Why Ndaba postponed UDC talks
The Secretary General of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Ndaba Gaolathe has last week postponed the commencement of unity talks between the party’s cooperating partners, Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana movement for Democracy (BMD), Botswana People’s Party (BPP), and the willing possible new entrant to the assembly, Botswana Congress Party (BCP).
This development comes at a time when there are reports that the BMD is delaying talks because of its ongoing feud. The chairman of the BMD, Nehemiah Modubule rubbished suggestions that the BMD was delaying talks, “The UDC is better placed to tell Batswana why the talks have not started. It is better you ask the UDC secretary general because he is the one who called off the talks,” said Modubule.
Over time it has been reported that Gaolathe, who is also the president of the BMD was not comfortable with Sidney Pilane being included among the six people who will negotiate on behalf of the BMD. Pilane has been roped into a subcommittee that will advise on constitutional matters along with Tseleng Botlhole on behalf of the BMD. However the two key negotiators for the BMD are chairman, Modubule and the party Vice President, Wynter Mmolotsi. Currently the two do not see eye to eye.
Weekend Post has gathered that Gaolathe called the UDC negotiating teams and informed them that the cooperation talks with the BCP will not commence until after the negotiators have been taken through their paces by a certain Professor Moyo from one of the African Research Institutes. The purpose of the training is to equip the negotiators with the necessary skills to prepare for the talks. While Gaolathe’s intervention could be genuine some within the BMD family see this as a ploy to delay the talks and buy time to fight the Pilane inclusion in the team.
At last week’s meeting Gaolathe intimated on the possibility of talks starting in mid-June this year. But the rate at which issues are emerging within the BMD has thrown this proposed date out of the window.
Contacted for comment, the BCP President Dumelang Saleshando said his party’s negotiators have been ready since April this year, “the time that was agreed for the talks,” he said. According to Saleshando the BCP is not privy to any form of training to be offered to their negotiators, but admitted that he is aware of a proposal to come up with a team building exercise for negotiators. “It was proposed and was to be held last month but it was also postponed,” he said. The BCP President emphasised that the BCP negotiators have been drilled enough and they are ready to start the talks anytime, he also pointed out that they will gladly participate in a team building exercise.
A political analyst and also History lecturer at the University of Botswana, Dr Wazha Morapedi did not mince his words when asked on why the talks are delayed. He pointed out that it is evident that the BMD internal strife is hurting the UDC project. He said it is almost impossible for the talks to start when the other partner is still debating the authenticity of those who could potentially represent their interest. “In this it is the BMD president, Ndaba Gaolathe who is not happy with the inclusion of Sidney Pilane in the negotiating team therefore it is not healthy for the negotiation table,” he said. He said the BMD must first find peace before the BCP and the UDC can talk cooperation.
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Malawi appeals for help over Cyclone Freddy at PAP
As of yesterday evening, the death toll from the Cyclone in Malawi had risen from the initially reported 190 to 225 in a short period of time, over 20 000 people have been displaced, and the worst of fears are yet to come as the fatalities continue to mount. This was reported by a Malawi Member of Parliament attending the Pan African Parliament session in Midrand, South Africa, Hon Steven Mikiya.
Mikiya was giving a statement on behalf of Malawi as the ongoing Pan African Parliament in South Africa.
Mikiya said the Cyclone has wreaked the most havoc in our country’s Southern Region. “The Southern Region, has been hardest hit with widespread heavy rains and strong winds. This caused a rapid rise in water levels and subsequent flooding. Meanwhile, power supply has been disrupted, roads blocked off and rendered impassable and mudslides have also been widely reported,” he said.
He made a special appeal to the PAP: “Where I come from, there is a parable which I would like to share with you which says, “mzako weniweni umamudziwa panthawi ya mavuto.” Simply put, a friend in need is a friend indeed or put loosely, a person who helps at a difficult time is a friend you can rely on.”
Mikiya continued: “Yes! Misfortune has knocked on our door and left in its wake a trail of death and destruction that may take years to fully recover from. However, amidst these difficulties, I have every reason to believe that sometimes when you are in a dark place and think you have been buried, you have actually been planted. My belief, Mr. President, arises out of my faith in this gathering and out of the conviction that it is not coincidental that Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi and Mozambique while the delegations of both countries are here.”
According to Mikiya, the level of destruction, the loss of life, property and the decimation of the entire fabric of established communities has been unprecedented. He noted that all this, is coming at a time when Malawi was starting to show signs of recovery from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that also came hard on the heels of Cyclone Ana and Cyclone Gombe that left a similar trail of devastation and destruction in Malawi and neighbouring countries.
As of Sunday, this week, from the 12th of March, Malawi and Mozambique have been facing the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that made a landfall over Mozambique on Saturday the 11th and reached Malawi by Sunday the 12th of March.
The Malawi legislator said he has absolute faith in the Pan African Parliament, which he described as “a league of nations brought together by a shared ancestry, history, identity as well as our beloved continent which we inhabit”.
Meanwhile, Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a State of Disaster in the affected areas effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families.
Mikiya appealed to the Pan African Parliament drawing “positive” inspiration from Europe which rallied around Turkey after the destructive earthquakes to bring the much-needed relief and humanitarian aid to the people of Turkey.
He said Africa should demonstrate to the world that the African Union and its Organs are not mere talk shows, but effective institutions which stand up when it matters most.
“Alone, it may take us a lifetime to fully recover, but together, in the Pan-Africanist spirit of Ubuntu, our lives and livelihoods will return to a semblance of normality in record time. This is the time to live by our operative mantra, “One Africa, One Voice.” Mikiya concluded.