Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President Ndaba Gaolathe has held talks with fellow Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leaders, Duma Boko of Botswana National Front (BNF) and Motlatsi Molapisi of Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) following the violent elective congress last weekend in Bobonong.
The congress saw the party holding two parallel congresses, with factions, one led by Ndaba Gaolathe and the other by former party spokesperson Sidney Pilane, claiming legitimacy. This publication has been informed by reliable sources close to Gaolathe camp that following the congress, Gaolathe met with Boko and Molapisi to map a way forward. Boko is the President of the UDC while Molapisi is the party chairman.
Although the details of what was discussed at the meeting remain sketchy, Weekend Post has established that the Gaolathe camp has informed the UDC leadership in Boko and Molapisi that in the interest of progress, the UDC should intervene and provide leadership. Boko has been reluctant to intervene in BMD infightings due to “legal and constitutional” constraints on his part. There was hope that last weekend’s congress will resolve the BMD impasse which has been dragging on for the past two years. However the congress descended into violence and several people were injured in the process.
According to impeccable sources, Gaolathe camp has suggested that the UDC leadership help resolve the impasse. The faction is also amiable to a congress re-run supervised by the UDC or an independent body. Dr Phenyo Butale, who is the secretary general of the Gaolathe-led BMD confirmed to this publication that they have submitted a report to the UDC leadership detailing the outcomes of the congress and also made a proposal to the mother party. “Although we believe we have done everything according to the constitution, we have proposed that they preside over a congress re-run, right from the branches to the national congress,” he said.
Butale mention this as a way of ensuring that peace is restored to the party but through a credible elections process. The secretary general of BMD led by Pilane, Gilbert Mangole has told this publication that on their side they are still studying the available options with regard to bring peace in the interest of opposition unity. “I can however confirm that we have written a letter addressed to UDC President [Duma Boko] informing them about the newly elected BMD National Executive Committee (NEC),” he said.
Mangole also revealed that their camp have not yet met with UDC leadership since Bobonong Congress because he the congress has just ended, therefore too soon to for such expectation. Boko and Molapisi will be tasked with presiding over a delicate situation, because there is no guarantee that the Pilane camp will buy the proposal brought forward by the Gaolathe-led camp.
Gaolathe is said to have grip on party structures with all regions and 47 constituencies having pledged support for him. Gaolathe also enjoys support of the Women’s League as well as the Youth League. The mood in the opposition ranks is becoming tense every moment, with members turning against each other. The suggestion is that others have been sent to undermine opposition unity and efforts of bring to an end to BDP’s over 50 years rule.
Boko’s views on the BMD saga
Speaking at the BNF conference in Kang during the President’s holidays, this were Boko’s words in view of conflicts or differences within contracting partners of the UDC: “The Constitution of the UDC is also very clear on the autonomy of its constituent members. It emphasizes that these constituent members are governed by their own constitutions. It does not impose any strictures on the powers each constituent party enjoys under its Constitution and does not vest in the President any powers of regulating the affairs of each constituent party.
This Constitution further makes the President the political head of the organization. Read in its totality, it is clear that the Constitution does not give the President any powers to act either unilaterally or to assume jurisdiction over matters falling within the scope of the Constitution of a particular Constituent party. In the same manner as indicated earlier, any Constituent party that takes the view that its internal challenges merit the intervention of the UDC may move to request such intervention. Absent any such request, the UDC would be overstepping its legal powers to do so.
In the current situation regarding the BMD there has not been any request for intervention directed at either the UDC or any of the other Constituent member parties. It must also be stated that consistently with the UDC Constitution, the leaders of the UDC have maintained that the BMD situation was to be resolved by the BMD members themselves.
Any calls for the President of the BNF and UDC to impose a solution on the BMD are misplaced and ill advised. I must point out that certain of our members have taken entrenched positions in regard to the BMD problems. They have aligned themselves with certain individuals and interests within BMD. This is most unfortunate, especially where such individuals, compromised as they are by the fact of their openly identifying themselves with certain individuals, then become the ones clamoring that the BNF President, in his capacity as UDC President, ignore the Constitution of the UDC and address internal matters of the BMD.
To the extent that I, as President of the BNF and the UDC have not nailed my colors to any particular mast regarding BMD internal matters, I remain available, ready and competent, should I be called upon, to broker a settlement of the BMD issues. It remains for the BMD if it is so minded, to make that call. I would be able, in good conscience, to assist because I am not compromised and tarnished by any premature statements of loyalty or affection. I remain objective and dispassionate.
It must also be recalled that the UDC was brokered by the Trade Union movement. They were able to mediate and pursue each party and bring them to the negotiating table although they could not impose their own views. They were fortunate to deal with each party without the torsion of warring interests or groupings. To mediate in a situation where a single organization is facing divisions in its leadership is an extremely delicate exercise that must be approached with caution lest we worsen the situation.”
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.