Member of Parliament (MP) for Nata/Gweta, Polson Majaga
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leadership has given up on one of their own and have completely thrown in the towel as efforts to soften Member of Parliament (MP) for Nata/Gweta, Polson Majaga hit a snag.
Majaga has been vehemently bashing his party in his National Assembly contributions.
While backbenchers in MP for Tati West- Biggie Butale, MP for Boteti East- Lelatisitswe Sethomo and controversial Francistown West MP, Igantius Moswaane have toned down, Majaga has reportedly vowed to maintain his stand of fearlessly speaking his mind. At a recent Parliamentary caucus, Majaga is said to have refused to be swayed and told his party members that he will never allow himself to be turned into a puppet when he has a mind of his own.
So unsettled is the BDP that it allegedly sent the “reformed” Moswaane to Majaga’s house while he was away over the just ended President’s Holidays to persuade his family to reason with him regarding this matter.
“Moswaane was one of the MPs sent to try to persuade Majaga to toe the party line and accept caucus decisions,” a source revealed.
The recent bout between Majaga and BDP top leadership was during the party caucus regarding the upcoming presidential package, which Majaga has, according inside sources, rejected and promised not to support.
The presidential package, to be offered to President Khama after leaving office states that among other benefits, “a retired President is given the option to choose between having an office, where he or she prefers, of the standard and size specified by the President or receiving office accommodation allowance using the prevailing Gaborone market rental rates.
WeekendPost has gathered that, BDP leadership, in an effort to garner support for the presidential package bill, is dangling a juicy carrot before backbenchers and have secretly told some of them if not all, that they would be considered for one of the ministerial post to be availed by another amendment bill in parliament.
The amendment bill will create two more ministries in the process creating four posts in cabinet, for two ministers and their assistants. It is reported that although, Khama could fill the top two ministerial posts with Specially Elected members, two current back benchers would be appointed as assistant ministers. Khama is likely to reshuffle his cabinet after the endorsement of Special Elected MPs.
Inside sources indicate that BDP would use the enticement as a bargaining tool for support of the bill, which has already raised eye brows in the public domain.
While each member of the 16 BDP backbenchers is hoping to make it to cabinet, Majaga is not about to compromise his freedom of expression for the sake of his party’s image. A fortnight ago, he joined the opposition brigade in criticising the controversial Trade Dispute Bill and even went to the extent of warning Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu that the bill would create a bad legacy for him.
The Trade Dispute Amendment Bill, which is now at committee stage, will make a number of civil services to fall under Essential Service category, prohibiting them from engaging on industrial action in future.
“I feel uncomfortable to support this Bill because of the reasons I have. That is my nature. If I do not agree with something, I feel compelled to just say outright my reasons to be heard,” he told parliament.
“This country has democratic procedures that allow Batswana to go on strike. I really agree with that notion because it is a way of showing their disgruntlement with the government of the day.”
Before that, Majaga had dismissed the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) during this year’s Budget Speech. ESP has been popular since it was announced by Khama at a BDP Special Congress in October last year.
Majaga criticised it as not addressing the problems faced by his constituents, arguing that, chief amongst the problems they are faced with was projects backlog from National Development Plan- NDP 8 up to NDP 10.
“Many people think ESP is meant to address all the problems that we are facing and that all projects that were not undertaken will be carried out. I looked at the projects planned under ESP and many projects that were left out in the previous plans from NDP 8 up to NDP 10 are still not part of ESP,” he told parliament.
“People are expecting these developments to be undertaken under ESP, because I went there to inform them about the programme, and I have to come back to this house to represent them…I am here representing my constituents, they sent me here and I will speak without fear.”
Majaga denounced any chance of success for ESP as long as core problems faced by the people are not addressed; further stating that it has only raised false hopes.
At the beginning of the 11 th parliament, more BDP backbench were vocal, including the likes of Biggie Butale who called for rigorous change in government, including an infamous motion in which he wanted government to honour the fallen opposition leader, Gomolemo Motswaledi of the opposition, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Although the unpredictable Moswaane is currently the one who is said to be used to soften Majaga, during his first months in Parliament, he was even more vehement towards his party as he sought President Ian Khama to be hauled before parliament to answer question from MPs and account for government actions.
Khama, who was worried by the development seized a moment at Mmadinare Congress last year and remarked that the party will take a stern warning against MPs who have the tendency of attacking government in parliamentary deliberations.
Khama even stated that the rebellious cohorts were “forgetting the hard work which the party put in to get them elected”.
It was widely believed that, back then Khama was targeting Moswaane. The latter has since forsaken his earlier stance to not dance to the party tune.
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.