COMRADES PARADE: Umbrella for Democratic Change leader, Duma Boko has only had kind words for the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in recent weeks. The two parties are preparing to launch their marriage, and Dumelang Saleshando, the BCP leader may be rewarded with a green card to contest in Gaborone Bonninton North, as Boko focuses on presidential bid.
That the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) are headed for talks is not in doubt. What could be overworking the ruling Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) think tanks is the confidence that is mounting among opposition ranks.
Opposition lobbyists on the ground want Duma Boko to purely focus on the Presidential bid in 2019 and not distract his bid with the side dish of a constituency battle – and this could be another add on to mending relations between the UDC and BCP.
Events on the ground dictate that Boko has settled the debate of who should or will be the President of the all-encompassing UDC, while on the other hand the BCP’s Dumelang Saleshando has accepted his fate – that should an agreement be penned, he will be Boko’s running mate, and one of the two Vice Presidents under the UDC.
Some BCP stalwarts who spoke to Weekend Post indicated that the BCP has always been a proponent of opposition cooperation and that there is no doubt that they will be part of the UDC in the run up to the 2019 elections. “This effectively means that we are going to also work with the UDC in all the bye-elections that will come before 2019.”
This publication gathered that the BCP central committee is expected to meet on Saturday to come up with a roadmap for the talks. “The central committee meeting will deliberate on how the party handles the talks internally. The party expects a lot of trade-offs, including on constituencies,” said a source.
Much has been said about the hierarchy of the UDC, should the BCP come through. Now that the ink has dried on who is head, lobbyists from both camps want Duma Boko to focus on the Presidential bid in the 2019 elections campaign. They are of the view that Boko could be central to a potential victory in 2019, if his offensive charm is unleashed across constituencies. The thinkers are also taking cognisance of the possibility of a direct election of the President, should the BDP sponsor such a law.
The opposition is also wary that a new legal dispensation in regard to election of the President of the Republic could give President Lt Gen Ian Khama another bite at the cherry if he so wishes. There are murmurs that some within the BDP are not confident enough about their prospect of success without Khama at the helm. But as of now, it is a non-issue; automatic succession is still the order of day.
“There are many reasons why we wish to see comrade Boko profiled for State House; if he makes way for Saleshando, it means that Gaborone Central remains with the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and there will be not a lot of debate as to whether Saleshando should go back to Gaborone Central or not,” said one of the lobbyists.
While some had doubted Boko’s political stamina and appetite in the past, the BNF leader has already proved his mettle; he was at the forefront in the Goodhope-Mabule bye-election when Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II annihilated Presidential Affairs minister, Eric Molale.
And through his actions, Boko has demonstrated that he is ready to challenge for the highest office in the land, his followers have not even an iota of doubt. There is also no threat from the BNF front, it is evident that there is and there will be no vacancy for the position of president at BNF in a long shot.
Indications are that Saleshando could then be shifted to Gaborone Bonnington North, which will be one of the two or three constituencies awarded to the BCP in the southern part of the country. Informants have indicated that preliminary discussions point to the BCP being given the majority of the northern constituencies except for Francistown South and Maun West.
Political analyst, Dr Wazha Morapedi of the University of Botswana believes that should Boko give way to Saleshando, it will be a masterstroke. He said the gesture could also have the potential of warming up BCP members who doubted the genuineness of the cooperation. He also pointed out that the move could free Boko to focus on the bigger and broader issues of the campaign towards the 2019 general election.
Morapedi also told opposition parties to focus on UDC only, “any other thing will not yield any results. The BCP should just come under the UDC and they should all dissolve their parties,” he said. Morapedi pointed out that things like a pact will not work. “They must eject all those against cooperation and focus on the UDC and they will see the results.” He said it is not that important as to who will stand where, but rather the model.
According to UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa, the BCP gesture not to contest Boswelatlou is welcome because it paves way for the BCP to come under the Umbrella model. He said the two parties are ready to engage each other, “and we would very want the BCP to come under the UDC,” he said.
