President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s courageous but dicey remarks calling for ageing President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe to step down have attracted support, intriguingly from an unlikely political figure.
In September last year president Khama told United Kingdom (UK) based news agency that it is time for Mugabe to step down from the presidency of Zimbabwe and allow a new leader to take over. His reasons then was that Mugabe is too old and therefore is unable to provide the kind of leadership that Zimbabwe needs and now, a long time Mugabe sympathiser and admirer, Julius Malema who is a leader of South African opposition party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has come out clear this week stating that the time has arrived for the veteran leader to step aside.
While Malema praised the legacy of Mugabe, when speaking in Braamfontein early this week, he said with his age and ailing health the wise thing for Mugabe would be to “let go and allow other people to continue that legacy”. “The Zimbabwean situation is bad… President Mugabe cannot even handle a spade when he tried to plant a tree just recently… that is how old he is. He is no longer capable of discharging his duties and then they nominate him for presidency again in 2018,” said the concerned Malema during a press conference on Monday.
The South African firebrand was basically echoing concerns raised by Botswana President, Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama who had earlier stated that, “it is obvious that at his (Mugabe’s) age and the state Zimbabwe is in, he's not really able to provide the leadership that could get it out of its predicament.”
Khama’s contention was that, Mugabe’s continued stay in power, “is a big concern, it is a problem for all of us in the region – and it is a burden. There's no doubt about that." His stand was dicey given the silence that the entire continent had kept regarding the situation in Zimbabwe and given the fact that Botswana has also been accused of not being part of the “African agenda” but always taking the side of the west on various issues concerning Africa.
Malema for instance, had in the past criticised Khama’s foreign policy, labelling Botswana a puppet of the west for the decision the country’s leadership made in the past; decisions which were completely different from the rest of other African countries. Conversely, this time around Malema shares the same sentiment as Khama.
“We do not hate Mugabe, they can respond and insult us however they want… but those comrades in Zanu-PF are a group of cowards for not being able to tell an old man like Mugabe to go. Fidel Castro (Former Cuban president) let go when he was no longer able to lead. Grandpa, it is enough now… allow other people to take the revolution forward in Zimbabwe," Malema is now chanting this chorus.
Malema said African revolutionaries such as EFF were following the footstep of the Zimbabwean leader, but by staying in power for long, it undermines what was initially achieved through revolution. "Those leading (the) struggle tend to overstay and destroy a legitimate revolution… and that is not good for the struggle, the SA Development Community (SADC) and reclaiming the land back in Africa. There are capable young people in the Zanu-PF to continue the legacy."
Malema also criticised the leadership of AU, saying it should have taken the leading role in the political crisis which was ensuing in Gambia following last year’s elections. Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was able to avert the danger through political and military intervention.
Following negotiations, Yahya Jammeh who had been in power for more than two decades agreed to pave way peacefully. He then went on exile in Equatorial Guinea. "The ECOWAS work is something that we wish to see happening across the continent. The AU should have been the first body to declare that stand taken by ECOWAS… but then the AU, toothless and useless as it is, is led by people who have no idea where they want to take the continent to and were found wanting,” said Malema who then suggested that, “The upcoming AU summit should focus on finding ways to deepen democratic practices, and how to avoid long term presidencies in the continent."
Botswana’s Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi will be running for the leadership of AU, a victory will give her a challenge to transform Africa with regard to democratic process and transition of power. The continent is still marred by leaders who refuse to leave power at the end of their constitutional term.
Botswana has openly spoken against leaders who refuse to leave power or extended political terms amid violent situations. On the Gambia political crisis, Botswana was the first African country to state that it has stopped recognising Jammeh as president of The Gambia. The stand earned Botswana admiration from the international community and enhanced Venson-Moitoi’s bid for AU chairmanship.
“As chairperson, the AUC, I will commit to promoting practices that seek to enhance Africa’s quest for democratic development. I will galvanise the support of all members states of the AUC to ensure that, together, we champion democratic governance by promoting the strengthening of democratic institutions, safe guarding human rights and guaranteeing the rule of law,” said Venson-Moitoi in her campaigning message.
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.