President Lt Gen Ian Khama has overlooked two of Botswana’s most recognisable politicians since independence; Daniel Kwelagobe and Dr Kenneth Koma in the Presidential Honours held on the eve of the country‘s 5o the independence anniversary.
Khama conferred presidential honours upon 76 living and dead individuals who have contributed immensely in the formative years of Botswana. Khama honoured former presidents and their First Ladies, former Vice Presidents, First Cabinet, and First Members of Parliament (1965-1969).
Khama also honoured; first members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, members of Legislative Council, which drafted the country’ constitution. Among those who were in the Legislative Council include Leetile Raditladi, Motsamai Mpho, Kgalemang Motsete and other chiefs were part of the council.
Other pioneers, who did not fall within the above categories, were also honoured. Dr Gaositwe Chiepe, the country first female MP and first female cabinet minister was honoured. Archibald Mogwe, a long time Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) veteran who was in the civil service at the time of independence, and became MP in 1974 was also honoured. The same token was extended to Kebatlamang Morake, BDP’s founding Executive Secretary.
Moleleki Mokama, the first Motswana to qualify as a lawyer, and the first citizen to become the Attorney General was also honoured. Simon Hirschfeld, the longest serving Police Commissioner in the world was honoured as well. Hirschfeld was the first citizen to Botswana Police commissioner, a post which he for 24 uninterrupted years from 1971.
Professor Thoma Tlou, a historian, and first Motswana to be Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana (UB) was also honoured.
The honouring of these individuals saw Khama also acknowledging the contribution of a significant number of veterans in the opposition. Among them; KT Motsete who was Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) politician and also the composer of National Anthem, Kgosi Bathoen who belonged to the first crop of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi but later joined Botswana National Front (BNF) as its President.
Those honoured also in the opposition included Philp Matente, the country first Leader of Opposition, Kenneth Nkwa and Thari Motlhagodi, who were first opposition MPs alongside Matante under BPP ticket.
Of the honoured MPs of the first parliament, only three are surviving; Obed Chilume, Gaerolwe Kwerepe and Kenneth Nkhwa. Masire is also part of inaugural parliament.
However, the honouring of the 76 raised eye brows, with Kwelagobe and Koma not finding themselves with the honoured individuals. Kwelagobe is the country’s longest serving MP, having been elected in nine consecutive general elections. DK, as popularly known was an MP from 1969-2014, becoming the only MP and minister to have served under the administration of the four presidents.
Kwelagobe is also the youngest person to be elected MP and to become a cabinet minister. He was only 25 years when he was recruited by founding President Sir Seretse Khama from the civil service to represent BDP in one of Molepolole constituencies.
Kwelagobe is also BDP’s longest serving secretary general, having ascended to the position in 1980, when Masire become party president after Khama’s demise. Prior to that, DK served as Deputy Secretary General. DK held that post until 2007, and have been known to be the most influential man in the BDP since Khama’s death.
Kwelagobe and Khama have been rivals in the factions of the BDP and the two never went along. In the run up to 2009 Kanye Congress, the most divisive congress in the history of the party, Khama and Kwelagobe exchanged words publicly, with the former calling the latter an ailing man and stated that he was not ready to work with.
DK supported Motswaledi, in landmark court battle in 2009, in which Khama’s powers were challenged after he suspended Motswaledi ahead of general elections. More recently, DK supported Dr Margaret Nasha, fall out with Khama, which resulted in her not returning to parliament as Speaker of the National Assembly.
Koma, whom is generally regarded as the father of opposition politics in Botswana, was also omitted. Koma founded BNF in 1965 following the first general elections. The party would go on for the next decades to be the most influential opposition party in Botswana. Since formation, the BNF is the only opposition party which has managed to have representation in parliament after each and every general election.
BNF’s watershed moment was in 1994, under the leadership of Koma in which it won an unprecedented 13 seats in parliament, a development which meant the party was on the verge of winning power, needing only 8 seats in the next general elections to condemn BDP out of power.
Koma became MP in 1984, defeating Botswana’s Vice President, Peter Mmusi for Gaborone South parliamentary seat. He has always been credited with offering alternative policies to the ruling BDP which some of them were later adopted by the party. Among those regarded as his brainchild are the introduction of; old age pension, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), formation of Directorate On Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and public protector’s office, the Ombudsman.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.