On the issue of Boko paving way for Salesghando Mohwasa cautioned members to desist from making certain moves which may put the leadership under unnecessary pressure. He said they should allow the talks to commence and conclude and the leadership will make final announcements.
BCP spokesperson, Dithapelo Keorapetse said: “We are not standing in Boswelatlou ward in Lobatse and we will assist the UDC to retain the seat. The cooperation in Botswelatlou is a culmination of both parties’ attempts to forge relations that would usher in an amicable working relationship and is a big step for the envisaged opposition cooperation leading up to 2019 general elections. We are currently working on a Memorandum of Understanding for bye-elections from now onwards and we hope not to oppose each other in 2019.
The BCP believes that Batswana and opposition parties enemy is one, BDP, therefore we ought to do as much as we can to retain seats held by opposition and wrestle those in the BDP in future bye-elections. BDP has become corrupt and bereft of ideas and has to go and it is only through opposition cooperation that we can achieve that.
So failure to cooperate is not an option, we have to find a way to emancipate Batswana who clearly want change now. On how we are going to cooperate in terms of the model, it will be discussed by the two parties looking at would work. We remain optimistic however that all will go well.”
For the first time in history the BDP has had its popular vote slip to below 50 percent of the total votes. The opposition is confident of unseating the BDP at the next election and the ruling party has been forced to introspect and re-engineer some of its own internal processes such as primary elections.
Duma Boko easily won the Gaborone Bonninton North constituency against BDP’s Robert Masitara and BCP’s Annah Motlhagodi. Motlhagodi is expected to lean on the side of her president should the constituency become a bait in the unity talks.
New details about a suspected Motswana poacher arrested in Namibian and his accomplice who is on the run were revealed when the suspect appeared in court this week.
The Motswana Citizen who was shot and wounded by Namibia’s anti poaching unit is facing criminal charges under criminal case number (CR NO 10/06/2022) which was registered at the Divundu Police Station in the Mukwe constituency of the Kavango East Region on 10 June 2022.
It is alleged that a patrol team laid an ambush after discovering a giraffe’s fresh carcass in a snare wire and hanging biltong. According to the Charge Sheet, the suspect Djeke Dihutu, aged 40 years, is charged with contravening and transgressions of Nature Conservation Ordinance andcontravening Immigration Act 07 in Mahango Wildlife Core Area, Bwabwata National Park. Dihutu’s first court appearance was on the 17th of June 2022, Rundu and it was postponed to the 07 July 2022. He is currently hospitalized in hospital under Police Guards.
Commenting on this latest development, the Namibian Lives Matter Movement National Chairperson Sinvula Mudabeti applauded the Namibian Anti Poaching Unit for its compliance with what it called the universal instrument on the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/169.
“We are aware that the duties of the police carry a great deal of risk, but our police has shown that they have a moral calling and obligation to protect even foreigners suspected of serious crimes on Namibian soil,” said Mudabeti.
According to him, whereas the Botswana Police Service, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS) have “very low moral ethics, integrity, accountability and honesty, the Namibian security agencies has shown very high levels of ethical leadership in the discharge of their duties even under duress.”
He said Namibian’s anti poaching unit has exercised one very important value, that is, the use of force only when it is reasonable and necessary. Mudabeti said this is in harmony with international best practices as enshrined in Article 2 of the UN instrument on law enforcement conduct, “In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.
Our police have protected the life of a Botswana poacher and accorded him dignity, which is very foreign to our Botswana counterparts,” he said. He said article 3 of the same instrument above, calls for Law enforcement officials to use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.
“This provision emphasizes that the use of force by law enforcement officials should be exceptional; while it implies that law enforcement officials may be authorized to use force as is reasonably necessary under the circumstances for the prevention of crime or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of suspected offenders, no force going beyond that was used by our Police,” he said.
Furthermore, Mudabeti said, whereas the universally accepted norm of the law of proportionality ordinarily permits the use of force by law enforcement, it is to be understood that such principles of proportionality in no case should be interpreted to authorize the use of force which is disproportionate to the legitimate objective to be achieved.
