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Boko unopposed for BNF presidency

BNF President, Duma Boko

Botswana National Front (BNF) President, Duma Boko is set to be unopposed for presidency at the party’s July congress to be held in Francistown.

The latest circulating lobby lists indicate that Boko has the support of both camps, and will be unchallenged for the second time since being elected in 2010. But his deputy Same Bathobakae does not command the same gravitas; she must fight off a determined hopeful in Dr Rev Prince Dibeela, the former Parliamentary candidate for Molabowabojang/Mmathethe.

The two lobby groups are said to be headed by the long serving BNF Publicity Secretary, Moeti Mohwasa and Shaun Nthaile who is an incumbent Member of Parliament.

Mohwasa’s lobby list is predominately made up of serving members of the central committee while Nthaile’s team is predominantly made of those who are hoping to make it for the first time into the central committee.

Mohwasa’s lobby list supports Bathobakae for Vice President while Nthaile’s lobbyist is rooting for Dr Rev Dibeela as the party’s number two.

Bathobakae first became BNF Vice President in 2012 following the resignation of Isaac Mabiletsa from the same position. Mabiletsa joined another opposition party, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

In 2013 Bathobake defeated Dr Elmon Tafa to defend her position. She became the first female from opposition ranks to win a Parliamentary seat in a general election, and the second female to win Parliamentary seat after Habaudi Hubona won a 2013 by-election in Francistown.

Meanwhile, Dr Dibeela is credited for playing an instrumental role in the opposition cooperation talks which led to the formation of the UDC. He is a long time BNF member. Dr Dibeela has been one of the civic leaders involved in facilitating the cooperation of opposition parties since 2001.  He was a member of the Committee for the Strengthening of Democracy which sought to bring unity to opposition parties.

In this role he acted as one of the facilitators of the PACT, he also worked closely with Cde Moupo, Cde Mpho and Cde Lepetu Setshwaelo, Cde Bernard Balikani as Mediator in cases where the PACT arrangement was faltering.  As a recognized political player he was regularly invited as speaker to different political events.  Dr Dibeela and Mr Mpotokwane were also co-conveners of the talks of Presidents in 2006, which collapsed after a short spell.

Dr Dibeela became Synod Secretary of the UCCSA at a very young age.  He rose in the leadership of the Church and worked as a Mission Consultant in Leicester, England, served as UCCSA General Secretary for 8 years based in Johannesburg until 2013 overseeing mission work in 5 countries.

During that time he also served as a Moderator (President) of the Council for World Mission, a global organization of 15 million Congregational Christians across the world.  In this role he was overseeing mission work of Congregational Churches in Africa, the Caribbean, East and South Asia, Europe and the Pacific.  He is well respected in religious circles internationally including in the World Council of Churches.

KESUPILE WILL NOT DEFEND BNF CHAIRMANSHIP

Several candidates are lining up to take up the chairmanship position, currently held by Abram Kesupile. The Kanye South MP has indicated intention not to defend his seat.

BNF Secretary General, Tapiso Kgosikoma, who was elected at the 2013 congress will not be seeking re-election for the position but has shown interest in contesting for the vacant chairmanship position.

Former Gaborone City Council Mayor, Harry Mothei has also launched his bid for the position of party chairman. Other candidates for the position of chairman include; former BNF 2009 Parliamentary candidate for Gaborone West South (now Gaborone Bonnington South) Moses Bantsi, Kgagamatso Kebiditswe, and Abigail Mogalakwe.

Long serving member of the central committee and party spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa intends to challenge for the position of the Secretary General where he is expected to lock horns with Jwaneng/Mabutsane MP Shaun Ntlhaile.

The position of the Treasurer has not attracted many contestants with MP for Ghanzi North, Noah Salakae being the only candidate so far. Incumbent Treasurer Aubrey Lesaso has indicated his decision not to contest for the position again.

The position of the Deputy Secretary General will see a contest between Tona Mooketsi and incumbent, Shadikoo Shampoo.

Two candidates, Benjamin Kelepang and former unionist Justin Hunyepa have expressed interest to replace Mohwasa as party spokesperson.  Hunyepa is currently UDC’s Labour Secretary.

Party ideologist Dr Elmon Tafa, who challenged for the position of Vice President at the last congress will now contest for Secretary for Political Education. Tafa has previously held the position of Secretary for Political Education.   

The BNF Youth League which also goes for an elective congress in March is polarised along the two main lobby groups. This publication has established that the Richard Khumoekae team supports the lobby list lead by Nthaile while Kago Mokotedi’s team supports a team led by Mohwasa.

