Eight months on, Basarwa still waiting for court order
Former area Councillor of Ranyane, Paul Mokgethisi who led his tribesmen and women to the Gaborone High Court to seek justice died this week, before he could know the fate of his people.
The residents wanted government, particularly the Gantsi District Council to restore the services that were terminated when they were forced to resettle. The first people, wanted among other things, the drought Relief programme, water, the mobile clinic to be returned to their ancestral land.
Some of them came to Gaborone for the very first time in 2014. Penniless and having to crowd in a single room after being driven more than a thousand kilometres on an open barkie, the tribe people were only driven by hope, the hope that their tales of sorrow would be heard and settled within a reasonable period.
Just like the Basarwa of the Central Kalahari Game reserve who won the resettlement case through the high court, Mokgethisi believed they would emerge victorious.
“The court would settle this dispute. This is a political game by the ruling party and top government officials to drive us out of this land. We know that they are eyeing the land and want to divide it into farms amongst themselves,” Mokgethisi had accused the government during an interview outside court in December 2014.
At that time, Justice Terrence Rannowane had postponed the case judgment to a later date. Eight Months have now gone by, and the judge is yet to deliberate on the case.
Rannowane’s Secretary told Weekend Post this week that they were still working on the judgement and would not tell when it would be out.
“Sometimes the cases are delayed due to the Judge’s workload and sometimes it is because the case requires a lot of work and research,” the Secretary explained.
However she declined to discuss the Ranyane case and said only parties involved in the matter can be responded to.
However Onalethata Kambai, an attorney who represented the Ranyane residents in the matter said he had long written an enquiry letter to the Registrar office regarding the judgment’s delay and he had not received any response.
“We have not received any response despite repeated follow ups and people continue to suffer as a result. When Judgment is delivered everyone can be sure of their rights and obligations,” Kambai explained. According to Kambai, three of the applicants have since died awaiting judgement.
Meanwhile the Gantsi District Council is using the delayed judgment as an excuse to continue denying the people clean water and other services and the people continue to suffer as a result. In fact even the mobile clinic which used to operate in Ranyane during the case hearing has now been stopped.
The Council insists that Ranyane is a wildlife area and not for human habitation.
The Council stopped all its free services which are normally extended to all communities in 2012 after it declared Ranyane an illegal settlement. The people were then advised to relocate to other neighbouring settlements including Bere and Metsimantsho. Mokgethisi was the former area Councillor and an active member of the opposition Botswana National Front (BNF).
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.