“Our police have used force proportional to the situation at hand. Great work indeed! Article 6 urges law enforcement officials to ensure the full protection of the health of persons in their custody and, in particular, shall take immediate action to secure medical attention whenever required,” he said.
Mudabeti said the Botswana poacher was immediately taken to hospital whereas the Nchindo brothers who were captured on Namibian soil, beaten, tortured and executed while pleading to be taken to the hospital we left to die.
“The Namibian Doctor gave evidence in court that Sinvula Munyeme’s lungs showed signs of life (during the autopsy) and that he could have survived if he was accorded immediate medical assistance in time but was left to die while BDF soldiers looked and possibly ignored his cry for help,” he said.
Mudabeti said unlike in Botswana where there are no clear separation of powers between the BDF, Botswana Police Service, Department of Intelligence and their Directorate of Public Prosecutions,” we have a system that allows for checks and balances and allows our people and foreigners who are found on the wrong side of the law to be accorded the right to a fair trial.”
He said Botswana citizens are treated with dignity when apprehended in Namibia and not assaulted, tortured and executed. “We are a civilized country that respects international law in dealing with non-Namibian criminals. The Namibian Police have not mistreated the Botswana poacher but have given him the benefit of the doubt by allowing due processes of the law to be followed,” he said.
He added that, “We are a peace loving nation that has not repaid Botswana by the evil that Botswana has done to Namibia by killing more than 37 innocent and unarmed Namibians by the trigger happy BDF.” He concluded that, “Our acts of mercy in arresting Botswana citizens should never be mistaken for cowardice.”
The government has reportedly taken a decision to terminate provision of pool housing and subsidy for civil servants as it attempts to trim the public service wage bill.
This emerges in a dispute that is currently before the Labour Office headquarters lodged by unions representing thousands of civil servants across the country. This publication understands that the decision to cease providing pool housing and rental subsidy for public officers is part of proposals that government put on the table during its negotiations with public service unions in order for it to adjust salaries.
A letter from Labour Office addressed to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) shows that the directorate is cited as the First Respondent. The letter is titled, “Dispute lodged: Cessation of provision of pool housing and subsidy for pubic officers.”
“This serves as a notification and requirement to a mediation hearing,” the letter informed DPSM. According to the letter, the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Unions (BOSETU) Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) and Botswana Land Board &Local Authorities &Health workers Union (BLLAHW) who lodged the complaint are cited as the Applicant.
“Please come for mediation hearing. The hearing will be conducted by Mr Lebang. The hearing is scheduled for date/time 29th June 2022, 09: 00HOURS at Block 8 District Labour Office, Gaborone. Please bring all relevant documents,” reads the letter in part.
According to a document described as a proposal paper on the negotiations on salaries and other conditions of employment of public officers by the employer (government), the government did not only propose to stop providing accommodation to civil servants but also put a number of proposals on the table.
The proposal papers states that the negotiations (which have since been concluded) cover three government financial years; 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25. The government proposed an across the board salary adjustments as follows; 3% for the financial year 2022/23 effective 1st April 2022, across the board salary adjustment of 3.5% for the financial year 2023/24 effective 1st April 2023 subject to performance of the economy and across the board salary adjustment of 4% for the financial year 2024/25 effective 1st April 2024 subject to performance of the economy.
The government also proposed phasing out of retention and attractive (Scarce Skills) Allowance with a view to migration towards clean pay, renegotiate and set new timelines for all outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement, executed by the employer and trade unions on the 27th August 2019, to ensure proper sequencing, alignment and proper implementation. The government also proposed to freeze public service recruitment for the 2022/23 financial year and withdraw the financial equivalence of P500 million attached to vacancies from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).
Another proposal included phasing out of commuted overtime allowance and payment of overtime in accordance with the law and review human resource policies during the financial year 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.
The government argued that its proposals were premised on affordability and sustainability adding that it was important to underscore that the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers was taking place at a time when there were uncertainties both in the global and domestic economies.
