Saleshando had to intervene against it from Colombia
Reports emerging from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) camp suggest that the party President, Dumelang Saleshando had to intervene from Colombia to block what some party elders viewed as premature announcement that the minority opposition party was ready to start talks with the main opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Saleshando was in Colombia on the weekend of September 5th when his central committee met to discuss various issues affecting the party including the much anticipated announcement on commencement of talks with the UDC. Party Secretary General, Kentse Rammidi and Spokesperson, Keorapetse Dithapelo were resolute in their stance that a resolution be rubber stamped that talks be motivated instantly.
However they were severely opposed by party veteran, Gobe Matenge and 2014 general election parliamentary candidate for Maun east, Goretetse Kekgonegile.
This publication established that despite the firm opposition, the other group which forms a majority in the central committee was ready to draft a resolution after the heated meeting, when elders sceptical about the envisaged marriage to UDC had to engage the absent President while he was still in Colombia. It has emerged that Saleshando’s dilly dallying on the subject of cooperation and his mixed messages may see the BCP lose a number of its high profile members.
“This time it is not the few young people enticed by goodies from the BDP, it is the real opposition stewards who want to see the Botswana Democratic Party removed from power in 2019,” said a senior BCP member close to the developments.
The central committee was ready to draft a resolution in these words: “The BCP has resolved to join the UDC subject to negotiations in relation to allocation of constituencies and other related matters.” But the resolution was withheld so as to engage regions first. The process has begun.
A number of key BCP members are said to be ready to dump the party for the UDC owing to Saleshando’s indecisiveness on the subject of joining the UDC. The former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament has recently had his leadership girth put under the microscope.
The opinion of those gauging his bravery in respect to the subject of joining the UDC is that he has a few friends who are misleading him into believing that the BCP has a chance of thriving alone. They also point an accusing finger at some party elders, whose relevance to today’s politics has waned with the passing of time, for blocking Saleshando’s view on the subject of working with the UDC.
At a BCP press conference last week, Saleshando did not appear to be averse to working with the UDC. But what is troubling those around him is the choice of language and the apparent indecisiveness. When he used the phrase “fair deal” when responding to a question from the floor on what the BCP anticipate from the talks, some within his ranks calculated a character of a man fearing the unknown.
BCP’s pro-unity camp is content with Saleshando landing a Vice Presidency seat under the UDC. They also believe that those persuading him against the UDC move want to see him suffer further political humiliation after losing the Gaborone Central to Phenyo Butale of the UDC.
This publication has also learnt that some business people who backed the BCP have threatened to pull the plug should the dilly dallying continue, “in fact some are not financing us anymore because of this issue. They are very clear that a change of government will not occur with the BCP as a stand alone,” said our mole from the BCP.
It is clear that Saleshando must be ready for turbulence in the first quarter of 2016 as some senior party officials will pressure him to make a public statement that talks are on. Addressing Editors this week, UDC President, Duma Boko pointed out that he only expects talks to start in 2016 as both parties are still sorting out internal issues. However the BCP ranks are of the view that the UDC stance was motivated by BCP’s indecisiveness on the matter.
BCP spokesperson Dithapelo Keorapetse confirmed that there was a central committee meeting but indicated that the outcome of the meeting is basically what President Saleshando shared at the press conference, “which I think your team attended.”
However we learn that Keorapetse, Rammidi, Okavango Member of Parliament, Bagalatia Arone; Ramotswa Member of Parliament, Samuel Rantuana; and Nkange 2014 Parliamentary candidate, Dr Never Tshabang are some of the individuals piling up the pressure on Saleshando and his Vice President, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang to expedite the issue of talks.
BCP Youth League President, Tumiso Rakgare on various forums has acknowledged that they have two camps in the party, one being for cooperation while the other antagonises. He said they needed time to walk everyone through the idea of unity with the UDC.
The BCPYL is likely to appoint itself the watchdog of the negotiation process owing to its radical politics. But the fear of those who want talks sped up is that the UDC may ultimately accelerate their programme of action and make inroads in areas where the BCP had better bargaining power. A case in point is the fact that the UDC is methodically piercing into the north, where the BCP has an upper hand. Boko addressed a rally in Francistown a fortnight ago to activate the structures.
With all these twists and turns Saleshando is bound to lose friends and members no matter which side of the coin he picks but observers are adamant that his political salvation lies with joining the UDC – but for now the BCP President is still wondering whether it is head or tail. His pro-unity team is telling him joining the UDC is a trial worth experimenting ahead of the 2019 general elections. University of Botswana lecturer Dr Wazha Morapedi is very clear, “the only chance the opposition has against the BCP is when they are one component. They must just campaign under the UDC and forget about their old brands,” he said.
