Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) officials mediating at the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) impasse have rubbished the talks alluding to a formation of a new party by Ndaba Gaolathe group.
A high level source who sits at the talks deliberating on the BMD mediation confirmed to Weekend Post that Ndaba group “did not mention or present the new party proposal at the meeting” but was only emphasizing on “the need to go for a re-run of the party congress” subsequent to the disputed one. “So as UDC we should not act on the basis of threats of forming a new party by some people entitled to their opinions – it could be just threats – and we can’t plan on the basis of speculation,” he insisted when queried on the new talked-about party said to be named Botswana Peoples Movement (BPM).
Speculation was rife this week that the party will be registered at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) but the UDC dismissed the allegations. According to the immaculate source, the talks of the formation of party if they are anything to go by it would mean that the Ndaba group request for UDC mediation was not done in good faith from the beginning. The mother body has acceded to meet the besieged party two groups separately and so far has met with Ndaba’s and waiting to meet with the other one headed by Advocate Sidney Pilane on the 4th September 2017.
The new date set follows their request to postpone the planned meeting of the 24 August which failed as the leader Pilane was said to be outside the country. In light of the two warring factions who now could not see eye to eye particularly following the Bobonong disputed congress, the mother body has since written to both camps to mediate in which they welcomed the move. Just this week, Ndaba led group which were around 30 member delegation, met with the UDC top brass to deliberate on their submission in the impasse – which threatens the life of the new opposition entrant and by large and extension the new opposition coalition.
The coalition is to be tested in its debut in 2019 General Elections as one entity comprising the beleaguered BMD, Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP). According to the high level member of UDC sitting at the talks deliberating on the mediation, they see postponement of the meeting by Pilane faction as reasonable because the ring leader was outside the country on the said date allotted for the meeting.
“So we felt it was reasonable to postpone as we wanted all group members to be present when they undertake submissions at the mediation particularly the leaders. We don’t want to meet with a portion of the committee. We don’t want to have a deliberation and they go narrate somewhere else,” the leading partner in the talks told Weekend Post. The Pilane faction, he said sent a letter to the UDC top brass suggesting some options of dates to consider for meeting them when they will be present all of them to make submissions.
In return the UDC wrote back to them indicating that “we settle for the 4th September 2017,” the member pointed out who also said they felt that between now and the 4th is a reasonable time to accede to their request. The top politician said however by acceding to their request doesn’t demonstrate that they are biased in anyway. He justified by pointing out that: “you remember the same Pilane group requested for recusal of BNF Vice President Prince Dibeela but since they failed to provide valid reasons we also did not assent to their request.”
According to the UDC member, he also said they felt the suggestion by Ndaba group to have resolved the matter by August 31st was also not reasonable. He added that the BMD, to their admittance has been grappling with the standoff for more than two years now, and wondered how they are expected to resolve the issue instantly as if they are magicians. “Anyway we told them to exercise patience on the matter as we move swiftly to address the matter cautiously,” he said.
Information has also surfaced that Boko may have tried to intervene before the Bobonong congress but the legitimate party leader then may have felt that the situation is under control. It is said he was adamant and believed that the congress will resolve the matter. The UDC source said they want to reach a compromise where both sides may climb down from their earlier positions. Indications however suggest that both parties have reached an irreconcilable stage. They have proved that they no longer can work with each other as they don’t share common values and vision.
When speaking on behalf of the UDC, party official mouthpiece Moeti Mohwasa said they cannot speak to the media on the matter unless their communication has reached the intended recipients (Pilane faction). BMD is embroiled in bickering two factions both whom claim legitimacy to National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party. However Weekend Post has it on good authority that the letter confirming the 4th September for Pilane group meeting has reached the Pilane group and now they only await for the leader to return to the country.
The UDC spokesperson also dismissed reports of a new party looming while stressed that they “are still ceased with reconciling the two groups to find a common goals and we are focused on that.” The Botswana Movement for Democracy-BMD National Executive Committee led by President Ndaba Gaolathe appeared before the UDC NEC on the 22nd of August 2017. The objective of the meeting was to present oral and written submissions of our case in order to help the committee find a solution to the Bobonong BMD impasse.
Former High Court Judge Professor Key Dingake has made his opinion known about gay rights in a glowing tribute to his retired former colleague Justice Ian Kirby.
Late last month a panel of Court of Appeal (CoA) led by Judge Kirby upheld a 2019 High Court ruling that decriminalised same-sex relations and stroke down two sections in the penal code. In his seminal judgment, Justice Kirby said these sections served only to incentivize law enforcement agents to become keyhole peepers and intruders into the private space of citizens.
In this case one Letsweletse Motshidiemang, a homosexual had instituted an application in the High Court challenging the constitutionality of Sections 164 (a) and 164 (c).
Paying tribute to Justice Kirby, Justice Dingake said overall the Kirby court was restrained and brilliant in its genre of conservatism. Judge Dingake said the case of Motshidiemang is evidence of the latter. “In a stroke of a pen, he ended the long and tortuous road to equality of gay people.
I was reminded of this long and tortuous road by a piece written by, Zackie Achmat, that indefatigable human right defender, recently, when he reflected on a union of gay men, one Khoi and the other a Dutch sailor, way back in 1735, who for their love for each other were brutally murdered,” Justice Dingake said.
