The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has decided to mount a legal challenge against the government on a number of contentious issues. Prominent among the issues is the introduction of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and the planned Air Botswana Privatization.
Speaking at the party national conference in Francistown, party leader, Dumelang Saleshando the introduction of EVMs and the other changes made to the electoral laws must be challenged. He observed that it is important to protect the integrity of the country’s electoral process. “Members of the public through Kgotla meetings have told the IEC that they reject the EVM in its entirety but it is clear that the IEC in alliance with the executive has decided that public opinion does not matter and the EVM will be forced down our throats. It should also be noted that the IEC has not subjected the procurement process of the EVM to a competitive bidding process as is the norm. This adds to our suspicion that there is more than meets the eye with the EVM project,” he said.
Air Botswana privatization
The BCP president noted that there are other issues of national interest that the party has been contemplating taking to the courts including the Air Botswana privatization. He said for many years Air Botswana has been flouted as a candidate for privatization. “In 2007, following recommendations to cabinet by the then Presidential Business and Economic Advisory Council, government hastily engaged in a process to sell Air Botswana to Air Link of South Africa. A Parliamentary motion to halt the process was not adequate to halt the process. It was only when the BCP issued notice to sue that government retreated.” He noted that more recently, President Lt Gen Ian Khama issued a directive for Air Botswana to be sold to Wilderness Safari, a company in which he has financial interest. In essence, the President was to become both the seller and the buyer of Air Botswana.
Sale of Morupule B power plant
Saleshando said billions of pula have been invested into the construction of the Morupule Power plant. He indicated that there have been reports suggesting that this plant may be sold. When national resources are disposed in a secretive manner, this can only be aimed at concealing corruption. “We have been closely following developments around Morupule B and will take government to court should we establish that government intends to proceed with the sale,” said Saleshando. â€¨ Self- Inflicted Harm medical policy
The BCP President also laid a charge against the Ministry of Health and Wellness which recently circulated a savingram on “Removal of Medical Cover for Self-Inflicted Harm”. He said the instruction to medical personnel was for them to discriminate patients on the basis of their lifestyle. Saleshando said his party will be challenging the formulation of this policy as it offends both the constitution as well as the ethical conduct of medical personnel.
Construction at Mosu
“In 2014, we lodged a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the alleged use of public resources in the construction of a private home for the President. The Ombudsman chose to ignore the issue until her retirement. We have held meetings with the recently appointed Ombudsman who has promised to investigate and report back to us. There is need to consider legal options as the findings of the Ombudsman are not considered binding,” observed Saleshando.
He said it is important for the BCP to pursue these cases to safeguard the public goods against wanton looting. Saleshando noted that the amendment of the retired presidents’ pension law was a firm confirmation that the appetite by the BDP leadership to grab what they can get from State coffers is unlimited. He is of the view that this will only get worse as we approach elections and the realization that their days in government are numbered.
â€¨However Saleshando shared the challenges that will come as a result of going to court route to deal with these issues: “Court cases are expensive though imperative at times. The party is in the process of exploring opportunities for collaboration with organizations that share our concern about the issues we want to pursue through the courts. We will also be appealing to the business community as well as the larger public to contribute financially for the court cases.
To this end, we have opened an account with Rahim Khan Attorneys for public contributions and pledge to fully account to the public for the funds they will hopefully contribute. Special thanks to the team of attorneys who have been handling all the legal issues on behalf of the party at no charge for their services. We do however need to raise funds and cushion them against excessive costs for their law firms.”
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.