control the introduction of new variants of public health concern into the country. He stated that all those who have travelled or transited through areas of high risk as previously communicated on 3rd May 2021 upon return shall immediately quarantine in a central area to be identified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness for a period not exceeding ten (10) days; Repeat Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after seven (7) days of quarantine and be discharged as per the outcome of the results.
He said the requirements are complementary to the mandatory requirements of producing on arrival a negative PCR test not older than 72hrs from the time the sample was collected
“The public is advised to remain vigilant and minimize the spread of COVID-19 by following the already outlined preventative measures such as washing of hands with soap or use of a hand sanitizer, wearing of face masks, avoiding crowded places/social distancing and avoiding non-essential movement,” Nyanga said.
The India variant – officially called B.1.617.2 – is one of four mutated versions of coronavirus which have been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.
The lawyers representing former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, Ramalepa Attorneys have come forth dismissing a response letter penned down by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activist MacDonald Peloetletse after he was slapped with a P1.5 million lawsuit for defamation of their client.
Tebogo Tladi, an attorney at Ramalepa, said last week Thursday Peloetletse took to social media to publish a substantively false, wrongful and unlawful statement about Khama. MacDonald Peloetletse’s commentary which was posted on Gabz FM News page reads, “I am a former soldier. Everything former President SKI Khama said here is a LIE. In fact, soldiers suffered more under Khama than under his predecessors.
He actually stole money that the UN had paid to the soldiers who went for the operations and paid them less than a quarter of what was actually due to them. “Unhappy soldiers took the BDF to court and won, the BDF is still struggling to pay the debts! Khama can fool some people, but not all the people and not all the time.
“In fact many soldiers, serving, retired and those that resigned and were in the operations during Khama’s time get even more annoyed to such disrespectful statements by Ian Khama.” Khama’s lawyer says the impugned statement was published with the intention to injure his client (Khama) in his personality rights, good name and dignity, further indicating that the statement has damaged his good reputation.
“We have therefore been instructed by Client to demand, as we hereby do, that you publish on the same forum a retraction and a full and unconditional apology to Client within three days of receipt of this letter- and that you deliver such apology in a formal letter to the Office of the Former President, Dr Khama. In the event that you have not compiled with this demand by close of business on Monday 10th May 2021, our Client will assume that you have refused to comply with this demand.”
To top it all off, Khama demands that Peloetletse pay him P1.5 million in damages for defamation. “Furthermore, we hold instructions to demand as we hereby do, that you pay our Client damages for defamation in the sum of P1, 500,000.00 within seven days of receipt of this letter.” In the event that Peloetletse fails to pay the amount of damages demanded by Khama, Tladi says they will institute legal proceedings for the recovery of the aforesaid damages.
In his response letter addressed to Ramalepa Attorneys, Peloetletse said that he requests enlightenment and clarification that he be provided with proof that the allegations and comments which they attribute to him were indeed authored by him and that the platform which the comments were placed was not hacked.
“Please also advise if whether your clients has been endowed with a “special particular privilege status” that restricts the citizens of this country from commenting or responding to public statements made by your client in the course of political discourse especially when made on public forum and relate to matters of general public concern. (I trust that your brilliant legal mind is well informed with respect to the jurisprudence in such matters)”.
Peloetletse also said he would like to share with the attorneys a video which was posted on a public forum. “Please listen carefully to the conversations and discussion herein and advice if possibly such discussions form a reasonable basis for a justifiably rebuttal by any Motswana Citizen to the public pronouncements and defamatory statements made by your client about our government (bearing in mind of course a citizens constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression).’’
Consulted for further comment on the matter on Thursday after receiving Peloetletse’s response, Khama’s attorney Tebogo Tladi said the letter doesn’t hold any water. “The only way out for him is to prove the truth of the allegations on his comment or deny publication. He does not answer substantively to the defamation and does not respond to the demand of an apology or payment of damages.
So his letter really contains largely matters irrelevant to the substance of the letter of demand. His response in fact presents no legally cognizable defence at all- it would appear he responded without the benefit of legal advice, which would not be prudent for such an important case. So we will proceed to issue summons and wait to see what defences he will plead in court.’’
Botswana and Zambia this week celebrated the opening of a multi-million Dollar infrastructural project, the Kazungula Bridge, projected to contribute around P100 million annually for Botswana. This project comes after the signing of the 2012 Agreement between the two countries to construct a bridge that would ease movement of goods.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the Kazungula Bridge will open avenues for improved trade, job creation and economic diversification in both countries. Further, the Bridge will significantly accelerate Southern African Development Committee (SADC) regional integration agenda which Botswana and Zambia are vigorously pursuing.
“By growing our strategic partnerships through this project, we have improved the development and competitiveness of our economies to attract more private sector investment, thereby, supporting our efforts to create employment, especially for the burgeoning youth,” Masisi said at the opening ceremony in Kazungula on Monday.
The Kazungula Bridge comprises a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River, directly linking Botswana and Zambia. It has One-Stop-Border Post facilities on both sides, which will enhance the operational efficiency at entry points, replicated on both sides of the boarder.
The Bridge was originally conceived as a critical link in the African North-South Corridor under the African Union’s New Partnership (NEPAD) for Africa’s Development programme. It has since evolved to encompass a multimodal transport plan under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).
The PIDA programme, which encompasses liberalisation of air travel, rail links, road, water and all other modes of transport has only one objective: to unite the States of Africa in order to foster trade on the continent
“Connectivity of our nations will in no small measure, promote people to people interactions and uplifts their standard of living. I am pleased to state that the completion of this project is a clear demonstration of our commitment to PIDA.”
The 260 million US Dollar Kazungula Bridge was commissioned by Zambian President, Edgar Lungu and President Masisi. President Lungu said the bridge was a monumental effort linking Zambia internally and externally to ease the movement of goods and services.
“I have held talks with my counterpart in Botswana that this project must run daily up to 22 hours as soon as possible and you the technocrats must not play ping-pong with us after making these public procurements,” Lungu said at the official opening in Kazungula.
For his part, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said the project was tandem with the Africa Union (AU) goals and priority areas for Agenda 2063 which called for a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
The new Kazungula Bridge replaces the Kazungula Ferry, a pontoon ferry across the 400-metre-wide Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia. It was one of the largest ferries in South-Central Africa, having a capacity of 70 tonnes.
In 2003 the ferry was the site of a disaster when a severely overloaded Zambian truck capsized one of the pontoons and 18 people drowned. The accident was blamed on the lack of weighbridges in Zambia to check the weight of trucks.
In August 2007, the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to construct a bridge at the site to replace the ferry. The existence of a short boundary of about 150 meters between Zambia and Botswana was apparently agreed to during various meetings involving Heads of State and officials from all four States in the 2006-2010 period.
The route for this new bridge crosses the boundary without entering Zimbabwe and Namibia. Zimbabwe already has a bridge into Zambia at Victoria Falls, 70KM from Kazungula. Namibia on the other hand has a bridge into Zambia at Katima Mulilo about 150KM upriver.