In an interesting development, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s attempts to stage early primary elections in opposition held constituencies is facing hurdles as prospective candidates are said to be not forthcoming in their numbers to contest Bulela Ditswe.
There are currently 19 constituencies which are in the hands of the opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP). BDP has taken a decision to commence party Primary Elections earlier in the constituencies to double efforts for the campaigns, whilst there is still time. The ruling party wants to wrestle the constituencies from the opposition. Information reaching WeekendPost from some BDP legislators this week indicates that party activists failed to submit their names in numbers as they ‘fear’ the opposition held constituencies.
However BDP legislator for Letlhakeng/Lephepe and party Chief Whip in parliament, Liakat Kablay told this publication that the constituencies under opposition attracted a low number of candidates as they are mostly unwanted. He made particular reference to all five Gaborone constituencies, save for Gaborone North where the newly elected BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi, took a leap of fate and threw his name in the ring, as the only BDP candidate so far. This essentially means Balopi will face off with Haskins Nkaigwa of UDC.
In Gaborone Central, little known Tumisang Healy is the only candidate who has submitted his name so far, and will be locking horns with Phenyo Butale of Botswana Movement for Democracy, an affiliate of UDC. Chris Nthuba will take on Ndaba Gaolathe in Gaborone Bonnington South, after Botsalo Ntuane indicated he will not contest.Kgatleng and Tlokweng constituencies and its wards are reportedly struggling to attract candidates who can compete effectively for the BDP. Thulaganyo Segokgo is said to have submitted his name for Bulela Ditswe. Most candidates who represented the party in the last election like Robert Masitara, Keletso Rakhudu, Botsalo Ntuane, are not in the race as yet.
“In most of these opposition constituencies especially those in Gaborone and surrounding areas like Tlokweng and Kgatleng constituencies, no one seriously wants to stand, the situation is dire. Most of our party activists fear these constituencies. To win them from opposition will be very tough,” the BDP Chief Whip highlighted. Another BDP legislator Polson Majaga also mentioned that many BDP members did not show interest for Bulela Ditswe in large numbers as expected. “They didn’t show that much interest in those constituencies,” Majaga pointed out.
The constituencies include Gaborone Central, Gaborone Bonnington North, Gaborone Bonnington South, Gaborone North, Francistown South, Maun West, Selibe Phikwe West, Mochudi East, Mochudi West and Ramotswa. Others comprise Tlokweng, Mogoditshane, Gabane/Mmankgodi, Molepolole North, Molepolole South, Goodhope/Mabule, Kanye South, Jwaneng/Mabutsane and Ghanzi North.
BDP Central Committee to undertake vigorous vetting of candidates
Meanwhile, the newly elected BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi said that following the deadline of submission of candidates on Tuesday for Bulela Ditswe in the 19 constituencies, the party Central Committee will undertake vigorous vetting. Balopi told this publication they had received all parliamentary candidates vying for Bulela Ditswe, and are busy compiling a report and will continue with this process and later reconcile. He explained that in the vetting process, all candidates who have not paid their membership fees and who defaulted on their subscription will be disqualified immediately.
“After reconciliations have been done, there will be a strong and spirited vetting process,” Balopi emphasized. He stated: “We will be checking on whether candidates have been attending all BDP meetings and functions as per what is expected. We will check whether they have been active members in good standing and defending the party policies and programmes.” According to the BDP SG, the party Central Committee will also check whether candidates have not at any point contravened the provisions of the party constitution.
In addition, they will also look at whether the candidates can be trusted with the responsibility of representing the party. “The standard will be used for everyone,” Balopi stressed.Vetting will begin on the 1st to the 6th August. It will start with all the party branch committees, and later will be passed to the Central Committee before the 6th where the final vetting will take place. The Central Committee will then sit on 7th August to determine candidates’ fate. The 19 constituencies will conduct the party primary elections on the 21st October.
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.