The lawyers representing ten Eritrean football players who are seeking political asylum in Botswana got the shock of their lives this week when the players told them that they want nothing to do with them or the Movement for Democracy and Human rights who stopped their repatriation to their country last week through an interim court order.
The lawyers, Dick Bayford and his partner, Joao Salbany discovered that the footballers had been intimidated by the Botswana government and made to believe that the lawyers and the human rights organisation were detrimental to their application for asylum.
Bayford has revealed that the footballers said some five men, suspected to be agents from the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) visited them at the Francistown detention camp for illegal immigrants, the very night they were detained.
The officers mislead the footballers into believing that the lawyers and the human rights organisation would delay their applications for asylum if they allow them to take the matter to court. Further the footballers were made to write a declaration in their language that they do not want any legal representation or anyone else to intervene in their application for asylum.
“After we introduced ourselves to them, they communicated to us through one of them who speaks fluent English that they do not want us to represent them. They said the government officials have told them that they were processing their applications and that the only stumbling block was the human rights organisation the lawyers. They said the date set by lawyers for their case to be heard in court was a tactic to delay their application,” Bayford explained in a press briefing in Gaborone, Friday morning.
Bayford added the officers allegedly threatened the footballers that they risked rotting in the facility if they accepted the lawyers and the human rights organisation to take their case to court.
It took them five uninterrupted hours for the lawyers to persuade the footballers that they are the ones who were actually acting on their best interest to stop the government from repatriating them back to their country.
“They said they were confused because the government is saying one thing and we are saying the other. They did not know why it was important to make an urgent application,” Bayford further explained.
In fact the centre for illegal immigrants in Francistown was likened to a maximum prison where there is complete blackout of news. Bayford suspects the suspected DIS agents could have taken advantage of the news blackout to misdirect the detained footballers.
He says the footballers have now revoked the declaration they made through the government officials and now wants legal representation in this matter.
“They know the ambassador has disposed and punched holes in their passports, but they were not aware of what the government position was in regards to their asylum applications,” Bayford added.
Meanwhile Bayford says they intend to uncover the identity of the men who intimidated the players as they acted unlawfully and in contempt of court. He says they also would compel the government to equally make a declaration that it would never again intimidate, mislead and coerce their clients into making wrong decisions.
The government through the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi had aired its wish to repatriate the footballers back to Eretria. The contention is that it does not want to be seen to be meddling in the political affairs of that country.
However the human rights organisations strongly believe that it would not be safe for the young men to be taken back there given possible dire punishment that could be unleashed and inflicted on them by their government.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.