Sefhare-Ramokgoname Member of Parliament and also Minister of Health and Wellness, Dorcas Makgato is unapologetic on her mission to see more women coming to the National Assembly after the 2019 general election.
She is concerned by the likely drop in female parliamentarians come 2019, but her push to retain her position of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Women’s Wing chairmanship could just afford her the platform to ensure for a thorough women agenda, at least at her party. Mahalapye East Member of Parliament, Botlogile Tshireletso has already announced that she will not contest the 2019 general election;
The late former Tlokweng constituency Member of Parliament, Same Bathobakae will be replaced by a man owing to the candidates already campaigning for the bye-election; Serowe South Member of Parliament, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi may not be available for 2019. These are signs that worry the women in politics because their numbers in Parliament appear to drop with every election.
“I am availing myself for the position of BDP Women’s Wing chairperson again because two years is not enough to turn around an organisation and achieve what you intend to achieve,” she stated in an interview. Makgato wants to be given another term so that she can transform the BDP Women’s Wing and influence the impact of women in politics in Botswana.
Makgato and her team, which still supports her bid, intend to use internal party processes to lobby Government to ratify the SADC Gender Protocol. “This will ensure a good start in pumping up the mission to push more able women into politics,” she said. She said women will need to be knowledgeable, have political understanding and be economically empowered if they are to succeed in their quest to make to high political offices.
“You will acknowledge that as a soon as you are elected, the first year you format, and the second year that is when you start executing. My main focus was to transform the engagement processes, align them with party structures and ensure that they are functional,” she said. She observed that there is need for platforms were issues of policy could be addressed because elective congresses are not productive because people focus mainly on mobilisation to get votes hence the need to transform the engagement processes.
Makgato said she has been busy during her reign as she focused on three things including pursuing the BDP congress to allow the Women’s Wing to hold its congress before the National Council of the party so that their resolutions could be discussed during the same year. The BDP Women’s Wing holds its congress from March 13th to 17th under the theme Empowered and United for 2019.
According to the Minister, she also focused on creating a platform of engagement on issues that look at programmes, policies and interactions that could project the Women’s Wing voice. She said they came up with an Annual General Meeting which was first held in Mahalapye and attended by 1000 people to ensure thorough dialogue on issues that are relevant to the empowerment of women and strengthening of the party.
At the first AGM, Makgato and her team focused on socio-economic and political empowerment. The resolutions of the AGM will be submitted and subjected and congress discussion. “We had very thorough discussions including focus on issues such as gender based violence, social empowerment among others, we want to influence the law as far as these things are concerned,” she said. On social empowerment, Makgato said they want to impact directly on programmes and their implementation.
Makgato said political empowerment will need Botswana to ratify the SADC gender protocol. She also intends to work around the clock with her team to provide capacity building, skills development, and mentorship to young BDP members. “BDP members should reap the benefits of the many programs on offer to upskill themselves. We want to influence policy, for us to do that we must be capacitated.”
Commenting on the forthcoming BDP congress where a central committee will be elected, Makgato said: “we strongly believe that every structure of the party must be supportive of the central committee, as the Women’s Wing we are ready to ensure that structures work after the BDP internal democracy has done its part.
It is of utmost importance that all structures are united because through unity 2019 is guaranteed.” Makgato warned that the only threat for the BDP towards 2019 is disunity and malicious politics. She cited the example that there are those who are hell-bent on brewing acrimony between her and the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, but she is not going to validate their agenda.
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.