Nineteen constituencies have written to party Secretary General, Gilbert Mangole to trigger convention of a special congress, to among other things dissolve its current leadership.
Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Chairman, Nehemiah Modubule told this publication that the two major reasons in the letters he has seen pivot on the dissolution of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and constitutional amendment.
The constituencies’ reason is that the NEC is dysfunctional and they therefore want to remedy that impasse through dissolution. The dissolution of the NEC would mean that fresh elections be immediately called to elect new party leadership.
He said that another reason stated in the letters is amendment of BMD constitution to give the president more powers. Modubule however said that the constitution was drawn up intentionally to avoid misuse of power by avoiding centralising power on one individual.
The BMD constitution was liberalised at inception of the party in hindsight of the troubles that its founders went through at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).It currently vests more powers on the NEC.
Mangole reportedly has acknowledged receiving 19 letters from constituencies requesting a special congress.
Notwithstanding, Modubule said that preparations for holding a special congress is not a walk in the park as some seem to think and that it is unlikely that it will be held next month. He further said that it is an unwise move because UDC congress is slated for October 2016.
He further said that the NEC has scheduled a meeting for the 6th of August to assess the letters and if all is in order, the NEC will cobble a Preparatory Committee to oversee congress logistics.
He further said that preparations include making ballot papers, holding constituencies’ congresses, and confirmation of presence of structures by the Secretary General. Modubule also said that it will also require mammoth pooling of funds to bus members to the special congress as well as P500 payments to the NEC by assembling constituencies.
The party is also not in a good position to hold two congresses in the space of about 12 months, according to Modubule. In fact, he says, resources are spread too thin that even holding next year’s ordinary congress will be a struggle as they are having a hard time paying rental for party offices.
He said that above all he does not see reason in calling for a special congress while the path of mediation has not been explored and further while the party is set to descend for an ordinary congress next year in July.
Modubule also said that BMD president Ndaba Gaolathe flouted the constitution by holding regional tours without consultation with the NEC. He said that proper procedure involves Gaolathe briefing the NEC, with valid reasons and the Secretary General arranging the tour’s logistics.
“The SG must not hear on the street that the president is on tour,” Modubule said.
Modubule also said that his team is scheduled to meet with Botswana National Front (BNF) president Duma Boko in two weeks with the hope of saving BMD from the ensuing factional kerfuffle.
He further said that despite the party’s current position in the eye of the storm, he does not understand what the fight is about.
He said that he does not see assumption that Sydney Pilane harboured intentions to challenge Gaolathe and Boko for BMD and UDC leadership positions respectively, as reason enough as it is based on conjecture.
He said that Pilane should be given party membership and if truly he is unwanted by the party he will be rejected at the ballot.
He also said that Pilane also has the right to associate and should not be hauled over the coals for his lawyer-client relationship with Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) boss, Isaac Kgosi.
Modubule further explained that the Kgosi connection came as a result of Kgosi’s prosecution by Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and that Kgosi’s lawyers only roped in Pilane as an advocate.
“What type of government are we going to run that rules based on seeing the political colour bar first?” posed Modubule.
He continued to say that he feels that both factions should come to the table and talk, even if the special congress move should prevail further highlighting that they should go to special congress in talking terms.
He said that careering to special congress in the current manner risks haemorrhaging the party because everyone will maintain their position to the very last moment.
“Firstly we must find one another, once we have done that then we can prepare for any party activity.”
He however said that Gaolathe’s main aim is to supplant the Modubule-Mangole axis and instate his own men in the resulting vacuum, and dismissed the Pilane issue as a smokescreen for the task.
“He is trying his chance again; it’s about people who lost in Gantsi, Sydney is just a scapegoat to put those he wants. That’s the aim. In fact he will be happy if we abandon our positions, he would even cancel the special congress,” the former Lobatse legislator said.
According to him, Gaolathe and his team were backing Phenyo Butale and Pius Mokgware in Gantsi and after he and Mangole won their positions Gaolathe never congratulated them.
MODUBULE BLASTS BMD FAULTFINDERS
Meanwhile Modubule has expressed displeasure at those who accuse the BMD of delaying opposition cooperation talks. He said the BMD has submitted a full list of names of people to represent the party at the talks and it is unfair for the UDC to point a finger at BMD for the delayed talks.
He said the UDC has no right to vet any person from contracting partners when it comes to negotiators. “We have long submitted our names; we have gone for training; we have passed the training. We are as worried as everybody else as to why the talks are being delayed,” he said. He said the differences at BMD have nothing to do with the talks, “BMD internal squabbles may last until next year, so the UDC will still be waiting?” According to Modubule those who are calling for a special congress at the BMD have a right to do so but they must follow process. “I am concerned that they seem to misinterpret the constitution, there will be no congress in August,” he said.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.