“Furthermore there is need to ensure that any collective labour agreement that is concluded does not breach the fiscal deficit target of 4% of GDP,” the proposal paper stated. The proposal paper further indicated that beyond salary adjustments, the Government of Botswana is of the view that a more comprehensive consideration “must be taken on the issue of remuneration in the public service by embracing principles such as total rewards compensation which involves taking a fully comprehensive and holistic approach to how our organization compensates employees for the work.”
The proposal paper also noted that, “Clearly, the increase in salaries and changes to other conditions of service which have monetary consequences will further increase the proportion of the budget taken by salaries, allowances and other monetary based conditions of services.”
“The consequential effect would be a reduction of the portion that can be used for other recurrent budget needs (e.g. maintenance of assets, consumable supplies such as medicines and books) and for development projects,” the proposal states.
Opposition Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) National Executive Committee will in no time investigate charges party members worked with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) membership to tip the scales in favour of the latter for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship in exchange for deputy seat in a dramatic 11th hour gentleman’s deal, leaving the ruling party splinter under the political microscope.
In a spectacular Sub-council election membership last Thursday, the ruling BDP’s Lesedi Phuthego beat Atamelang Thaga with 14 votes to 12 for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship coveted seat and subsequently the ruling party’s councilor Bernard Kenosi withdrew his candidacy in the final hour for the equally admired deputy chair paving the way for Solomon Dikgang of BPF, seen as long sealed ‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’ gentleman’s agreement between the contenders.
Both parties entered the race with a tie of votes torn between 12 councillors each, translating for election race that will go down to the wire definitely. But that will not be the case as two BPF councilors shifted their allegiance to the ruling party during the first race for Chairmanship held in a secret ballot and no sooner was the election concluded then the ruling party answered back by withdrawing its candidacy for the deputy chair position to give BPF’s Dikgang the post on a silver platter unopposed.
BPF councilor Vuyo Notha confirmed the incident in an interview on Wednesday, insisting the party NEC was determined to “investigate the matter soon”. “During the race for the Chairmanship, two more BPF voted for alongside the ruling party membership. It was clear Dikgang voted alongside the BDP as immediately after the vote for Chairmanship was concluded, Kenosi withdraw his candidacy to render Dikgang unopposed as a payback,” Notha added.
As for the other vote, Makolo ward councilor will not be drawn for the identity preferring instead to say: “BPF NEC will convene all the councilors to investigate the matter soon and we will take from there.” Notha will also not be drawn to conclude may be the culprit councilors could have defected to the ruling party silently.
“If they are no longer part of us they should say so and a by-election be called,” was all he could say. As it stands now, the law forbids sitting Councilors and Parliamentarians from crossing the floor to another party as to do so will immediately invite for a new election as dictated by the law. Incumbent politicians will therefore dare not venture for the unknown with a by-election that could definitely cost their political life and certainly their full benefits.
Notha could also not be dragged to link the culprit councilors actions to BPF Serowe region Chairperson Tebo Thokweng who has silently defected to the ruling party and currently employed by the party businessman and former candidate for Serowe West Moemedi Dijeng as PRO for the highly anticipated cattle abattoir project in Serowe.
“As for Thokweng he has not resigned from the party but from the region’s chairmanship,” he said. WeekendPost investigations suggest Thokweng is the secret snipper behind the recruitment drive of the votes for the elections and is determined to tear the party dominance in Serowe and the neighbouring villages asunder including in Palapye going forward.
This publication’s investigations also show BPF’s Radisele and UDC’s Mokgware/Mogome councilors are under the radar of investigations for the votes-themselves associated with the workings and operations of Thokweng.
“NEC will definitely leave no stone unturned with their investigations to get into the bottom of the matter. Disciplinary actions will follow certainly,” Notha concluded, underscoring the need to toe the party line to set a good precedent. For the youthful councilor, the actions of his peers has set a wrong precedent which has to be dealt with seriously to deter future culprits.