However both teams support Boko for Presidency. Boko who assumed the reins in 2010 has been credited with reviving the BNF.

Boko ascended to the party presidency after beating former party youth league President Gabriel Kanjabanga. Before the congress, the duo fought a protracted court battle, with Kanjabanga challenging Boko’s membership and his eligibility to contest the elections. The High Court however ruled in Boko’s favour.

Boko was again elected unopposed at the Gantsi 2013 Congress, despite efforts by a youthful Poloko Monang to put his name forward albeit failing to garner support for nomination from the regions.

The Gaborone Bonnington North legislator has also been helped by what is widely perceived as much improved electoral success, after he helped to co-found Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) which garnered a historic 17 seats in Parliament in the last general elections.

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Botswana confirms new COVID-19 variant

17th May 2021
covid19

Botswana health officials have confirmed the new COVOD-19 variant, which was first found in India. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has through a press statement informed members of the public that a new COVID-19 variant (B.1.617), first discovered in India. The Indian variant was confirmed in Botswana on 13 May 2021.

According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.

“As at 16 May 2021, the B. 1. 617 variant was confirmed in two (2) people. The clients are currently receiving medical care and remain stable with no life-threatening symptoms. The two (2) cases were part of 383 people (both Batswana and some Indian nationals) who were tested for COVID-19. From this number, 43 tested positive, with two (2) showing the B. 1. 617 variant as already alluded to. Contact tracing has been expanded in line with COVID-19 protocols. All contacts and confirmed cases have been evacuated to facility based quarantine and isolation respectively, for close monitoring,” Nyanga narrated.

The World Health Organization recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.

Meanwhile in the wake of Botswana’s confirmation of the Indian variant, Nyanga reminded the public of the government intervention to control the introduction of new variants of public health concern into the country. He stated that all those who have travelled or transited through areas of high risk as previously communicated on 3rd May 2021 upon return shall immediately quarantine in a central area to be identified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness for a period not exceeding ten (10) days; Repeat Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after seven (7) days of quarantine and be discharged as per the outcome of the results.

He said the requirements are complementary to the mandatory requirements of producing on arrival a negative PCR test not older than 72hrs from the time the sample was collected

“The public is advised to remain vigilant and minimize the spread of COVID-19 by following the already outlined preventative measures such as washing of hands with soap or use of a hand sanitizer, wearing of face masks, avoiding crowded places/social distancing and avoiding non-essential movement,” Nyanga said.

The India variant – officially called B.1.617.2 – is one of four mutated versions of coronavirus which have been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

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Khama lawyers dismiss BDP’s MacD

17th May 2021
former President Lt Gen Ian Khama

The lawyers representing former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, Ramalepa Attorneys have come forth dismissing a response letter penned down by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activist MacDonald Peloetletse after he was slapped with a P1.5 million lawsuit for defamation of their client.

Tebogo Tladi, an attorney at Ramalepa, said last week Thursday Peloetletse took to social media to publish a substantively false, wrongful and unlawful statement about Khama. MacDonald Peloetletse’s commentary which was posted on Gabz FM News page reads, “I am a former soldier. Everything former President SKI Khama said here is a LIE. In fact, soldiers suffered more under Khama than under his predecessors.

He actually stole money that the UN had paid to the soldiers who went for the operations and paid them less than a quarter of what was actually due to them.  “Unhappy soldiers took the BDF to court and won, the BDF is still struggling to pay the debts! Khama can fool some people, but not all the people and not all the time.

“In fact many soldiers, serving, retired and those that resigned and were in the operations during Khama’s time get even more annoyed to such disrespectful statements by Ian Khama.” Khama’s lawyer says the impugned statement was published with the intention to injure his client (Khama) in his personality rights, good name and dignity, further indicating that the statement has damaged his good reputation.

“We have therefore been instructed by Client to demand, as we hereby do, that you publish on the same forum a retraction and a full and unconditional apology to Client within three days of receipt of this letter- and that you deliver such apology in a formal letter to the Office of the Former President, Dr Khama. In the event that you have not compiled with this demand by close of business on Monday 10th May 2021, our Client will assume that you have refused to comply with this demand.”

To top it all off, Khama demands that Peloetletse pay him P1.5 million in damages for defamation. “Furthermore, we hold instructions to demand as we hereby do, that you pay our Client damages for defamation in the sum of P1, 500,000.00 within seven days of receipt of this letter.” In the event that Peloetletse fails to pay the amount of damages demanded by Khama, Tladi says they will institute legal proceedings for the recovery of the aforesaid damages.

