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Balopi recalls Komas words as UDC crumbles

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Mpho Balopi has dismissed opposition parties as unfit to rule following the factional battles and squabbles that have marred the coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in recent years.

Balopi said the scheming and plotting that have characterized opposition ranks in the battle for power indicate the opposition does not pass the test to be handed power in 2019. “If they fight with stones when there are not in power what more of when they are in power. Are they not going to kill each other with guns?” Balopi said at a press briefing this week. Balopi’s words echoed the famous words of the late former Botswana National Front (BNF) leader Dr Kenneth Koma.

The tension in the BNF ahead of 1999 general elections led to the party splitting at the infamous Palapye Congress, at which several people were injured as chairs and tables were flying in a battle for control of the party. Dr Koma, who then suspended the Congress to avert the violence, was quoted as saying: “Thakaa! Fa re itaana ka ditilo le ditafole re ise re tsene mo pusong  jaana, ga se gore ka moso ra go tsoga re bolaana ka dithobolo re le mo pusong?”Loosely translated; “If we are fighting each other with chairs and tables whilst in opposition, wouldn’t this mean we would be killing each other with guns when in power?”

Like the UDC, BNF in 1994 had performed beyond expectations. It was anticipated that in the 1999 general elections, the burgeoning BNF will rise to the occasion and dislodge BDP from power. The BNF needed to win only eight more seats in the next general elections to win power.  In that period, the party began attracting political heavy weights from the ruling BDP. But soon, conflicts emerged from the party; which grew to crisis level, and leading to a split.

It appears, the UDC could not evade the same misfortune that befell BNF. Following the historic 2014 general elections, in which the opposition won for the first time, a combined 20 seats and lost 13 others as a result of vote splitting—UDC was seen as the government in waiting. This belief was reinforced by continuous outclassing of the rival BDP in the post-2014 bye-elections; as well as the arrival of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) into the alliance.

What started as a mere fight over the membership of Sidney Pilane at Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) ballooned into a full battle of allies within the UDC leading to the departure of Ndaba Gaolathe and his supporters to form the Alliance for Progressives (AP). That was after the UDC delivered a verdict which recommended a power sharing arrangement between the warring BMD factions. Prior to the split, the BMD Bobonong Congress had resulted in bloodshed which left several activists injured. The congress also produced two National Executive Committees (NECs) after parallel congresses were held.     

The arrival of the AP in the political scene will see opposition parties splitting votes in BDP’s favour in the 2019 general elections. The UDC is also faced with the possibility of losing endorsement from Botswana Federation of Public Servants Unions (BOFEPUSU), one of its integral partners in the 2014 general elections. This publication has it on good authority that there is a debate within the union on whether the federation should continue supporting the UDC or re-consider their stand.

BOFEPUSU strongman, Johnson Motshwarakgole was instrumental in the formation of the AP, while Secretary General Tobokani Rari has in the past noted that support for the UDC was not permanent but conditional. Not only did Balopi discredit the opposition parties but also credited the BDP with ability to solve its internal disputes without violence. “Remember we are a governing party, we have the Police; SSG (Special Support Group) and the army at our disposal, but not at any point have we used them to fight our wars,” he said.

“We know how to solve our internal disputes amicably. This is what the BDP is good at and has been doing that all along. We know the security forces for protecting our country and citizens from external enemies.” Balopi said, against all odds BDP has returned from the Tonota Congress very strong and united. He said BDP will take advantage of this unity to consolidate itself.

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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup

29th May 2023

With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.

Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.

The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.

Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.

“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.

Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.

Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.

For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.

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Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS

26th May 2023

The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.

When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.

Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.

She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.

During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.

Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017

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Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting

23rd May 2023

The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.

According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd,  the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.

However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.

“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.

While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.

“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.

The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.




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