BCP President, Demelang Saleshando and BDP Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s activists are using some government funded agencies’ services to lure opposition cadres into their fold, WeekendPost can reveal.
While these agencies were established to address the need for logical and all-inclusive support for the development of citizens’ small, medium and large scale enterprises through loans it seems they are being manipulated by some sections of the ruling party.
Agencies like CEDA, which are known to be autonomous offer loan funding for capital expenditure, stock or working capital in new and existing business ventures, and most revealing is that it is controlled by a Board of Directors appointed by the Botswana Government.
WeekendPost has in its possession an audio clip illustrating the ruling party’s recruitment drive. In the recorded clip, BDP activists insist to an unsuspecting opposition member to come up with a business idea so that they will be “easily” funded by organisations in the clutches of government.
“Comrade, what I emphasise to you is that; you come up with any business proposal, and you present it as an application. You will see.”
In the clandestine clip, the BDP activists, former Councillor for Monarch East Raoboy Mpuang and newly recruited BDP activist who was also a Botswana Congress Party (BCP) parliamentary candidate for Nata/Gweta Ditiro Majadibodu wanted to recruit Vaka Mooketsi an ex-contender of Botsalano ward under Botswana Congress Party (BCP) – where he narrowly lost – which also falls under the clutches of Francistown West.
“Listen to me, I will never forsake you comrade, if you have a business idea and in your defection (to join us), and say you are publicly and officially received by the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi here at your home ground- who in their right mind can reject or turn down your applications anywhere?” one of the two BDP cadres pointed out to Mooketsi.
“We have a good government that wants to take care of its citizens as long as you are willing to stand up for yourselves. Try exiting a non-supportive environment, go to a supportive environment,” the recording captured.
These guys are willing to assist anyhow possible, am telling the truth, they stated to the probable recruit. “Politics must work for us. So what you should think is what you can do. Even if it’s not coming from you. Just bring something. They say today’s politics is mostly focused on what you benefit out of it. You should reap something out of it.”
They said sometimes we don’t benefit from the system not as we are opposition activists but because the opposition leaders kill our thinking capabilities.
According to the duo, they convinced the BCP activist that one thing they should understand is that the deal is not all about starting a shop/business but also about the “contacts” or “network” that you should have in life. “It’s all about establishing contacts,” they emphasised while pointing out that it is only that this government do it carefully.
As per dictates of automatic succession Masisi will be the president in 2018, they asserted while highlighting that everyone now wants to be close to him because of that. He knows your ward (Botsalano) and as you know it was under the watchful of his late brother Tshelang Masisi(ex-MP for Francistown West) and therefore he can easily identify with it, they stressed in the shady recruitment initiative.
The potential recruit was also told that BDP has one of the best programmes and policies in the world while they added that; “that’s why you see a youth with no political alignment applying for a programme likeLivestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) and then he is approved right away.”
An example of a success story they said in the initiative that was about people like BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane who it was said are not superior per se to anyone but that they work hard.
“They don’t sit with their brains. They initiate.”
Ntuane who formed BDP splinter party, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) although later re-traced his steps to the BDP has also benefitted from loan through his lucrative Prime Time media company.
The BDP SG confirmed to this publication that indeed “on yes I was once granted half a million loan back in 2009 which was long paid off.”
According to Ntuane, his position is that BDP government empowerment policies never discriminate on the basis of partisanship affiliation.
“In order for these false and mischievous accusations against BDP to end I think the time has come to publish the names of all past and active politicians from all parties who benefitted from government policies.” He said the time has come so that once and for all this matter is put to rest.
He maintained that in any case because these programmes and policies are funded by tax payers’ money why should the names of beneficiaries, especially politicians be kept a secret. “That only leads to suspicions, slander and falsehoods.”
The former BMD Vice president said then that re-joining BDP was the most difficult decision in his life.
Meanwhile, in the recruitment clip Majadibodu also said he recalls that while at BCP he thought he will never join BDP unless he was “bewitched”. “I know it’s a difficult decision for you to take but believe me even with myself it was also arduous to come up to a conclusion to join BDP. But was worth it.”
The former BCP Nata/Gweta parliamentary hopeful said to the BCP member that their leader is the only one making thrives at their (members) expense and courtesy of BDP. “Look at BCP President Dumelang (Saleshado), he is multi-millionaire owing to the ruling BDP government programmes. On annual basis he gets government tenders worth more than 5 million. That is why he can afford to buy himself a BMW worth 1.3 million which is similar to the one chauffeuring ministers.”
He continued: that is why he lives in a 3 storey building of the standard of 5 star hotel in Phakalane. That is why Dumelang can trade with other countries. It’s because of supportive BDP policies.
But the very same guy why can’t he raise some entrepreneurs’ within his party (BCP) and empower them?
“Instead of Dumelang hiring a bus at 1.2 million touring the country alone in it, why not utilise that 1.2 million pula in up skilling say around 10 youths and show Batswana that he can take them out of poverty and that he really means business. So that we can have model young people that symbolises that it’s not all about ourselves.”
According to the recruiters, “so it’s all about Dumelang and him alone. These guys it’s all about themselves. Have you ever see Dumelang donate P 1000 to anyone to campaign? Or to donate to a certain ward to go to BCP congress?”
However Saleshando quashed the allegations in an interview with this publication stating that “I don’t have a BMW and don’t stay in a triple storey house” and “have never tendered for a single government tender.”
But in BDP, they highlighted that certain individuals can be given financial support to go on BDP activities but they have never been part of that as they feel just satisfied. “What I want is to think and have an idea.”
But note that, they told the prospective BDP member that its’ not an issue of you been given hard cash or anything but what you should do is you come up with any proposal and you present it.“BDP can’t give you money but at least can allocate you a tender somewhere in the country as an award for joining the party so that you can sustain yourself.”
You see it’s about your life, in the party you are affiliated to; do you have a better life? They asked rhetorically.
“To be honest as one of the people who have been recruited by the BDP, I have never received not even a single cent, but BDP like any organisation, when there is nothing you don’t want to do for yourself people will end up likening you to the likes of Molefabangwe.”
But if you are a go-getter and proactive and come with initiatives to CEDA you will be most entitled as compared to other citizens, they explained.“Its two-ways you can either join BDP or opposition which will spell the end of your political career. So you have to be careful. It will depend.”
In terms of political interference, he said no politicians can influence them to tilt the scales in favour of anyone to approve their loans – particularly for political interest. “Just for starters we do not ask applicants their political membership, religious or anything like. We just want their omang that’s it. Then we assess the project based on its merit.”
Meanwhile BDP recently recruited BCP affiliates Lotty Manyapedza, Virginia Masole, Thato Osupile, and himself Ditiro Majadibodu in the same style and manner, and lately law maker for Okavango constituency Bagalatia Aarone who was said to have also benefitted from CEDA in his “defection deal.”
Aarone has however said he was entitled to the loan like any other Motswana and it was accepted based on merit.
When reached for comment Mpuang said he was in a meeting while Majadibodu confirmed that BCP’s Vaka Mooketsi is indeed one of the people he has met this year in their recruitment drive.
An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.
In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.
In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.
Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.
More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.
At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.
The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).
Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).
International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.
In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”
The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”
According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.
In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.
The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.
LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.
“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.
Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.
CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”
Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.
About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.
For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.