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Masisi fights back

Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi tried a show of strength, inviting southern based councillors to an official launch meeting at Yarona Country Lodge in Mogoditshane on Wednesday evening. About 200 Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) enthusiasts, including eight cabinet ministers and four Members of Parliament attended the launch.

Masisi, who was officially, launched by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, told his listeners that he is surprised that he wants to chair the BDP so that he could continue to face the opposition head-on and recruit members from their ranks.

He said his intentions are clear, he wants to bring Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) members back to the BDP fold – because that is where they belong. Furthermore, Masisi is reported to have told attendants at his launch that he wants to bring stability to the BDP and asked them to vote him a central committee made up of people who are not ensnared to factions.

According to Masisi, he is in good terms with President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama and he has been supporting him tremendously in all his duties. The Vice President indicated at the launch that he was an observer at the BDP 2003 congress where President Khama who was Vice President then was elected chairman of the party.

He said he is surprised that people who supported the ideal then have turned against it and do not want him to be chairman. He said as the future president of the country he deserves the chairmanship or leadership of the party. He concluded by stating that he is ready to face Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader, Duma Boko in a presidential debate. He indicated that he will soon be touring the country with Venson-Moitoi to announce his candidacy for chairmanship.

Launching Masisi, Serowe South Member of Parliament, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi emphasised that President Khama has set the tone by endorsing Masisi hence every BDP member should follow suit. She said Masisi is the only person – at the moment – capable of chairing the BDP. On the other hand Venson-Moitoi’s political nemesis, Tebelelo Seretse is supporting Masisi’s challenger Nonofo Molefhi, and is the lead campaigner. Insiders see a continuance of Venson-Moitoi/Seretse sparring.

But Venson-Moitoi emphasised that Masisi supported her during her failed bid for African Union Commission chairmanship. According to Venson-Moitoi it could be embarrassing for the party for a candidate supported by the President to lose an intra-party election.  She also threw in the narrative that it is tradition that the Vice President and future president of the party becomes chairman of the party. She is reported to have stated that she is surprised that those who supported the arrangement in 2003 have somersaulted.  

Ministers who attended the launch include Slumber Tsogwane, Kefentse Mzwinila, Venson-Moitoi, Shaw Kgathi, Sadique Kebonang, Patrick Ralotsia, Mabeo, Eric Molale and Vincent Seretse. Members of Parliament included Mephato Reatile, Likay Kably, Samson Guma Moyo and Bagalatia Arone. Most of the attendants were councillors who were officially invited in their capacity as councillors in the southern side of the country.

At the Mmadinare congress where Masisi triumphed against Tebelelo Seretse, he had assembled a campaign team coordinated by Ishmael Legwaila, and members including Cllr Mojuta, Monageng, Ratora, Isaac Maforaga, Medupi and Victor Malete who has since retired after the Mmadinare congress. But most of these are people are no way to be found in the current line-up, some have chosen to join Molefhi’s camp while some have decided to stay home.

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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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