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BDP MPs suspect opposition hand in train fiasco

Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Francistown East, Buti Billy have laid the blame for BR Express false start on opposition parties’ Parliamentarians.

Billy said that the,“BR Express malfunction might be a result of a political sabotage as some opposition Parliamentarians are celebrating the misfortune as it is a gain to their side and it is important for the Minister to observe that.”

Even when opposition MP’s leapt in consternation for Billy to withdraw his remarks, the Francistowner would not budge and continued that, “I think they are also happy that with my clever eye I managed to realise that they are happy.”

Billy also said that, “I do not think the train security is enough and if an individual inputs water instead of diesel how would we know that it is water?” he probed. He also said that the malfunction warrants a proper investigation into what actually transpired.

Minister Mabeo also said that the fact that Gaborone Central MP Dr Phenyo Butale as well as Opposition Chief Whip Wynter Mmolotsi made allegations to the effect that the BR Express is second hand was suspect and said Facebook accounts that have been propagating such news might actually be theirs.

“I am suspicious because the utterances that you have just made to the effect that BR Express is not new are being propagated on Facebook so it might actually be your accounts,” Mabeo jabbed.

Mabeo also said that he has witnessed the train in the manufacturing process and contrary to floating opinion BR Express is in point of fact a first-hand train.

The minister said BR Express went haywire between Mahalapye and Palapye after the power van engines which supply power for the air conditioners, lights and rest rooms shut down.

He said that investigations would later uncover that diesel in the power car was contaminated with water and the cause is still being investigated.

Mabeo continued that the fuel was drained from the fuel tanks in Francistown and Gaborone and when the problem persisted the train was grounded, resulting in the cancellation of the northbound voyage.

He said that Botswana Railways then bused people who had already bought tickets to their destinations and reimbursed a further 146 passengers.

He continued that Botswana Railways has continued to send coaches to Mafikeng every day since the 25th of March where Transnet has a workshop and that both train sets are still at a commissioning stage and have not yet been issued with a final acceptance certificate.  

Nata/Gweta MP Polson Majaga also cast his doubts on the security of the train saying that the stops that it makes in the many stations leaves it vulnerable to saboteurs in the traditional transport sector.

The procurement of BR Express coaches has been ceaselessly marred by allegations of corruption and it has been revealed that Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have investigated BR and some top executives have had their gadgets confiscated while they spent a night in jail.

“This serves to confirm that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is currently conducting investigations on Botswana Railways. The investigations have been ongoing for more than a week now,” Botswana Railways CEO Dominic Ntwaagae wrote in a memo to his staff in the first week of March.

He continued: “We wish to inform staff that as an organisation, being owned by government, it is expected and appreciated that from time to time government agencies mandated to carry out such exercises may visit us to ensure that processes and procedures are dully followed,” Ntwaagae further expressed in his ‘call for calm’ memo to staff. 

He further indicated that his organisation should be held to account in all its dealings vowing to be supportive to “the ongoing investigations, to clear all allegations of corruption against the organisation”.

BR Express was launched amid pomp and fanfare on the 22nd of March and the malfunctioning episode has become a source of embarrassment to the ruling BDP government as it appears to confirm a trend of failed state mega-projects.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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