However Saleshando’s indecisiveness has been attributed to his lack of power because the BCP constitution gives powers to the central committee. On the other hand the BCP national executive committee is broadly empowered to run the party on a day to day basis. Saleshando’s fear is that he does not want to be seen to be leaving his members behind. On the other hand “he is well aware that an overwhelming majority of BCP members want cooperation,” said one of the senior BCP members.
SALESHANDO ON BYE-ELECTIONS
“I have been in informal consultations with the Leader of the UDC on ways of formalizing our cooperation during by-elections. To this end, we are in agreement that there is need to urgently enter into an agreement for all future by-elections which will spell out the terms and conditions under which we will assist each other. We anticipate that the agreement will be signed during the month of September 2015. As it is, there is a by-election to be held soon in the Boswelatlou ward of the Lobatse Constituency during the month of October, making it necessary for us to expedite the signing of an agreement that spells out our duties and responsibilities as cooperating partners as well as setting up joint structures required to manage the cooperation.”
Gaborone Bonnignton South Member of Parliament (MP) Christian Greef has submitted a letter of complaint to party chairman Slumber Tosogwane to take stern action against former minister Dr Alfred Madigele for causing chaos in the constituency.
There has been simmering tension between the two in Gaborone Bonnignton South, where former minister Dr. Madigele is said to be busy working the ground with the intention of contesting the constituency in 2024. Greef is said to have fallen out of favour with the party top hierarchy due to his association with the beleaguered party secretary general Mpho Balopi, something which he says is “unfounded”. Greef told this publication that “there are some with mischievous attempts here, but I will sort them out.”
Insiders, however, reveal that it is Madigele who has been causing unrest in the constituency as he plots his comeback to parliament in 2024. This is notwithstanding the fact that Madigele has also been promised the position of secretary general, should the party faithful ratify a proposal by the party politburo to reconfigure the position.
However, Madigele does not want to count on the SG position, hence the decision to to contest the Gaborone Bonnington South constituency. There are reports that there is a spirited campaign by some party members to reject a mulled plan to have the SG being a full-time employee of the party. This has irked Greef and has since approached the party structures for redress. “We are writing this letter to issue a complaint regarding misconduct by certain members of the BDP in our constituency.
There are several incidents where these individuals have been causing uncalled-for disruptions during party activities in Gaborone Bonnington South,” a letter penned by Greef, addressed to the regional chairperson, reads. He further added, “The group of people who are causing all these unnecessary tension in our constituency is identified and allegedly known by Madigele’s teams who is said to be campaigning for 2023 primary elections.
As the branch we witnessed the same team with similar misconduct during Bophirima Ward by election which we believe caused the party to lose the ward and continue to bring the image of the party in disrepute.” Lately, Madigele has relocated to the same constituency and that has created anxiety to Greef who is a first-time MP. Greef is concerned about how his rival was accepted in his constituency without his knowledge. If he had his wish, he would kick out Madigele from the constituency.
Greef, in another letter copied to President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and Chairman Slumber Tsogwane, says Madigele has brought the branch into disarray by campaigning for a parliamentary seat contrary to the party’s regulations for conduct of primary elections. “I therefore humbly appeal to you to call Dr Madigele, who is not a member of our branch, to order,” he said. Party officials in the region are aware of the matter; some say the MP’s complaint is baseless. However, the MP, according to sources, will fight to the bitter end to ensure that his arch rival is purged out.
Monthe and Marumo Attorneys who are representing suspended Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo in a legal dispute pitting him against the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have said that they would submit a legal bill to the agency.
This was after DCEC’s acting Director General, Tshepo Pilane had written a letter to the law firm demanding that some files and documents belonging to the agency be returned. “We refer to your letter dated 3rd June 2022 wherein you advised of termination of our mandate. In view thereof we have to file a notice of withdrawal as attorneys of record for and on behalf of the Organisation (DCEC),” Monthe Marumo Attorneys said in their letter.
The lawyers also indicated that, “the firm is in the process of finalizing your invoice and upon settlement of same, we will duly release the contents of the file, in so far as it relate to DCEC.” Pilane had informed the law firm that, “Following the Directorate’s termination of any and/or mandate between the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and your law firm and/or attorney of an Associate law firm of Monthe Marumo and Company on the 3rd June 2022.”
He added that, “I do hereby request that all DCEC documents in custody be returned to the DCEC on or before 12hours today the 6th June 2022. You are also informed that none of this information shall be used by your office under any circumstances.” Meanwhile Katlholo has told the High Court that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security was on the rampage as it continues to act with impunity.
