Following a false start comprising numerous delays of the commencement of the anticipated unity talks between main opposition parties in Botswana, the talks have finally been instigated, albeit at the exclusion of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president, Ndaba Gaolathe, Weekend Post can reveal.
The negotiation team comprises of individual parties; Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP).
Weekend Post has it on good authority that the negotiation talks between the parties were commissioned last week on the 12th September 2016 at Oasis Motel in Tlokweng township, just outside the capital city Gaborone.
It is understood that there are no mediating partners in the negotiations this time around and that Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) will be temporarily set aside to enable talks comprising individual parties to commence on a clean slate.
In fact preliminary indications suggest that there may be a new constitution, new name and the new-fangled colours which are projected to make part of the discussions and therefore the present-day UDC name may be changed if need be, particularly as there will be a new entrant being the BCP.
An impeccable source who sits in the instigated opposition negotiations table revealed that: “we are all committed and we are all pushy. Already some of the cooperating partners with the sense of urgency have drafted the governance structure and constitution of the expected new political formation and some even have submitted and more dialogue will take place and conclusions made thereafter.”
“You know we are most probable to start afresh with new constitution, name may be altered, with no UDC cards which have been the subject of debates, and existing individual parties will continue in the meantime,”he said.
It is understood that the interchanges are premised on three layers in which the first layer, which has already launched so far embraces streams which include; one team assigned to address policy issues.
Still on the stream, the other will be negotiating on the contentious subject of distribution of constituencies while the last one is intended to look at matters of governance, the constitution and power sharing arrangements.
The second layer on the talks will incorporate the central negotiating body where fiery, heated and intense debates and exchanges are anticipated to fly thick in meetings.
Information gathered suggests that the third and last layer will tackle questions of leadership of the new political collaboration formation particularly as to who becomes its president, and by extension, the president of the country if it gains power in the forthcoming 2019 General Elections.
Duma Boko and Dumelang Saleshando are seen as frontrunners in the presidential contest together with Ndaba Gaolathe. Speculations are rife that Margaret Nasha, Sidney Pilane are likely to add to the mix.
Although the UDC has been downgraded, initially the plan was to dispatch 18 team members from UDC and BCP into the negotiations. Out of the 18, it was understood that the UDC will be represented by 6 from BNF, 6 from BPP, and 6 from BMD. On the other hand BCP was also expected to send through 18 of its members to the table and was being waited on, and eventually it was arranged then that six members from each party will be enrolled in each category.
The impeccable source who was present at the 1st official meeting revealed that:“the first leg has started and will drag for the coming three weeks in which the next will follow and the overall talks are anticipated to complete end of October.”
In the commission historic meeting, BNF President Duma Boko was present together with BCP leader, Dumelang Saleshando. BPP was represented by its Secretary General Botho Seboko while party Chairman Nehemiah Modubule stood in for the BMD.
It attendance also was notably Margaret Nasha and Advocate Sidney Pilane both of whom are from the BMD fold. Perhaps in a more revealing way, BMD President, Ndaba Gaolathe was absent at the ground breaking meeting for reasons which this publication could not establish.
When justifying his absence at the momentous meeting of the opposition talks, Ndaba told this publication that during the meeting, he was attending the Parliamentary committee on statutory bodies throughout the week.
He added that him, Boko and Molapisi are not in negotiating teams. “We have delegated responsibility of discussions to various leaders within the UDC,” he said.
The BMD has been a thorn in the flesh for delayed commencement of talks owing to the internal feud and power struggle within the party between its National Executive Committee (NEC) and President and Vice president on the other side.
Indications suggest that Gaolathe does not see eye to eye with Pilane and queries his inclusion in the party negotiation team. Pilane has been roped in to represent the party on governance, constitution and power sharing category.
It is understood that this does not sit well with some BMD cadres including the president. In earnest they believe that Gaolathe is being side-lined at the negotiations which have now taken full force.
Meanwhile when reached for comment UDC Secretary General, Moeti Mohwasa confirmed that indeed the talks have started although he could not divulge more details.
“Yes it is true we have started the talks but we will update you soon on the matter,” he told this publication briefly.
Mohwasa shared sentiments that BCP Publicity Secretary, Dithapelo Keorapetse concurred when asked by this publication if they have gotten the ball rolling as far as unity talks are concerned.
He said: “yes we have commenced.” The BCP mouth piece added that they should be given peace and time to continue with the talks composedly.
Meanwhile local Political Analyst, Leonard Sesa said that Batswana expected a lot in terms of opposition cooperation before and after the 2014 general Elections but they may have been disappointed as they bore no fruits.
While he averred that the talks could have started earlier, he however commended them that at long last they have officially set foot on the paddle.
“If indeed the talks have arrived, it’s a good move. BCP banks on the talks while UDC indeed must move forward, and am hopeful they may bear good results this time around,” Sesa highlighted.
The academic cautioned that it is good for the opposition especially after numerous delays that they have moved a step forward particularly as he pointed out that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has started campaigning and coming up with strategies to triumph again in the next general Elections.
According to Sesa, all opposition parties’ committees must be up and running and involved; “And since we are talking about different people with different minds, there may be need for counselling to the members well on time especially those against the cooperation if it indeed comes to pass and contest next elections as one unit.”
The UB Political analyst also asserted that the cooperation, however, will not come easy and there has to be serious sacrifices made between the UDC/BCP, while conceding that at the end and going forward it will give the ruling BDP a run for its money and enhance competitive democracy.
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.