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Gov’t recognition of Bayei sparks conflicts

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane

Government’s recognition of Bayei chieftaincy is set to open a can of worms in the Ngamiland district as other tribes now blame government for causing confusion over tribal boundaries in the district.

The most vocal tribe the Bambukushu has expressed displeasure at the manner in which the government drew boundaries for the Bayei tribe which they say is crouching on theirs.

Bambukushu concerned group who have penned a letter to President Ian Khama have also argued that the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane should have consulted them before approving Bayei recognition more so that the Bayei had proposed tribal boundaries where they are minority.

Bayei had allegedly proposed tribal boundaries from Tsau village to Ikoga gate. Another proposed boundary is said to be from Xurube to Gudigwa village.  

The Chairman of Bungu WA Kathimana Association Bafenyang Ngaka said as Bambukushu they feel that the government should have consulted them before approving Bayei’s request to clarify tribal boundaries. Ngaka said that the Bambukushu are numerically superior in every village in the Okavango and it is unfair for the government to recognize Bayei without consulting them.

The chairman posited that Bayei are majority in Seronga and Gumare only and they had proposed boundaries where they are minority.

“Once the Minister approves Bayei chieftainship their Chief will have to relocate from Nokaneng where he is currently based to Gumare which will be the capital town,” Ngaka alleged.

He however made it clear that they don’t have a problem with government recognizing Bayei paramount chief but that they wanted to be consulted and to discuss the tribal boundaries with Bayei. ‘‘We understand that there is no recognition of a chief without tribal territorial boundaries,’’ he said, adding that as Bambukushu they also want to be recognized.

He said as a last resort, they would further want clarification on tribal territory and recognition from government.  

Ngaka also noted that the government must recognize all the tribes in the country as recommended by the Balopi commission. ‘‘A tribe should not go to court for them to be recognized, government must recognize them all to avoid these conflicts.’’

Ngaka also noted that as the association they support the Bambukushu concerned group who have written a letter to President Lieutenant General Dr Ian Khama Seretse Khama demanding their recognition pending the Bayei recognition.

He also noted that the meeting between the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development this month where the Minister will give Bayei feedback about their chieftaincy is also very important to them; hence they should have been informed about it as well.

Clearly the approval of Bayei chieftainship has not only sent bitterness to Batawana tribes who are demanding answers from the Minister it has also sent conflicting messages to other tribes in the district such as Ovaherero, Ovambanderu, Bakgalagadi, Basarwa and others as they are calling on government to recognise all tribes in the country at once.

Majority of these tribes have criticized the Tribal Territorial Act for being outdated. Their arguments are that the whole Tribal territories Act has long been overtaken by events and no longer applicable in any practical way one can think of.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021

President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.

While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.

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