THE PUBLIC IS PATIENTLY WAITING: Dumelang Saleshando, Duma Boko and Ndaba Gaolathe are expected to say “I DO”.
Ndaba wants UDC parties to apply for membership cards
The call for membership cards described as toxic
The BPP not happy: If we disagree, we retreat
BMD surprised, wants answers on that letter
BNF will not discuss internal party issues publicly
With just three years before the next general elections, Batswana are waiting in anticipation for the finalisation of talks between the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) partners and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). But already contracted members of the UDC are quibbling on a letter instructing them to apply for UDC membership cards.
The latest jolt comes in the form of a requirement by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leadership for all its member parties to make a formal application for the party’s membership cards – a move which is already causing confusion and have left its member parties anxious.
Sometime this week, UDC Secretary General, Ndaba Gaolathe wrote letters to UDC member parties, Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP), informing them to apply to be members of the UDC.
“I am writing to advice that the long delayed roll out of the UDC card as envisaged in the UDC constitution is now underway, subject to your guidance and input in the process. The UDC has succeeded in securing the hardware and software systems to implement the UDC card registration initiative,” Ndaba stated before adding that, “as you will be aware, the UDC constitution requires the issuance of cards by the UDC, which issuance, given the structure of the UDC, needs to take into account the involvement of all the contracting parties as well as members who wish to join as direct members of UDC.”
According to Ndaba, the UDC meeting of 16 August resolved to commence the printing of the cards provided that the contracting parties are advised of this before it is made public and also to allow the leadership of the contracting parties to each secure and coordinate a proportion of the UDC membership forms.
“As part of these first steps, the constitution invites contracting parties to each submit membership applications, as a group member, as many of the key decisions are determined by group members. The UDC will issue your party with a group membership card. The UDC will also issue individual membership cards as of end of August which cards will indicate all the details as normally required by parties including for reference, party affiliation within the UDC or direct membership,” he wrote.
Ndaba further indicated that the process, however, does not prevent parties from issuing their party cards and the hope is that all parties will coordinate their databases with that of the UDC.
Although he has confirmed having written to all UDC party members, BPP maintains it has not received such a letter. In fact its spokesperson, Rasina Rasina stressed that, “we have not received the letter and we are not looking forward to receiving one. In my understanding there is no such a letter and it cannot exist.”
“The UDC is a party formed of goodwill and of doing things better. It is not possible to say that we have to apply for membership because UDC was formed by us (concerned opposition parties),” explained BPP’s spokesperson, Rasina.
Rasina’s argument is that they are already contracted UDC members and therefore do not expect to be called to reapply for membership. He suggested that BPP is a party that “believes in a very simple sphere and we love UDC. We believe that, to run this country we need to engage as much as possible and where we differ we have to engage and when still disagree we retreat.”
Rasina’s point was that, “the thing about national governance is not about winning a Council seat, but rather about what ideas you have to take care of the ordinary people.”
While UDC is yet to set a date to launch the UDC card officially, BMD’s Secretary General, Gilbert Mangole has similar reservations about the introduction of the card.
Describing the letter as potentially toxic, Mangole said: “It is true, we have received the letter but we are yet to meet as the Party to understand the bigger meaning of the contained message. We are perplexed. It came as a surprise. As far as we know, we are full members of UDC, we are its founders and we are still to seek clarity on why we are required to apply for membership cards,” Mangole stated.
UDC’s publicity Secretary who doubles as BNF’s Secretary General, Moeti Mohwasa declined to discuss the issue because, “it is an internal party communiqué.”
UDC’s manifesto and aim, is to oust the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, the only party which has ruled this country, however the constant infighting ahead of elections might cost the opposition heavily at the polls in 2019.
Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).
Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model. BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.
“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.
Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.
Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board. However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.
He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.
“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).
“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.
“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.
Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.
“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.
“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.
WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs. High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.
Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.
The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.
“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.
As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.
“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.
Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.
“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.
The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.
“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.
BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.
“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.
Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.
In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.
“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.
The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.
“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”