Connect with us
Advertisement

BCP MPs, Cllrs convert to UDC

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) meeting held this week has resolved that all Members of Parliament and Councilors of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) cross the floor to join the UDC with immediate effect. The President of the BCP, Dumelang Saleshando is expected to write a letter to the all constituencies informing them of the decision.

The decision to shift BCP MPs and Councilors was taken at a UDC meeting which was originally aimed at addressing the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) crisis but this could not happen after one of the contracting partners the Botswana People’s Party (BPP) absconded. Following this decision, the Botswana People’s Party (BPP) Youth League released a scathing statement in which they refer to BCP as a “third party” that does not belong to the UDC NEC.

Only matters that the BNF and the BCP could resolve conclusively at the meeting were addressed. BPP leader, Motlatsi Molapise supports Gaolathe and holds him in high regard, speculation is that he deliberately handicapped the UDC meeting. As per the UDC agreement, each party has been given one slot for an additional member to the UDC Executive Committee. BCP has two Members of Parliament, Dithapelo Keorapetse of Selibe Phikwe West and Samuel Rantuana of Ramotswa as well 57 councillors across the country.

Contracting partners of the UDC are Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), Botswana Movement for Democracy and Botswana Congress Party (BCP). At the Wednesday meeting held at Oasis Hotel in Tlokweng to discuss among others, the problems afflicting the BMD, it was agreed that a follow up meeting be held in Francistown on August 12th. The Francistown meeting is expected to be the final test that could spell the direction of Botswana’s opposition politics. The Wednesday meeting was attended by among others BNF President Duma Boko and Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa, BCP President Dumelang Saleshando and UDC’s Treasurer Dennis Alexander and Taolo Lucas who is UDC’s additional member from the BCP.

The BMD is currently divided and reconciliation has failed after the party held parallel elective congresses in Bobonong where two different National Executive Committees were elected. This has put the UDC, especially its leadership in a precarious situation with the supporters of the two BMD factions seeking legitimacy and endorsement by the UDC. A Nehemiah Modubule led BMD National Executive Committee laid charges that led to the expulsion of Gaolathe, his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi and others from the party. This is what led to a chaotic congress after Gaolathe and Co refused to appear before the Disciplinary committee and were expelled from the party. It is understood that the Gaolathe faction met on Tuesday night in Gaborone at Falcon Crest and agreed with BPP to snub Wednesday’s UDC meeting.
 
They also discussed the option of forming a new party but chose to wait for the UDC to deliberate on the matter and take a decision. The court route was also discussed but it is not favoured by many. The majority agreed that they should wait for the outcome of the UDC leadership hence the decision of the August 12th meeting could have ramifications. Meanwhile the UDC NEC has written a letter to the Sidney Pilane faction of the BMD informing them of the Ndaba Gaolathe led BMD’s demand for a fresh congress to resolve the impasse. In the said letter the Pilane faction has been asked to respond and state their position as far the demand is concerned.

BPP says BCP is not a UDC NEC member

On another subject the BPP has distanced itself from the UDC meeting that took place at Oasis Motel in Tlokweng. “The BPP is not aware of any legitimate nor a properly constituted meeting of the UDC which took place recently. A meeting between President Duma Boko and friends from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) cannot be taken to be an official meeting of the UDC executive committee. Therefore the meeting being referred to was not a meeting of the UDC executive committee.

The BCP is a third party and does not have rights to attend and participate in official meetings of the UDC executive committee. Those rights are conferred on members of the UDC who are in good standing. The membership of the BCP to the UDC has not been granted. It would not be granted until such time when all the disagreements and concerns registered during the negotiations have been resolved,” wrote the BPPYL President Takula Lenyatso.

According to Lenyatso, the meeting is said to have had intentions to discuss the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and its problems. He stated that discussing positions, issues and problems affecting members of the UDC is a sensitive matter and cannot be done in the presence of third parties, therefore the BPP will not participate in such discussion in the presence of the BCP and/or any other third party unless reasonable grounds can be advanced for that to be done. “The BPPYL and the BPP have not taken any well formed positions concerning issues within the BMD. It should be noted however that the BPP believes in a strict application of the law to maintain order and progress,” he wrote.

Continue Reading

Digital Version

13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

12th August 2022

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

 

Continue Reading

News

DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

Continue Reading

News

Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

Continue Reading
Weekend Post