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BDP defends Gov’t silence on Burundi

Burundi President, Pierre Nkurunziza

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane has defended Botswana’s silence with regard to its stand on Burundi affairs despite its renowned decisive condemnation of human rights violations.  

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has not issued or stated Botswana’s position on the ongoing Burundi amid reports of the country losing interest in the affairs of the African Union (AU). “I cannot speak for the ministry, but remember President Lt Gen Ian Khama after his inauguration as SADC Chairman spoke against events in Burundi,” he said. “In that sense he was representing party and government sentiment.”  

Ntuane told this publication that it is impossible for Botswana to lose interest in the affairs of either Southern African Development Committee (SADC) or AU. “The day Botswana loses interest in AU, SADC or any continental body will be the day it ceases to be an African country,”

“Ordinarily as BDP we dont respond on foreign policy matters. We defer to government to make pronouncements on such matters but we are very clear on the situation in Burundi,” he said.
“BDP is opposed to any term extensions beyond the prescribed two terms. We don’t support term extensions.”

Viewed as an epitome of peace and democracy, Botswana has been known for its uncompromising hard-line stand in condemning human rights violations, a praise it earned during the reign of Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe and Phandu Skelemani as foreign affairs ministers.

Ntuane expressed that BDP believe “3 termism” is regressive and reverses the gains Africa has made over the years in its democratisation drive. “Look at what is happening to Burundi after a period of peace and stability; all because of political greed and the notion that countries cannot survive if certain leaders are not in charge,”  he stated.

The BDP secretary general also explained that the party condemn the violence perpetrated against opponents of the 3rd term in that country and wish for a speedy resolution to the crisis. “But any resolution cannot happen without addressing President Nkurunziza's ill-advised 3 term,” he remarked.

Pierre Nkurunziza, a former rebel, prompted demonstrations when he announced in April 2015 that he would run for a contentious third term, a development which is against the 2005 peace deal that ceased the a decade civil war which resulted in the death of about 300,000 lives.

Nkurunziza has rejected AU’s intervention measures to bring 5000 troops to Burundi to restore peace and stability to the country. Nkurinziza threaten to respond to such development with attack for not respect his country’s borders.

Botswana had in the past maintained its foreign policy of speaking against gross human rights violations which resulted in fall-outs with governments such of Zimbabwe.

In 2008, Botswana boycotted South African Development Committee (SADC) summit owing to the fact that ‘illegitimate’ Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was invited to be part of the summit. Botswana had publicly announced that it did not recognise Mugabe as the legitimate president of Zimbabwe following his victory in an election that was widely condemned as a sham.

Botswana would later change its stance and embraced Mugabe after a compromise deal allowed both Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangarai to form government of national unity.

Botswana has also pledged to arrest Sudan president Omar Al Bashir and hand him to ICC should he come to Botswana. This often placed Botswana at loggerhead with other African countries.

In 2013, following the bloody Kenya presidential elections, Skelemani stated that newly elected president Uhuru Kenyatta would not be allowed to set foot in Botswana if did not honour the ICC and answer to crime against humanity charges laid against him.

Skelemani’s remarks would cause some stir and threaten Botswana’s diplomatic relations Botswana would again make up and apologised to Kenyatta for its earlier remarks. Kenyatta would then later visit Botswana in an effort to bolster relations.

Recently Botswana is feeling increasingly isolated after breaking ranks with a lot of African countries on the decision of AU members state to pull out from the International Criminal Court.
The 54 nation AU has urged its members to "speak with one voice" against criminal proceedings at the ICC instituted on sitting presidents AU member states.

Last year at United Nations summit Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi reaffirmed Botswana’s unwavering support and commitment to the ICC and what it stands for.
Botswana remains the sole country in SADC which is against pulling out of ICC.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021
Kebonang

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
boko-and-khama

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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