The leader of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Duma Boko has declared that his party is definitely taking power in 2019 and has embarked on an exercise to engage various stakeholders including the business community, civil society and the media among others to ensure they adequately prepare for governance.
Boko said his party is busy working on reviewing its constitution as they prepare for state takeover. He said some of the issues that will be addressed is the top heavy party structure which needs to be made leaner to further the interest of the UDC. He said the process will go on until next year, and “we are planning to have a special congress to look into these issues,” he explained.
He said they will address the issue of direct membership into the UDC in terms of the structure among other things. He pointed out that: “the National Executive is bloated and there is need to streamline a few things hence we are planning a constitutional congress in the near future,” he said.
The UDC leadership engaged Editors on various issues on Wednesday. He said the UDC believes in a free media and this principle is embodied in the party’s founding documents. He committed to supporting the independence of the media, and confessed to be a profound proponent of self-regulation.
He challenged various media bodies to submit their demands to the UDC so that their ideas could be incorporated into the party’s blue print for the media industry. “Our party prescribes wholly to the fundamental precepts of human rights,” he said.
The UDC president said it defies logic why the Media Practitioners’ Act was drafted in the first place. He said his conviction to this position is buttressed by the fact that when he was the chairman of the Law Society of Botswana, they resolved not to nominate anyone to partake in the implementation of the law. “This Act must give up its existence. It must be repelled,” he said. Boko said he will be at the forefront of ensuring that the law is repelled.
He told editors that the media has another role – the advocacy role. “You must advocate for your rights as a profession. We must not run away from these facts,” he said. He indicated that the business community raised the issue of over regulation as a major concern in Botswana, a sign that the UDC will have to look into a number of laws which are seen as red tape by business people and some stakeholders. Boko encouraged the media to put its position across and make demands to politicians, “politics is not only for professional politicians, you are all part of politics either by complicity, omission or commission,” he said.
Boko further expressed the concern that state media has systematically closed out opposition from coverage to give the public an impression that the opposition Members of Parliament are not performing at the National Assembly. He said they currently depend on private media for coverage and appreciated the role of the private media.
The UDC President also had a go at some of the laws of the republic. He gave the example of the Public Order Act, which he said some of its provisions are unconstitutional. “Something tells me that the requirement that you must get permission from the police to march is unconstitutional,” said Boko.
He indicated that he is just waiting for a test case to challenge the status quo. “I am a human rights lawyer, stump and root. I have a feeling that the process of acquiring permission from the police interferes with a person freedom to express themselves,” he said.
Boko also expressed concern that the Botswana judiciary is populated with conservative voices. He said there is need to have a complete of judges including the radical characters.
Commenting on the issue of unity talks with the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Boko said: “We haven’t begun any talks with the BCP. They have only just come out of their congress and they needed to sort out their internal matters. It is not only peculiar to them, as the UDC we are also looking at the constitution as well. I do not think anything will happen this year. Realistically I think we can look at 2016. The willingness is there, at least on our part,” he said.
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.