The provincial government of the North West in South Africa is funding a multimillion Pula research project in Botswana called the National Liberation Heritage Route (NLHR) in collaboration with North Department of Arts and Culture, Botswana Tourism and the Department of Museums and Art Gallery to trace, track, assess, identify, document and protect and propose for listing to the South African Heritage Resources Agency, sites which represent indigenous Africans Wars of Resistance and the struggle against apartheid.
A source close to the project Kopano Lekoma of Pitsane and ex-Umkhonto We Siswe combatant says, the project is an initiative of the African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states, as represented in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
The research project will on the other known as the Liberation Heritage Route and which may ultimately be made available to UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in order to preserve an important period in the history of South African liberation struggle which may also be made available for packaging as attractive tourism products.
The 2005 UNESCO World Heritage Committee 33rd General General Conference foregrounded the "Roads to Independence – African Liberation Struggles" specifically recommended the collection, documentation, conservation and commemoration of Africa's heritage and experience accumulated during the struggles for independence.
This project is a manifestation of this ideal and represents Botswana leg of the South African Liberation Heritage Route under the auspices of the North West Provincial Government.â€¨â€¨The NLHR focuses on the SADC member states generally whose liberation struggles had global, continental and regional dimensions.
This project will result in a series of sites that in combination expresses the key aspects of the South African liberation experience and the Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of global history( World Heritage Council, 2009).
This project complies with the vision of UNESCO and the AU, that the NLHR should first cover South Africa and ultimately encompass the rest of the SADC members states of Angola, Botswana ,Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with a potential of identifying other African states outside the SADC region.â€¨â€¨
The Roads to Independence African Liberation Heritage Project is therefore, a multi-country programme which acknowledges the importance indigenous Afriican resistance and the role of the liberation movements to the process of decolonization of the African continent as well as the role played by African countries in providing material and moral support to the liberation movements which led to the struggle for independence in Southern Africa, according to fomer First Secretary at the South African High Commission Nthaniel Serache. â€¨â€¨A significant part of this history stands to be lost unless it is collected, documented and made accessible to the public.
The project attempts to document and recognize the contribution of people and institutions to the liberation of the continent (Wadaw, 2013). Many of the personalities who were instrumental in the prosecution of the liberation struggle are no longer alive and those who are still alive have not documented their experiences in any detail.
There is therefore a gap due to the lack of transmission of information and knowledge to the younger generations. The project will therefore bridge the knowledge and information gap, says Dikgang Mopelwa, former South African High Commissioner to Botswana.
â€¨â€¨MEC for Arts and Culture Ms Tebogo Modise While recognizing the role of the liberation movements in the struggle for independence in Africa, the role of civil society organizations and ordinary citizens who contributed to the achievement of independence in various countries on the continent in often not recognized and there are still many liberation veterans past and present who have not been adequately recognized.
Consequently, the significance of the project goes beyond the singular acknowledgement of the role of the liberation movements, to a broader recognition of the role of African people and institutions in the attainment of freedom for the continent. It is a broader vision that informs the project and positions. It is a key element in the realization of the African Union vision.â€¨
Modise says, the project is viewed in the context of transnational serial nomination and part of the SADC serial nomination. The project is also based on the Decisions of the 32nd World Heritage Committee(Quebec City, Canada, 2 – 10 July 2008, item 10, "Global Strategy for a Representative, Balanced and Credible World Heritage List (WHC 08/32 COM IOB) as well as the African Position Paper on the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention adopted by the 29th Session of the World Heritage Committee, Durban, 2005, the Sixth Ordinary Session of the AU Summit of the Heads of States held in Khartoum on January 2096.
The project also addresses issues elucidated in paragraph 7 of COHC's Decision 32, COM 10 B especially providing a list of existing serial properties on the WH list and calling on state parties to submit a list of "all known and potential future nominations (whc.unesco.org) â€¨â€¨She says the research project will record and celebrate the neglected history of the African support for the liberation struggle in other African states.
The African liberation movement and the coordination work of Liberation Committee of the OAU is the single most influential factor in modern day Africa. As such it demands urgent attention lest an important part of the African history is lost. â€¨â€¨Much of the history was not documented or records of the clandestine nature of the struggle were destroyed to ensure the secrecy of the activists.
Many of the living figures are now approaching old age and there is an urgent need to record their oral histories – it is a race against time. In particular the role of women in the struggle needs to be documented, including the sacrifices made to support the activists.
Many internally and in the region who also played a critical role in support of the liberation struggle have not been acknowledged and out of the public domain, according to Modise â€¨â€¨Cultural heritage can include tangible and intangible things. The form may include monuments, buildings, sites, works of nature and works of man (UNESCO, 1972; Throsby, 1997).
The intangible includes traditions and customs (Snowball and Courtney). Heritage industry gives rise to cultural capital (Throsby, 2003) based on market and non-market values placed upon it or physical capital value (stock variable) and the cultural value respectively.
The two values are not independent. If the physical assets is not conserved and developed, the flow of services or cultural values will diminish. Cultural value is part of a nation's wealth and should be conserved for future generations.
It is defined by Throsby as "assets that embodies a store of cultural value separate from whatever economic value it might possess.â€¨â€¨Thus heritage sites produce economic values in the form of market value of the site itself from the income generated from tourism for example, as well as intangible cultural values setting apart cultural heritage sites from other sites.
Cultural capital is important for sustainable economic development. Just as ecosystems or environmental capital are essential for the maintenance of economic activity, so also can cultural ecosystems and cultural diversity be seen as an important component of infrastructure supporting a dynamic economy (Throsby, 2007:23).
A claim of a link between economic development and the preservation and documentation of heritage motivated the development of LHR in South Africa, however, says Snowball and Courtney, such correlation is often not easily determinable, due to non-market value of many of these benefits which are often quantified using methods like contingency valuation and in some cases, hedonic pricing, which have their own problems and biases (Ruijgrok, 2006; Snowball, 2008). Attracting funding for heritage is also often constrained by equally competing and deserving national priorities of a developing country such as education, health, etc. â€¨â€¨
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.