He said in truth Botswana’s Constitution never denied the right to equality for gay men. It was society and the judges who did – some arguing that the time is not right to extend equality rights to gay persons – forgetting the self-evident truth that we are all born equal and that rights are not negotiable – not even with Judges.
“It ought to be remembered that the Motshidiemang case was similar to the case of Kanani that preceded it. Justice Kirby was part of the panel that sat in Kanani. In Kanani he agreed with the other Justices and refused to strike down the offensive legislation. The same legislation he struck down in Motshidiemang.
There is no doubt in my mind that Kanani was wrongly decided at the time, as several of my writings thereafter contended, having regard to the legal injunction to always interpret constitutional rights liberally and to treat the constitution as a living organism,” Justice Dingake wrote.
He added that in Kanani the Court of Appeal held back “our march to freedom for more than a decade – and perpetuated the suffering of gay persons as their being was criminalized based on an inaccurate and narrow reading of the Constitution”.
The truth of the matter is that, he said, our Constitution never denied gay persons the rights to equality and the right not to be discriminated against. “Some sections of society (may be the majority) and the bench did so. The bench did so because of the choices they exercised.
They chose to interpret the constitution restrictively, which is not permissible; they chose to be blown away by ‘public opinion’, which was not right, and they chose not read: ‘sexual orientation’, into section 15 of the constitution, which they could have done.”
Botswana’s Constitution he said commands that it be interpreted in a manner that saves humanity from the scourge of indignity – and with a sense of the future – and to secure the rights of generations yet to be born. It is always the duty of Judges to breathe life into the Constitution – and to effect the promise of the Constitution – by among other things rejecting the tyranny of the majority.
“Section 3, the principal section conferring fundamental human rights in Botswana has always been there. It was ignored in Kanani, and thankfully given effect to in Motshidiemang. A big lesson here is the often overlooked fact: Judges matter! Who the Judge is may be life changing in any given matter.
When one considers the decision in Kanani and Motshidiemang, based on similar facts and the diametrically opposed conclusions, one may be given to think that may be: ‘the constitution is what the Judges say it is’, at any given time, as that brilliant luminary judge and scholar, Charles Evans Hughes (1862 -1948) LLD, once ruminated.”
Interestingly, Judge Dingake wrote about homosexuality more than 12 years ago in his book ‘Key Aspects of the Constitutional Law of Botswana’. Justice Dingake expressed his views on what was said then to what was said in the recent judgment.
In that book, he began the debate by stating that homosexual issues are not frequently debate in Botswana. “Empirically, the extent of homosexual tendencies is not known. In any event the phenomenon does not appear to be widespread,” the Judge wrote.
He said serious debate however cropped up sometime around August 1995, after president Robert Mugabe’s much publicized anti homosexuals speech at the Harare International Book Show. Even then, he said, the debate was only confined to a small circle of intellectuals, with the broader community generally contemptuous and not willing to engage in serious debate about the issue.
“Although the intellectual community is by no means unanimous, there are some voices, particularly emanating from the University of Botswana, that are calling for equal treatment for homosexuals. Despite the enormous capacity of such arguments to court controversy general response of the public was one of cynicism. This general lack of interest among the general populace contrasts sharply with the enthusiasm and interest on the issue, just across the border, in South Africa, where there are numerous homosexual associations,” he said.
He explained that the South African Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which has paved the way for homosexuals to be employed in the army, an advance that is unparalleled in modern democracies. He also explained that Botswana’s criminal law prohibits consenting adults of the same sex from having a sexual relationship, because that is said to be unnatural.
“Within the framework of Botswana’s Constitution there can be no doubt that the prohibition of sexual relationships between consenting male adults of the same sex is unconstitutional. No free society can, in this era, afford to treat its citizens differently on the basis that is patently irrational.
Every individual, is in terms of the Constitution equal before law and has the right of equal benefit of the law without discrimination. The legal recognition of homosexuals will confirm Botswana as a democratic country that is advancing with time.”
He added that it needs to be said that it is however fruitless to bury “our heads in the sand and hope the issue will disappear for good”. He concluded: “In time we will have to confront the issue head on. In time blind prejudice that stigmatizes homosexual relationships will have to stand up to rational scrutiny. It is advisable not too turn a blind eye to the pain of discrimination suffered by few of our fellow countrymen and women. In a democracy it is unacceptable that the majority should oppress the minority”.
Consumers could pay more for electricity this year, as the government owned power producer, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) plans to increase prices for electricity by 5% with effect from the 1st of April 2022.
BPC recent statement on tariff adjustment shows that with the planned 5% increase in electricity tariffs, electricity prices per kWh could increase by 111 thebe for household users, 226 thebe for government, 148 thebe for commercial businesses and 111 thebe for the mining sector.
Botswana economy is registering growth as the country emerges from one of its worsts economic recessions since independence, following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
In late December 2021 Statistics Botswana released the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures for the third quarter of 2021.
The nominal GDP for the third quarter of 2021 was P49, 260.5 million compared to P48, 684.0 million registered during the previous quarter. This represents a quarterly increase of 1.2 percent in nominal terms between the two periods.