President Lt Gen Ian Khama and his Liberian counterpart, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf are in contention for the Mo Ibrahim Award, Africa’s top leadership award, as the two leaders prepare to retire from office at the end of their constitutional terms.
Sirleaf, Africa's first elected female head of state and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate will leave office this month in what is officially Liberia's first democratic transfer of power since 1944. She will be replaced by iconic former footballer, George Weah, who won last month’s presidential election run-off. Meanwhile President Khama will retire from office at the end March this year, handing over the baton to Mokgweetsi Masisi, who will become Botswana’s fifth president since independence in 1966.
The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership recognises and celebrates African executive leaders who, under challenging circumstances, have developed their countries and strengthened democracy and human rights for the shared benefit of their people, paving the way for sustainable and equitable prosperity
The award also highlights exceptional role models for the continent; ensures that the African continent continues to benefit from the experience and wisdom of exceptional leaders once they have left national office, by enabling them to continue in other public roles on the continent.
The award, which is the initiative of The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, an African foundation, established in 2006 with one focus: the critical importance of governance and leadership for Africa. The foundation was established by Sudanese-British billionaire Mohammed Ibrahim. The award is recognised as a sign and standard for excellence in leadership in Africa. The award is eligible to former African executive heads of state or government who left office in the last three years; democratically elected; served his/her constitutionally mandated term and demonstrated exceptional leadership.
Both Khama and Sirleaf meet the requirements as prescribed by the foundation. Khama will ride on Botswana’s reputation for good governance and democracy, despite being recent concerns that the country’s standing have been regressing as previously noted by former President Festus Mogae.
Khama has been ranked as the best president on a number of occasions by various organisations including African Leadership Index. Khama would become the third Botswana presidents to peacefully hand power to a successor, the first was the late Sir Ketumile Masire, the architect of the new constitution which provided for 10 year presidential limit. The second is Dr Festus Mogae, who was succeeded by President Khama in 2008.
Though Khama has been criticised for snubbing United Nations and African Union (AU) summit, his moral authority in leadership remains high. He has consistently voiced out against other leaders who did not want to leave power in Africa. In 2016, when officially opening the 18TH Annual General Conference of Electoral Conference Forum- Southern African Development Committee (ECF-SADC) condemned leaders who refuse to leave power by trying to manipulate an entire elections process which results in countries being plunged into conflict.
“It is common that election related conflicts in many parts of Africa including SADC are self-inflicted,” he said. This he said, is more often than not “the result of attempts to manipulate constitutions to extend otherwise expired terms of office or alterations to electoral calendars and at worst influence elections outcomes and also not conforming to our own guidelines for conduct of elections.”
At his inauguration as chairperson of SADC in 2015, Khama spoke against the violence in Burundi which were instigated by the country’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza, who was seeking a third term albeit unconstitutionally. In 2008, Botswana boycotted South African Development Committee (SADC) summit, owing to the fact that ‘illegitimate’ Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe was invited to be part of the summit. Botswana had publicly announced that it did not recognise Mugabe as the legitimate president of Zimbabwe following his victory in an election that was widely condemned as a sham.
Prior to his removal from power at the fall of 2017, Khama was one of the leading figures who urged Mugabe to leave the presidency in a dignified manner. Khama would later change his stance and embraced Mugabe after a compromise deal allowed both Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai to form government of national unity.
SIRLEAF LEGACY IN LIBERIA AND AFRICA
Africa has reputation of being a conflict riddled continent which has been labelled as the top reason for hindering progress economically and politically. Sirleaf leaves a huge legacy behind in her country of Liberia. Not only has she achieved a lot by becoming the first African female president, she also managed to bring peace and stability to a country which had been marred by war and violence for decades. Cherry on top is her decision to leave power at the end of her term. Liberia however is still engulfed by other problems common to other African states such as corruption and unemployment. Sirleaf has gained admiration both in Africa and abroad for her leadership.
Since being launched in 2006, the Ibrahim Prize has been awarded four times. The previous Laureates are President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014), President Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011), President Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008), and President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007). Nelson Mandela was the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007. The award carries US$5 million over ten years and US$ 200,000 per year for life thereafter.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.