Charismatic Leader of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Advocate Duma Gideon Boko has explained the second coming of embattled Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President, Sidney Pilane as simply a matter of law taking its cause.
Pilane was elected to steer the ship of the BMD over the past weekend in a special congress sanctioned by the UDC mother body. The congress followed disputed elections at a controversial Bobonong congress which gave birth to two groups, with one later bolting out to form the Alliance for Progressives (AP).
Speaking to Weekend Post in an exclusive interview outside the national assembly building this week, the UDC leader highlighted that the coming back of Pilane into the UDC fold, by virtue of being the BMD leader, and as Vice president of the Umbrella is a mere compliance of operation of the law.
As enshrined in the party constitution, there is a provision for two VP’s which are in the form of the BMD’s contentious leader and charming Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president, Dumelang Saleshando. Boko said: “there are certain things that flow from the operation of the law” which is termed ‘ex lege’ in Latin meaning ‘by operation of law’ and that the accepting the BMD and its leader in the UDC is but an example.
“As UDC, following the disputed congress, we ordered the BMD to ‘go and conduct a proper congress and elect a leadership’ so by operation of law if such leadership has been elected, the UDC is ready to work with that leadership,” Boko said in his signature pose while stressing law jargons.
To buttress his position he added that: “it is not sentimental. It’s not a function of love nor hatred nor emotions but rather ‘ex lege’ (by operation of law). So the BMD having complied with all the injunctions and instructions of UDC and having satisfied all the entire requirements laid down, now they can see to transact duties and stake in the Umbrella (UDC) and so they are welcome.”
Boko further defended the UDC VP Pilane saying they will not pre-judge him based on what others say in relation to his alleged association with the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General Isaac Kgosi whom he has legally represented although in his personal capacity. Although the matter pitted him against his former rivals in the BMD, Pilane has insisted that he will continue representing anyone who requires legal representation regardless of their line of work or political affiliation.
On continuing public debate on whether Pilane is credible and has integrity coupled with talks that he is not politically appealing, Boko questioned what that much talked about credibility was based on. He warned that “we are not going to pre-judge any person in the bases of biases and predilection of others. We are not going to hear about a person from that person’s lucid political rivals.”
The UDC leader also highlighted that he has not heard any electorate who has told him anything negative about, in this case Pilane, but he has listened to voters who have something negative to say about him (Boko) because they happen to be members of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), and it is their business to critique and criticize them. These are normal and these are the stuff that we will live by as politicians, Boko pointed out.
“So it’s not going to be based on this occasion two or three people expressing misgivings about an individual (Pilane) and all of a sudden the whole world is decided against that particular individual even if it’s not correct.” According to Boko, despite Pilane matter, there are a lot of people who appreciate the UDC and the efforts that it has engaged, and who respect the integrity of a leadership that is not sentimental; not emotional; and a leadership that is very calm and measured and principled in its resolution of whatever is presented before it.
When he was asked whether he is referring to AP, he said, “no, am not saying anybody is emotional but rather that integrity is about dispassionately assessing situations and facts and coming to a reasonable conclusion and determination on those facts.” Integrity, he added that should not be driven by whether a leader hates this one or like that one. He continued: “I may like you very much but still rule against you if you are wrong or if I think you are wrong. It’s not a function of love. I don’t have anybody in mind am just stating a general principle.”
When some say Pilane will dismantle UDC as he presumably did unto BMD, Boko said he is looking forward to that and perhaps more engaging – robustly because it helps the movement go forward. Boko, who is also Botswana National Front (BNF) leader, also said it does not matter whether Pilane was part of a stream that drafted the constitution amid talks that he may have crafted it in some point to favour him.
“On reports that Pilane crafted the constitution to favour him somehow, you know let me tell you, you people don’t understand the constitution.” He said there is something called constitutionalism which exists outside the document of the constitution and which gives life to this document.
“I am a constitutional lawyer by training. So when you talk constitution you are talking to me, you are talking the stuff that I do and that I have read at Harvard School of Law at the United States and at Lund University at Sweden. So I live the constitution, I breath the constitution. I am a constitutional expert. So I don’t get fazed whenever I hear people talk about the constitution no matter who drafted it. In this case Rre Pilane. I take it and apply it and it will do what it had to do.”
The Gaborone Bonnington North lawmaker also said he hears people saying that Pilane will somehow take away something somehow (UDC presidency they say), but they should rather also ask themselves from who is he taking away this (presidency) from. He warned: “even if it may be correct that you have that kind of track record (at BMD) you must know now you dealing with different people altogether (at UDC).”
Boko further cautioned: “so when people tell me, this one is going to cause trouble (Pilane), you know I am a trouble solver and a problem solver. So if there is going to be any problem, I am happy. I am home where there are problems. I will solve the problem even if they present themselves in the shape of a human being I solve problems.”
However Pilane has stated thus far that the BNF, as was agreed from the beginning, will continue under the BNF and that he has no interest in challenging Boko, at least for now. Pilane is expected to join Boko and Saleshando in their campaign rallies across the country soon as the party prepares for a stiff competition from BDP and newly formed AP in 2019 General Elections.
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.
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.
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.”