Saleshando vows that the BCP will survive defections
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President Dumelang Saleshando is a man under immense pressure – his party has of late been rocked by sporadic defections – presumably to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Looking for a shoulder to lean on, the BCP is said to be ready to cushion under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
In a brief interview, Saleshando told this publication that they expect a few more to follow the seven who have already tendered in their resignation letters. “They had secret meetings with the BDP. The BDP financed them to tour the country in pursuit of BCP members. In some instances they pursued BCP candidates from general elections and told them the party does not want them to contest in 2019,” explained Saleshando.
BDP leaders among them Botsalo Ntuane, who is secretary general; Mephato Reatile, a former chairman of the Political Education Committee of the BDP; Botlogile Tshireletso, a member of the central committee; and others have launched a predatory attack on the BCP to justify the strength of the ruling party and their political pedigree in the marathon to the 2019 general election, which without doubt promises fireworks at freedom squares and debate platforms.
The BCP has lost among others former youth leaders and former general elections candidates at parliamentary and council level. The bone of contention within the BCP has been the issue of cooperation with the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), which vanquished the BCP in the 2014 general election – becoming the main opposition with 17 seats.
Political egos amongst members of the two parties nullified cooperation talks in 2013. The recent victory of the UDC at the Goodhope-Mabule constituency and poor showing by the BCP – preceded by a BCP Kanye congress which ushered in a pro-unity central committee, has pushed the BCP to the edge, and pundits speculate that the 15 year old party can “smell the coffee”.
Saleshando told WeekendPost that his party has long been aware of the BDP henchman tactic of ripping it open and it has targeted “vulnerable” members. Just two years ago, various studies, including some recognised by the United States of America, positioned the BCP as Botswana’s government in waiting. But today the BCP has lost so much weight and commentators are ready to match it to the likes of the Botswana People Party (BPP) and other defunct political organisations.
Saleshando pointed out that they have pin pointed two issues as reasoning for the defections, “they apparently do not accept the outcome of the Kanye congress because they do not accept certain individuals who were elected; secondly they accuse the leadership of underselling the party to the UDC,” he explained.
The BCP President is not surprised that Botsalo Ntuane is at the helm of trying to rattle the BCP, he has never loved the BCP, and he will do all in his comfort to give the public the impression that the BCP is in trouble. However Saleshando expresses confidence that his party has genuine and committed members, who will stand by the party come rain or sunshine. But at the same wavelength, Saleshando is stunned by party loyalists like Lotty Manyapedza, a cadre he has tried to talk out of defection, but without success.
“In fact I have already addressed regions on the recent developments, while the party was trying to be fair to the renegades, the members want them expelled from the party asap,” he said.
In the latest leaked audio between Lotty, Ntuane and other suitors, the former BCP Youth League President can be heard moaning that the BCP has not given him an opportunity to be elevated to higher positions, “ they only see me as a ward person, but I am central committee material”. Saleshando is convinced that the BCP remains a strong brand, choosing to indicate that they have learnt something from the current episode. The BCP itself, is a breakaway party, it split from the Botswana National Front (BNF) in 1998.
The BDP is also on survival mode, and most of the individuals at the helm of uprooting the BCP members are on survival mode. Mephato Reatile is still bruised from the Jwaneng-Mabutsane constituency defeat; Ntuane was also battered in the Gaborone Bonninton South seat election.
“They have a point to prove to their political masters, and they have decided to target vulnerable members within the BCP,” said Saleshando. He is of the view that the BDP is fast fading and hopes to save its face through the BCP, “they are not going to succeed, they are a desperate party like Ntuane pointed out in one of the audio tapes,” said the BCP leader. He pointed out that some of those who have left think they are bigger than the party, and they were toxic to the organisation, “we are better without them,” he said.
In the mist of all these, Saleshando admits that they have been aware all along that they may lose some members who are against working with the UDC. He said the BCP is not the first political organisation to lose members to a rival political party, “what matters is how you manage the situation going forward.” He said the BDP is using economic hardships of mostly young people to lure them to their side. “They are promised opportunities and loans through government schemes. This is tantamount to abuse of public funds,” he stressed.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
â€śBotswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,â€ť says Dr. Kwape. He wouldnâ€™t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
â€śWe will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,â€ś he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the â€śGovernment of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.â€ť
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
â€śSADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,â€ť the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceasedâ€™s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrateâ€™s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
â€śThe third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,â€ť Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
â€śYesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,â€ť said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12thÂ of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Astonâ€™s children) are staying.
â€śThato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,â€ť said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
â€śI have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,â€ť Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
â€śPhillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mallâ€ť the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the â€śunknown callerâ€ť and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused,Â Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6thÂ of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
â€śWe spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine â€“ that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,â€ť said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herderâ€™s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,â€ť said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).