Botswana Congress Party (BCP) plans to plead with Government for at least three months extension of free accommodation for former BCL employees still occupying mine houses. This follows the BCL liquidators’ announcement that ex-employees still occupying BCL houses will start paying rent in November as the 12 month lease agreement they entered into with the liquidator elapses in October.
The Office of the Member of Parliament for Selebi Phikwe East and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) councillors in the constituency called a meeting on Tuesday to inform the affected former mine employees of the party’s intention to engage government over the new accommodation arrangements recently announced by BCL Liquidator, Nigel Dixon-Warren.
They argue that Government can intervene and engage with the Liquidator for an extension of free-rent accommodation up to January 2018. Councillor for Thakadiawa, Evelyn Kgodungwe says the extension is necessary to allow those with children attending school to make necessary arrangements other than vacating the house in October when the children are still attending school. She posits that while the Liquidator’s role is protect the interests of the creditors, the Government must however be seen to also protect the affected former employees.
The BCP argues that it is unreasonable for Government to pay school fees to some of the affected children who attends private schools to up to December only for them to be kicked out of the houses before December when the schools are still open. They contend that parents of the affected children are in Selebi Phikwe for the sake of their children who are still in school, and without jobs, they will not afford rent which will eventually lead to their removal from the house and it turn affecting the children’s education. All BCL employees who were terminated at the date of the liquidation were entitled to remain in BCL houses in accordance with a 12 months free rent lease agreement signed by all who wished to remain in the houses. As the lease agreement expires end of October, Dixon-Warren has come up with a new arrangements. The Liquidator says former employees have the first option to remain in the houses after 31st October 2017 but will required to sign a new three months lease with effect from 1st November 2017.
They may remain in the house for three months from November but will be required to pay a nominal rental fee as to recover money for the creditors. The Nominal rental is only for the period of three months from November 2017 to January 2018. The nominal rental will be dependent on the type of house one occupies. Those who wish to vacate the house earlier than January 2018 can do so by giving the necessary notice. Those who wish to remain the house after January 2018 will be required to pay a commercial rental fee and the rental will be payable I advance and on monthly basis subsequent to the signing of a two year lease agreement.
There are other conditions. Dixon-Warren says all former employees will be compelled to occupy the house personally, explaining that all tenants not occupying the houses on a full-time basis will be given notice to vacate the house. Occupants of the house will also “not be permitted to sub-let the house nor will they be permitted to use the house to store their belongings but not live in the house.” Occupants of the house will have water meters registered in their names as they will be expected to pay their own utilities.
The arrangement is not only for former BCL employees. All unoccupied house after the former employees have signed their leases will be rented to third parties. This move, the liquidator says it was motivated by the demand of the BCL houses from interested prospective tenants and the need to need any possible opportunity to recover money for the creditors. Those vacating the houses are required to formally hand back the house key to BCL Housing Department in order to be paid their retention.
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.
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.
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.