Immediate former Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Margaret Nasha has set the record straight saying she will “ensure” that the opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) emerges victorious in the 2019 General Elections.
“At this point in time, every party’s aim is to win elections in 2019. And it doesn’t come to you on a silver platter. You have to work hard to get there. That is going to be my pre-occupation. To ensure that UDC wins in 2019,” revealed Nasha in an interview with Weekend Post this week.
In the 2014 elections the UDC won 17 Members of Parliament seats out of the 29 (of 57) required to form a government. Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has been in power uninterrupted since first elections in 1965.
UDC this week assigned former BDP legislator and long-time cabinet minister Nasha the role of “advisor”, a key office in the UDC and its affiliates – an important assignment that UDC leader Gaolathe Ndaba enunciated, “we are confident she will dispatch with distinction.”
Although the historical first woman speaker of parliament said she has not started the responsibility yet, she explained to this publication that “an advisory role really means exactly that. You discuss, analyse situations and take informed decisions.”
Perceived by many as the iron lady of Botswana politics, Nasha abruptly resigned from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) through a short-worded letter dated 28
January. “This letter serves to notify you of my decision to resign from the Botswana Democratic Party, which resignation takes effect immediately,” she wrote in a brief communique.
In welcoming her, Ndaba posits that the influential woman politician had pleaded to join as an “ordinary member and activist,” however some in the party are still suspicious that she may contest for the UDC presidency against the incumbent Duma Boko – an accusation which she simply dismissed.
“No. I wouldn’t. I have been around political circles. I know what that would entail. I am content with activism and advising,” she stated briefly when questioned if she had any presidential ambitions.
Conversely in her controversial biography released on March 2014 titled: “Madam Speaker, Sir: Breaking the Glass Ceiling, One Woman’s Struggles”, Nasha hinted on her presidential aspirations.
She recalls in the book the one day when she was addressing a political rally, when one gentleman grabbed the microphone and enquired on her presidential tinkles going around to which she answered in the affirmative.
Nasha described how she felt that moment in the book: “I looked at him and thought to myself, obviously, this is just an ordinary citizen who has been drilled by someone to believe that this is a troublesome woman who harbours the unthinkable thoughts and dreams of one day taking God-given power from men.”
She continued: “I decided not to be harsh in my response but to be direct with him while getting the message through to those chauvinistic souls out there, who think that positions of power and responsibility are the preserve of the male species.”
In addition, the eccentric woman’s biography also punched holes on Khama’s administration and leadership style, and marked in earnest what would appear as a sour relationship between the two. Nasha continued with what her party regarded as a misdemeanor during her first term and subsequently in her bid to secure the second term.
During her first term, she vigorously advocated for the independence of parliament from the clutches of often executive intrusion. The BDP under Khama then took Nasha to the woodshed. A strategy was hatched to overthrow her through a vote in parliament – in favour of current speaker Gladys Kokorwe.
“I knew I was going to be voted out more than a year before the event. By the time of the famous constitutional court case, I had long moved my belongings from the official residence. You cannot therefore attribute my move to that. Following that event, I waited and watched. I have come to the conclusion that BDP doesn’t need me. But there are some who need my services,” the maverick former Gaborone Central law maker pointed out.
When probed to specifically mention who recruited her to the UDC fold, Nasha could only say that the “UDC leadership” paid her many visits, and “nothing would deter them”.
She added, “…that too gave me an opportunity to ask many difficult and information seeking questions which helped me understand a lot of the issues that members of the public very often ask about.”
Meanwhile the former BDP MP stated that she has reservations about Vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi being the next president. “I am not privy to what the BDP is doing or planning to put Mr Masisi there as a contender. Therefore I cannot intelligently comment on that,” she said.
Inside the resilient UDC, the former speaker of parliament said she “feels good, positive and energized.”
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.
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.
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.