Residents disappointed with Justice Rannowane’s ruling
International human rights organisation, Survival international has shown interest in joining minority tribal groups of Ranyane settlement in the Gantsi District in their legal battle for restoration of free services.
The Ranyane residents, mostly of the Basarwa tribe revealed during a kgotla meeting last Saturday that S.I has contacted them through a telephone soon after the Gaborone High court dismissed their case last week Wednesday and expressed its intention to help them with the appeal.
“Survival wants to join in our case and I am saying we should allow them to help us,” suggested Kaashe Gadisele, a spokesperson for Basarwa tribe in this matter. His suggestion was met with ululations from other residents.
Gadisele is a resident of Ranyane and was among the 114 applicants in the High court case which was dismissed last week. He and all other Ranyane residents have already instructed their attorney, Onalethata Kambai of Kambai Attorneys to appeal against the government. Kambai is working with Joram Matomela of Matomela Attorneys on the case.
“The matter has to be taken forward. We want to face the government and its sources again and tell the Judge of the injustices we are being subjected to,” lamented Heebe Karakubis who is the wife to the settlement’s chief.
Ranyane residents maintain that the government, through the Gantsi District Council is denying them basic needs and shares of the country’s economy as a way of forcing them out of their ancestral land. They suspect that government has hidden interest in their patch of land which is sandwiched or surrounded by big commercial farms.
“The conduct of government is suspect. Why single us out from all other settlements and deny us services! Of all areas in the country, why make Ipelegeng and water temporary services in Ranyane? They say we are in a wildlife movement area, aren’t all these farms located in the same area as Ranyane or have they built a special passage for these animals!,” chipped in another resident named Tlhogo.
Free water services and Ipelegeng were stopped in Ranyane around 2011 and 2013 when the Gantsi District Council decided to relocate the residents to other neighbouring settlements such as Bere. The contention by the Council is that Ranyane is a wildlife protected area.
The forced relocation was stopped through a High court order, but since the bush people of Ranyane have failed to get the government to supply them with fuel for the borehole engine that waters the whole settlement which has an estimated population of more than 200 people. The 2011 population census counted about 163 people who were staying in Ranyane then.
In the meeting the residents poured cold water in last week’s judgement and insisted that their people especially Basarwa were natural environmentalists who would never interfere with animal movements if there were any at all in their area. They further contended that they knew how to take care of the bush as it fed them.
The village chief Nxere Phuti indicated that the assistance of Survival International in their case would therefore be more needed now than never before as they appeal the case against government.
The chief says their case is that of a minority group which has been suffering from abuse, oppression and discrimination by the government of the day over a number of years for no justified reasons.
“This whole issue is about discrimination. The thing is, the current President found laws already in place, the laws that were created by his father, Seretse (Sir Seretse Khama), the laws which were not discriminative and now that he is dead, nobody is following on his legacy,” Phuti put it rhetorically before adding that his people were not animals and would not allow the government to keep moving them from one place to the next as if they were creating new kraals for them.
“We are not nomads. We can no longer keep moving from one place to the other as if we have no brains of our own. We no longer live in the old days. Of course we agreed with government that we are staying in a wildlife area, but we refuse to be moved to Bere. We cannot just rise and go, leaving our ancestral land as if we were herded animals,” Phuti further stated and added that, “in the old days we lead a nomadic life because we were looking for water and we never had cemeteries like we have here. The way I see it, this country’s laws wants us to be like animals, forever wandering in the wilderness!”
At the time of going to print Kambai was yet to confirm the involment of S.I in the matter.
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.