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.
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.