In his response letter addressed to Ramalepa Attorneys, Peloetletse said that he requests enlightenment and clarification that he be provided with proof that the allegations and comments which they attribute to him were indeed authored by him and that the platform which the comments were placed was not hacked.

“Please also advise if whether your clients has been endowed with a “special particular privilege status” that restricts the citizens of this country from commenting or responding to public statements made by your client in the course of political discourse especially when made on public forum and relate to matters of general public concern. (I trust that your brilliant legal mind is well informed with respect to the jurisprudence in such matters)”.

Peloetletse also said he would like to share with the attorneys a video which was posted on a public forum. “Please listen carefully to the conversations and discussion herein and advice if possibly such discussions form a reasonable basis for a justifiably rebuttal by any Motswana Citizen to the public pronouncements and defamatory statements made by your client about our government (bearing in mind of course a citizens constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression).’’

Consulted for further comment on the matter on Thursday after receiving Peloetletse’s response, Khama’s attorney Tebogo Tladi said the letter doesn’t hold any water. “The only way out for him is to prove the truth of the allegations on his comment or deny publication. He does not answer substantively to the defamation and does not respond to the demand of an apology or payment of damages.

So his letter really contains largely matters irrelevant to the substance of the letter of demand. His response in fact presents no legally cognizable defence at all- it would appear he responded without the benefit of legal advice, which would not be prudent for such an important case. So we will proceed to issue summons and wait to see what defences he will plead in court.’’

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Inside the multi-million Dollar Kazungula Bridge business

17th May 2021
kazungula bridge

Botswana and Zambia this week celebrated the opening of a multi-million Dollar infrastructural project, the Kazungula Bridge, projected to contribute around P100 million annually for Botswana. This project comes after the signing of the 2012 Agreement between the two countries to construct a bridge that would ease movement of goods.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the Kazungula Bridge will open avenues for improved trade, job creation and economic diversification in both countries. Further, the Bridge will significantly accelerate Southern African Development Committee (SADC) regional integration agenda which Botswana and Zambia are vigorously pursuing.

“By growing our strategic partnerships through this project, we have improved the development and competitiveness of our economies to attract more private sector investment, thereby, supporting our efforts to create employment, especially for the burgeoning youth,” Masisi said at the opening ceremony in Kazungula on Monday.

The Kazungula Bridge comprises a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River, directly linking Botswana and Zambia. It has One-Stop-Border Post facilities on both sides, which will enhance the operational efficiency at entry points, replicated on both sides of the boarder.

The Bridge was originally conceived as a critical link in the African North-South Corridor under the African Union’s New Partnership (NEPAD) for Africa’s Development programme. It has since evolved to encompass a multimodal transport plan under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

The PIDA programme, which encompasses liberalisation of air travel, rail links, road, water and all other modes of transport has only one objective: to unite the States of Africa in order to foster trade on the continent

“Connectivity of our nations will in no small measure, promote people to people interactions and uplifts their standard of living. I am pleased to state that the completion of this project is a clear demonstration of our commitment to PIDA.”

The 260 million US Dollar Kazungula Bridge was commissioned by Zambian President, Edgar Lungu and President Masisi. President Lungu said the bridge was a monumental effort linking Zambia internally and externally to ease the movement of goods and services.

“I have held talks with my counterpart in Botswana that this project must run daily up to 22 hours as soon as possible and you the technocrats must not play ping-pong with us after making these public procurements,” Lungu said at the official opening in Kazungula.

For his part, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said the project was tandem with the Africa Union (AU) goals and priority areas for Agenda 2063 which called for a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

KAZUNGULA FERRY

The new Kazungula Bridge replaces the Kazungula Ferry, a pontoon ferry across the 400-metre-wide Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia. It was one of the largest ferries in South-Central Africa, having a capacity of 70 tonnes.

In 2003 the ferry was the site of a disaster when a severely overloaded Zambian truck capsized one of the pontoons and 18 people drowned. The accident was blamed on the lack of weighbridges in Zambia to check the weight of trucks.

In August 2007, the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to construct a bridge at the site to replace the ferry. The existence of a short boundary of about 150 meters between Zambia and Botswana was apparently agreed to during various meetings involving Heads of State and officials from all four States in the 2006-2010 period.

The route for this new bridge crosses the boundary without entering Zimbabwe and Namibia. Zimbabwe already has a bridge into Zambia at Victoria Falls, 70KM from Kazungula. Namibia on the other hand has a bridge into Zambia at Katima Mulilo about 150KM upriver.

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