Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President Ndaba Gaolathe has revealed that the party will bounce back from the impasse which has engulfed movement since the controversial re-admission of Sidney Pilane.
In an exclusive interview with this publication, Gaolathe highlighted that BMD has previously faced more serious crisis such as losing a high number of its founding members who retraced their foot step to Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), the party BMD split from.
“There was an epoch that we lost many of our key personnel at the leadership level, high ranking members of the NEC including two treasurer generals, head of mobilisation and later the Vice President of the Party. The pundits enunciated our death, and the public perception was at the lowest ebb,” he said.
Guma Moyo, a man who was one the party’s financiers, Botsalo Ntuane, the party Vice President, Odirile Motlhale and Pilane are some of the key members who left the party within two years after it formation, casting doubts over its future.
“This is why my faith in the BMD’s ability to bounce back is unshaken, because of these kind of values and the people that form it. This is why it is not possible to wish the BMD away, and this is why it is not about to fade away,” he stated.
Gaolathe has denied reports that he and his supporters wants the duo of Gilbert Mangole and Nehemiah Modubule, secretary general and chairman respectively removed from their positions at the looming special congress.
“A vital lesson we teach at the BMD is that leaders have no choice but to work with everyone, even with those they feel strongly they cannot work with. This is a characteristic that all successful organisations have, and that is why as President of the BMD it came to me as a surprise to learn that I plan to evict the secretary general and chairman from the party,” he said.
The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Secretary General explained that he does not have the constitutional power to do so, the congress being the only organ vested with such power.
“This means congress could well decide to evict its President, or even its Vice President, or both if they felt this was necessary. The beauty about our movement is that people understand their power, and we trust them to use it judiciously,” he stated.
He further stated that the fact that a president of a party has an obligation to work with colleagues in the high structures must not be mistaken with the idea that a president should, over the course of the movement’s work, overlook the role that many other talented non-office bearers can play.
“Our movement is not rigid; we are open to creativity and willing to vaccinate our movement with excellence. The criticism that this practice amounts to alienation of office bearers and structures by the presidency of our movement is not new, nor will it go away, but it does not make it gospel,” he stated.
The Gaborone Bonnington South lawmaker narrates that as early as in 2010, the NEC exhibited a reluctance to endorse the then new policy framework that the presidency and policy office had helped craft.
When Gaolathe, then party policy chief, and the late party leader Gomolemo Motswaledi could not get their way in the NEC they embarked on presidential tour to bring members on board.
“This trip lasted many weeks and took us to as far-flung places as Etsha, Nokaneng, Ikoga and several other villages across Botswana. In the end, the policies were submitted to the party’s Policy Assembly, and whole-heartedly endorsed despite the reluctance of the then NEC,” he recalled.
“This again demonstrates that the BMD is a party run not by elite, but by the mass of ordinary people. This is a culture and spirit that guarantees that no one, no matter how high up in the ladders of the hierarchy, will ever be able to hold our party at ransom.”
Gaolathe and his Vice President, Wynter Mmolotsi have embarked on what they call presidential tour to speak to BMD members about the current debacle in the party.
“This is a tour that will reveal to our members that a whole new world of opportunity awaits our party, and it is for our generation to seize this opportunity and bring true change to our nation.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.
“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).