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Batlokwa protest Jamali’s water grab

Residents of Tlokweng this week Thursday protested an illegal water siphoning connection attached to the Notwane river system by Iranian born real estate magnate, Seyyed Jamali.

Tlokweng residents told Minister for Land Management, Water and Sanitation Management, Prince Maele that while they have been encircled by Gaborone township and big farms, they no longer have places where they water their livestock because Jamali’s equipment diverts water to his premises in ways major.

Residents however remained in the dark about what goes on at the Iranian’s large property. Some speculated that his connection diverts water to his premises which he then sells to tankers and water bowsers. Some labelled it ‘Jamali’s stadium’ or field whose lights often lights up the place at night.

Maele responded by stating that he is aware of the issue and that Jamali has already been summoned by the Water Affairs Department over his illegal connection and was told to disconnect his paraphernalia from the river system.  “Concerning the Jamali issue, it has already arrived at my office. It’s unlawful for him to draw water from the river. Like I told you earlier, it is unlawful and you have to go through proper channels. but we will solve it. You don’t just take those things. It should reflect that you have tried to talk to someone and that is when you can go and confiscate those things,” Maele responded.

“An unnamed villager stated that Jamali has a big farm form where he draws water from a government dam. The person further stated that as far as they know he acquired the land legally “but there is something that he did on his own without government agreement. He has dug a dam and there is an engine. Those who saw it say the water is drawn electrically. ”he stated.

Another resident, Mmapula Letlapeng who is a former councilor in Tlokweng stated that she could not figure out the purpose of Jamali’s establishment wondering in a sarcastic tone whether it was a stadium. Maele had stated earlier that drawing water from the river without authorization from the department of Water and Sanitation is an illegal activity and a disregard of the Water Act. He stated that those who do that disturb the rivers water flow. He noted that those who wish to siphon water from the river system should engage the authorities who will inspect the area and decide whether to give the greenlight or not.

Maele acknowledged that Batlokwa have many issues chief among them being about land. He stated that to resolve them he has reached an agreement with the Tlokweng traditional leadership to convene a meeting on the 30th of March where both sides will come armed with all the necessary documentation to resolve an issue where Batlokwa and government are locked in a case where each side claims ownership to three large tracts of land. He stated that afterwards that is when they will call Batlokwa to announce what they have agreed on.

 He stated that his delegation will include his Permeant Secretary, land surveyors and other top officials. He also gave Kgosi Gaborone to invite those necessary on their side. “There are three ranches where we don’t agree on the ownership. The land board says it’s theirs and the Dikgosi says it’s theirs too.” “There should be an end to this fight. Somebody should win ranches and to do that we should all come with documents.” To requests of ascertaining where the village boundary lie, Maele also stated that government surveyors will be called to determine that.

He further said that from the 23rd to the 27th of March 2017 he will authorise the Tlokweng Land board to allocate 600 residential plots to those on the waiting list if Kgosi Puso Gaborone gives him the greenlight. He noted that, as per a cabinet determination on peri-urban areas such as Tati-Siding, out of the 600 plots, Batlokwa will be allocated 60% plots while Batswana from elsewhere will be allocated 40% under whose Batlokwa will still be eligible. He also revealed that Tlokweng has 54 331 names on the waiting list awaiting land allocation but stated that out of the 600 available plots, those who have been allocated residential plots before will be struck out.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021

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.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

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.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021

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.

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