It will be an eventful year for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), apart from the much anticipated central committee elective congress slated for winter this year, the Youth Wing of the ruling party will in two weeks’ time elect a new National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC) in Tsabong.
Expected to be one of the highly contested youth elective congresses in the history of BDP youth politics, seven teams were initially assembled to battle it out for a place in the NYEC, however sources close to the BDP youth circles reveal that the teams have decreased to six. The teams, it is expected, will merge towards what is forecast to be a mouth watering contest, further reducing the number of contestants.
The Youth congress is expected to set the tone for the BDP 2017 calendar of events. Speaking to WeekendPost on Wednesday, Collin Mochoti confirmed to this publication that he has decided with his team to dismantle and seek NYEC positions under Thabo Autlwetse’s leadership, reducing the chairmanship contestants to six. The contestants for the chairmanship are Thabo King Autlwetse, Vuyo Notta, Foxx Segwai, Bruce Nkgakile, Ronald Kgathi and Simon Mavange.
“Yes I have taken the decision alongside a team of young democrats I initially assembled under my wing to merge with Thabo Autlwetse‘s team towards forming a formidable force to represent BDP youth,” he said. Mochoti ‘s compromise to settle for Committee Secretary General position under Autlwetse’s team leaves a 6 Man race at Tsabong to replace Andy Boatile who is said to be eyeing Shaw Kgathi’s Deputy Secretary General position come June/July this year.
A well know youth activist who attracts controversial critics at times told WeekendPost that he believes is the right man for the BDP NYEC Chairmanship. A business man in his own right, Nkgakile who announces on social media more often that his bank accounts seats at millions noted that he is not bending to any compromise that gives him a position less than that of Chairmanship.
“I am contesting for this position for 1 reason, to influence policy,” he said in an interview this publication. “I have exhausted all the levels of empowering young people, from business seminars, capacity building workshops, and so forth I am now taking this challenge to complete the job by running for a position that will enable me to influence national youth policy crafting,” said Nkgakile.
The commercial farmer and Former President Sir QKJ Masire’s Protégée argues that BDP needs revived party structures. “Right now it’s even difficult for us to campaign because there are no structures to engage at the ward and constituency levels, especially youth structures, those are some things that I intend to voice out and fix as the NYEC Chair,” he said.
Nkgakile who is the Mastermind behind Kgang-Tseleng Setswana Debate, Miss Africa amongst other impactful projects vowed to advocate for the return of Youth Parliament and engagement of youth in Job creation amongst other things. The former Silent Shout TV presenter rubs shoulders with national leaders and prides himself with doing business with South African Zulu Kingdom King Buthelezdi. Within BDP activism circles he enjoys backing from BDP diehard fans Selwana Kesebonye and legendary student politician and women empowerment advocate Thato Best Dineo.
Many believe it is his time after he suffered a marginal defeat at Masunga 2015 congress when Andy Boatile retained his chairmanship for a second term. Autlwetse confirmed to WeekendPost this week that he is confident of winning this time after roping in Collen Mochoti’s numbers who he claims is very a influential figure within BDP youth corridors. He noted he is more familiar with BDP culture and traditions than any other candidate.
“What separates me from others is that I rose through the BDP ranks from the grassroots cell structure through to regional and national structures. I understand the party and its traditions and any innovation I would implement would be without compromising the party's identity,” he said. The former NYEC information officer who also served as a secretary in the Gaborone Central region stipulates that BDP needs to have a clear grooming machinery and good leadership retention
“We need to groom and retain leaders and not continue developing leadership for the opposition. That requires a party man who has its ethos rooted in him,” he noted adding that the primary mandate of party structures is to further the party's political interests while also advising government within constitutional limits without playing a parallel government. “The risk of electing people without an understanding of the intricate relationship between party and government would be to create a conflict between the two. All democrats with an interest in NYEC Chairmanship are my competition; it takes a special bond between member and institution for one to volunteer themselves to serve, all who have thus far are worthy,” said Autlwetse.
