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Guma Moyo: BDP’s new power behind the throne

During his golden days, Daniel Kwelagobe used to be the man making political careers inside the BDP. His influence was so strong that he, through the network of supporters in the party structures, would literally decide who made it to the party Central Committee every two years. Today, the throne is held by the Tati East legislator Samsom Guma Moyo.  Since 2009, every candidate he backed for party elections has wonWRITES ALFRED MASOKOLA.

Last weekend at the Tonota Congress, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his lieutenants effortlessly walked in to the BDP’s highest governing structure, thanks to the mobilisation skills of none other than the Tati East legislator, Guma.

For almost a decade now, Guma’s political life has always been defined by twists and intrigues. He happens to be part of the famous group of dissidents who went on to found the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) at the height of factional infightings in the BDP. Guma was the victim of President Ian Khama’s purging following the infamous 2009 BDP Kanye Congress.

“He is a strategist. Very effective and leads from the front. When he believes in a cause he goes all the way,” hinted one of his former allies. In the build-up to the Kanye Congress, Guma found himself fighting President Ian Khama. He belonged to the then Barataphathi faction which was rooting for Daniel Kwelagobe and Gomolemo Motswaledi as Chairman and Secretary General respectively. Meanwhile, President Khama had gone all the way to persuade democrats to elect only women in the central committee.  It was Guma and his team who strolled to victory, winning all the position but one. Guma was elected additional member.

Before that, his relationship with Khama was complicated by the latter’s decision to drop him from cabinet as Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning  following allegations of corruption, a decision that Khama would later publicly admit he regrets.

Following the 5 year banishment of Motswaledi from the BDP, Guma met with fellow Barataphathi factionalist to decide to form a break away party.  BMD quickly became the fastest growing political party, but soon, Guma got disgruntled. BMD did not offer what he had wanted. Like many, he retraced his steps to BDP and was welcome in to the party in 2012 at the party’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

A year later, Guma, in an expected outcome, won the BDP chairmanship against party veteran, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi Maun Congress in 2013. Many expected Vensoi-Moitoi to win, largely because Guma’s association with BMD would hurt his chances. Against all the odds, Guma proved his mantle, as his team which included fellow business associates Mpho Balopi and Thapelo Olopeng.

Guma’s chairmanship reign however was short-lived as he was forced to resign a few months into the position following the controversial 2013 party primary elections. It was reported that Guma and his team had tried to circumvent the succession plan by influencing the outcome of the primary elections. To date, the details of what happened between Khama and Guma, which led to the latter’s resignation remain a closely guarded secret.

In 2015, Guma reportedly cajoled Mokgweetsi Masisi to run for the chairmanship at Mmadinare Congress. Since his arrival in the party, Masisi had no interest in participating in central committee elections. Although he was Presidential Affairs and Public Administration minister, he was then considered a light weight and had no influence on party structures.  This perception changed when Masisi was appointed Vice President, and suddenly inherited influence.

With Guma on his side, Masisi decided to take a shot at the party chairmanship. The position has been generally associated with the Vice Presidency since the days of Peter Mmusi. Masisi won, though with an unconvincing margin.

This year, ahead of the Tonota Congress, Guma and his team ran a well-oiled campaign; from financial resources to deploying troops on the ground to harness support in party structures. Even for Nonofho Molefhi who enjoyed an amazing level of good will from democrats at the party National Council in April, there was a shift by the time congress drew nearer, with Masisi clearly headed for a landslide victory.

To retain the chairmanship Masisi garnered 769 votes compared to Molefhi’s 261 votes, and all his lieutenants ceremoniously walked into the central committee. Mpho Balopi defeated incumbent Botsalo Ntuane for the secretary general position; Satar Dada extended his 22 year stay in the BDP central committee, defeating Tebelelo Seretse for the Treasurer position, while Jagdish Shah and Shaw Kgathi also defended their positions.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021

President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.

While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.

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