Police Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe has been accused of ruling with an iron fist as since he took over as Police Commissioner, there has been a rise in the number of police officers who have been dismissed from Botswana Police Services (BPS).
Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi told parliament this week that from August, 2012, 230 officers were dismissed from the BPS, whereas a total of 146 officers were dismissed between 2007 and July 2012. Makgophe took over the reins under controversial fashion as the apparent heir to the throne; Kenny Kapinga was instead sent on a diplomatic mission in South Africa.
Selibe Phikwe West legislator, Dithapelo Keorapetse had asked the minister to inform parliament about the number of Police Officers who have been dismissed from service summarily or after internal disciplinary hearings since August 2012 compared to the period between 2007 and 2012.
Keorapetse attributed the rise in the number of police officers being dismissed from work to incompetence of the incumbent commissioner since in the line of ranking he didn’t deserve to be appointed to the position. “Do you realise that since the new commissioner took over the number of officers being dismissed from work has risen as compared to under the previous police commissioners? What is the cause of this?” Keorapetse questioned Kgathi.
Kgathi has however covered up for the commissioner as he remarked that they could be more officers being dismissed because of ill discipline and also strict application of law by the new commissioner. According to Kgathi, the officers were charged with offences which include; neglect of duty, discreditable conduct, acting in a manner likely to bring discredit to the reputation of the Service, disobedience of lawful orders, cases rendering oneself unfit for duty through the consumption of intoxicating liquor or drugs, and absenteeism from duty without leave or reasonable cause.
“We all know that the incumbent Commissioner did not deserve to be appointed the Commissioner because according to Botswana Police hierarchy the Deputy Commissioner, Kenny Kapinga was supposed to have been appointed to the position,” said Keorapetse Keorapetse further indicated that the state of affairs at BPS in which officers are being dismissed at an unprecedented rate indicates that the commissioner is not competent enough or he is trying to impress his superiors.
Under his leadership, the Botswana Police Services has been involved in controversial acts including brutality on striking citizens, arrest and detention of journalists and citizens engaged in strike. They have been at least three famous cases of arrest of journalists of which they were later discharged after being detained.
Following his return from an ambassadorial post in Zimbabwe, Kapinga spilled the beans on the affairs of Botswana Police and how he ended up leaving the police service. Kapinga has since joined active politics and is expected to contest for a legislative post under Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in Okavango.
Kapinga has said his departure from Botswana Police was not a happy ending as even though he was seemingly given a more lucrative post, in actuality, he was sent on exile. Kapinga was transferred to Foreign Affairs ministry in 2011 following the infamous 2011 public servants strike. He was replaced with Makgophe.
Kapinga is not the only man who fell swiftly in President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s strategy, with Ikwathaeng Bagopi being among the victims. The highly rated former Deputy Commissioner was plunged from the Botswana Police Service and transferred to the former Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs. Bagopi, viewed as one of the finest police men of his generation has since been transferred to head the Public Service College.
Makgophe took over from retired Edward Tsimako, becoming the fifth citizen to be appointed commissioner since independence. Mr Simon Hirschfeld was appointed the first Motswana Police Commissioner. He retired in 1995 after serving as Police Commissioner for 24 consecutive years. Three other Batswana have since served as Commissioners; Norman Moleboge (1995 -2004), and Edwin Batshu (2004 – 2007).
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.