Mavange is Secretary General of the outgoing National Youth Executive Committee. The Masunga born youngster is the oldest of the contestants, he portrays himself as the most experienced amongst the runners. Speaking to WeekendPost this week Mavange said amongst other things why young democrats must promote him to the committee chairmanship position is that as the General Secretary, he managed with his committee to convince party leadership to increase number of youth specially elected councillors from 23 to 43.
He added that the increase saw a number of BDP youngsters even elevating to Council Chairpersons. Mavange also argued that having successfully served as the deputy chairman of Botswana National Youth Council at some point leading the BDP youth won’t be a difficult job for him.
“I am the most experienced candidate and having served for the past two terms in the National Youth Executive Committee, and having influenced numerous positive changes it is ideal that young democrats elect me as their chairman,” he said. According to Mavange people who are elected into party structures must be put through workshops and oriented to be familiarized with party regulations, ethics and traditions.
“Currently we have a problem, people holding party leadership positions from ward level, constituency, regional and even national executive positions lack the capacity to carry out their mandates,” he said. He intends to put in place regular capacity building undertakings to empower young people and other leaders about party programs as well as government policies, should he win.
Notha is a former University of Botswana student Politician, currently serving as a specially elected councillor at Sowatown and a member of BDP national communications committee. As a very close ally to the corporate sector, he says citizen engagement will be his main focus as NYEC chair.
The philanthropist and social justice advocate who commands much respect amongst Serowe youth; particularly for his Vuyo Cup football and netball tournament says his leadership will be encored on engaging the people he serves. “We want to bring the corporate sector, spiritual and social leaders, and young people from the sports fraternity and entertainment industries to come onboard and revive the BDP vibe catering for all kinds of youngsters,” he said.
He further added that BDP as a national organization needs to appeal to all stakeholders of the economy and social development towards the empowerment of Batswana. “Trade unions, NGO’s and Non -State actors, business people, corporate Parastatals and the youth as the largest age group of our workforce need to take the front seat in crafting national policies and empowerment programs.” “Currently there are no platforms to engage youth and make them have a say in underwriting their own empowerment programs,” he observed.
A BDP foot soldier, Segwai is of the view that leadership is about representation and not positions. “I believe such a position is a position of representation not leadership, I do not become an aspirant because I want to, I become an aspirant because people and the youth are more than willing to work with me,” he remarked.
According to Segwai unemployment is a very critical matter, though he was economical with information about this campaign and candidature Segwai said the possibility of him merging with other teams cannot be thrown out. “I can’t disclose much on it now, I reassure You, I shall invite your publication to our team manifesto official launch soon, that is when I and my team will share much on it, it is not an individual affair, it requires brilliant minds to deal with, and I am certain my team has those minds,” he explained. “It is really not about me, but youth of the BDP in extension of Botswana. It is a necessity for us to protect the legacy of our forefathers, this nation and to do so BDP has to remain in power. I will share much on this one also at the lobby press conference.”
Bobirwa MP Shaw Kgathi’s son, Ronald has a vision for BDP youth and the Botswana youth at large. “My track record in the corporate sector and experience in business will complement my political energy to 1. Fundraise for the committee and promote accountability, integrity and delivery 2.Advocate for youth representation in leadership positions. 3. Revive youth committees across all the 14 regions 4. Fraternal relations and unlock business opportunities for youth 5. Recruitment and political education targeted at Senior & all tertiary institutions of higher learning,” said Kgathi
According to him, talks with other teams to reach a consensus towards forming a formidable National Youth Executive Committee are ongoing.” I cannot rule out the possibility of merging with other teams, we are still in talks and hopefully we will agree.”
Following their loss to the Duma Boko-led lobby in the Botswana National Front (BNF)’s national congress last month, some members of the party are reportedly considering forming a new political party.
According to members, the new party will be formed after they receive a tip-off that the BNF will do all it can to ensure that the aggrieved members do not participate in the 2024 national elections. This will reportedly done through a carefully orchestrated primary elections elimination campaign.
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.