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Nkate joins Molefhi Camp

Just two months after being side-lined by Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s faction, former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Jacob Nkate has joined forces with Nonofo Molefhi in a bid to win control of the party after the Tonota July Congress.

The deal between Nkate and Molefhi was reached this week following weeks of negotiation with the former Botswana Ambassador to Japan. This publication has established that on Wednesday night, the faction held a meeting in Mogoditshane where the final lobby list was announced.

The Molefhi faction had initially pinned their hopes on former Barataphathi stalwart and incumbent Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane, but the latter has since denounced participation in a lobby list ahead of the party congress. Ntuane belongs to neither the Molefhi nor Masisi camp, a strategy he used at the Mmadinare Congress in 2015.

Ntuane had earlier tried to convince Molefhi to back down from pursuing the chairmanship position and instead contest as secretary general. Ntuane’s compromise talk was rejected by both Molefhi and Masisi faction. Following Ntuane’s detachment from the Molefhi faction, the latter convinced Nkate to join their side.

Nkate had initially joined the secretary general position race on the side of Masisi, but the two fell out after Nkate declared his 2019 presidential ambitions. Nkate was persuaded to drop out of this year’s chairmanship and instead support Masisi. This was followed by a suspicion that Masisi and Nkate had reached an agreement that would see Nkate becoming Vice President in 2019. Nkate however denied that there was ever a deal between him and Vice President Masisi.

“The idea that I have a deal with Masisi and that he will make me vice president is not true. No deal like that exists,”he told this publication earlier this year.  He had further added that: “Upon arriving in the country from Japan, I thought let me hear what the situation is on the ground and my conclusion was that maybe I should support him so that I do not cause too much disruptions in my party. And then we can take it from there. If between now and 2019, me and Masisi do not agree, my cards are on the table. All the options are on the table.”

Nkate’s words did not please Masisi, who soon after agreeing with his team, dumped the former Ngami legislator from their faction. Satar Dada, an influential member of BDP and Masisi faction had tried to intervene and reconcile the two but his efforts did not materialise. The Masisi faction has since opted for Mpho Balopi, who will contest as secretary general. Balopi has previously served as party secretary general from 2011-2015.

Nkate is believed to be bringing a new dimension to the Molefhi faction who will see it profiteering from his support in the North West region. Nkate, an unapologetic factionalist had earlier told this publication that one way or another BDP need to reforms in order to reconnect with the citizens. The Molefhi camp is generally believed to be reformist while the Masisi camp is believed to be yearning to keep the status quo.

“I think the BDP needs to reconnect with the people; to have a message that resonates with the people. I do not think people are hearing us, we need to re-message and recalibrate. We need to understand what the biggest concern of the people is. We need to hear the people and people should hear us,” he told this publication earlier this year.

In other battles, former Botswana Ambassador to United States (US) Tebelelo Seretse will battle long time party Treasurer Satar Dada for the position. Dada has been BDP party Treasurer for the past 22 years, something which has seen his name being associated with the BDP treasury.

Seretse contested the chairmanship two years ago in Mmadinare and lost to the current chairman, Masisi. The outspoken former cabinet minister remains of the key figures pulling the strings in the Molefhi camp as the faction mobilises for support.
Meanwhile Biggie Butale, the youthful Tati West legislator will lock horns with Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi for the position of Deputy Secretary General. Kgathi is the incumbent Deputy Secretary General, having ascended to the position in 2015, defeating former Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) Chairperson Metlha Mokwena with a slim margin.

Mokgweetsi Masisi Lobby list
Chairman: Mokgweetsi Masisi
Secretary General: Mpho Balopi
Deputy Secretary General: Shaw Kgathi
Treasurer: Satar Dada
Deputy Treasurer: Jagdish Shah
Additional Members
Slumber Tsogwane
Guma Moyo
Ronald Shamukuni
Ponatshego Suping
Ngaka Ngaka

Molefi lobby list
Chairman: Nonofho Molefhi
Secretary General: Jacob Nkate
Deputy Secretary General: Biggie Butale
Treasurer: Tebelelo Seretse
Deputy Treasurer: Molebatsi Molebatsi
Additional Members
Philip Makgalemele
Ignatius Moswaane
Talita Monnakgotla
Moemedi Dijeng

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

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.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020

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.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

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.”

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