He revealed this in an urgent application in which he seeks among others that Pilane, Deputy Director General of DCEC Priscilla Israel and the agency’s senior legal advisor Edwin Batsalwelang to be committed to jail for contempt of a court. The Court order had directed that a deputy sheriff should collect files and dockets from the DCEC office and place them into the custody of the Court. “Consequent to the order of his Lordship, the DISS has continued on its rampage and has arrested two officers of the DCEC and detained them in a Hitler style arrangement,” said Katlholo.
He added that, quite clearly the “DISS with the assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents seeks to conceal all the evidence by obstructing Judicial process.” He said his latest current application has been brought at the earliest opportunity following defiance and acts of obstruction at the instance of the respondents. Katlholo saidthe conduct of the Pilane, Israel, Batsalelwang and DIS are an aggression on the rule of law, the Constitution of Botswana and the Judiciary in general.
“The DISS clearly has every intention of continuing to defy my rights and with the due assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents (Pilane, Israel and Batsalelwang). To refuse an interdict, thereby allowing the perpetration of an ongoing wrong is an anathema to the principle of legality,” said Katlholo. He said, “The DISS cannot be allowed to continue acting in contravention of the law, and to fragrantly invade an act of Parliament.”
He reiterated that the files or documents or dockets remain vulnerable and there is need that they be removed from the office and placed in the custody of the Registrar. There can never be a safe place than Court, said Katlholo. “Should the matter not be heard as urgent, the likelihood of the files concerned and the information therein dissipating or being interfered with is high and once the evidence of the concerned files has been compromised or contaminated there is no other relief in law that fix such, there is therefore no alternative remedy,” he said.
Katlholo added that, “Most importantly, any unwarranted access to the files may compromise the integrity of ongoing investigations and expose informants and whistleblowers. Once they have been compromised, no court action may restore such.” He said it was necessary and extremely urgent that the Court steps in to protect the rule of law against the respondents, more particularly the DIS and its agents.
The United States through its State Department’s annual report on global religious freedoms is keeping tabs on Botswana’s decision to arrest of controversial pastor Thuso Tiego by the police.
The report was released a week ago. Tiego was re-arrested this week by the police after he allegedly attempted to spearhead a campaign aimed at shutting down some shops that are run by foreigners. The US’ State Department report says Police arrested a pastor from the Bethel Transfiguration Church September 7 when he tried to deliver a petition to President Mokgweetsi Masisi demanding his resignation over what the pastor said was mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis.
“The pastor, Thuso Tiego, also criticized the government for restricting religious gatherings at a time when he said that individuals turned to churches for counselling and support during the pandemic,” the report says. It says Tiego was held overnight at a police station and released without charge. The report cites media reports saying that several of his supporters were beaten by police when they gathered outside the station demanding Tiego’s release.
“The national police service did not announce any disciplinary action against the officers involved,” the report says adding that, “The constitution provides for freedom of religion, with certain exceptions, and protection against governmental discrimination based on creed.” On other related issues, the report said the government continued to pursue court cases involving unregistered churches (sometimes called “fire churches”) coming into the country to “take advantage of” local citizens by demanding tithes and donations for routine services or special prayers.
“The government required pastors of some of those churches to apply for visas – even those from countries whose nationals were normally allowed visa-free entry. The government said in June 2019 that it was reviewing the visa policy for these foreign pastors, but by year’s end had not released the results of this review or announced any changes,” the report says. According to the report, former members of one of the most prominent unregistered churches forced to close in 2019, the Enlightened Christian Gathering, subsequently formed their own smaller, independent churches with local leadership that was ultimately registered by the government.
The report says, under the COVID-19 state of emergency that ended in September, the government limited attendance at religious services to no more than 50 persons at one time and limited services to twice a week. The government also banned all religious gatherings during “extreme social distancing” periods. Although the limits on religious gatherings lasted 18 months and prevented some individuals from fully practicing their faith, most religious groups did not say their freedom of religion was being restricted and stated that the extraordinary measures were necessary for public health
The report says the US Embassy officials engaged with Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and other religious representatives to discuss religious freedom, interreligious relations, and community engagement. “Topics included government tolerance of minority religious groups, the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on religious expression, and interfaith cooperation to address community challenges,” the report says.
The report says under its broader protections of freedom of conscience, the constitution provides for freedom of thought and religion, the right to change religion or belief, and the right to manifest and propagate religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance. It says the constitution’s provision of rights also prohibits discrimination based on creed.
The constitution permits the government to restrict these rights in the interest of protecting the rights of other persons, national defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health when the restrictions are deemed “reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.” “The state of emergency imposed from March 2020 to September 2021 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which capped the size of regular religious gatherings and meetings, was the first time the government ever exercised this provision,” the report says.