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Motsaathebe’s night vigil came to naught

Motsaathebe demanded counting be re-done

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Youth Leader, Kenaleone Motsaathebe is at loggerheads with the party over irregularities that spurned out of the Goodhope-Mabule primary elections.

By Thursday evening Motsaathebe was consulting with some lawyers in Gaborone on the legal options he could pursue against the party after he alleged that he was not given an opportunity to be heard after he complained about “cheating” in the party primaries. But he was also keeping an open mind on a “political solution”.

While Motsaathebe was busy consulting with his lawyers, BDP secretary general, Botsalo Ntuane was already on his way to Goodhope to file papers for the nomination of Eric Molale as the BDP candidate for the bye-election. He also had an engagement with BDP members in the constituency.

Molale was declared winner for the second time on Wednesday night after a verification process that was demanded by Motsaathebe. During the verification process Motsaathebe’s votes increased by a further 67, while

Molale’s went up by 34. Other candidates also received extra 32, 17, and 1 vote in that order.

The additional numbers gave Molale a 45 vote margin over Motsaathebe. Initially Molale garnered 703 votes and Motsaathebe was voted by 625 BDP members.

Those who attended the verification process intimated that Motsaathebe was not convinced that he lost fairly. He indicated that the verification process had revealed discrepancies hence he demanded that the ballots be recounted.

The other candidates, Mononi, Mogatle and Segatle were also invited because they were interested parties. Motsaathebe was clear that the matter involved him and Molale. The BDP hierarchy at the meeting indicated that counting would take the whole night, and was going to be a lot of work, but Motsaathebe insisted on it.

To throw the spanner into the works, BDP lawyer Parks Tafa demanded that Motsaathebe make an undertaking that he will accept the results should the recount be done, but Motsaathebe refused to make an undertaking.

The time was already 11pm and the BDP leaders decided to declare Molale the winner for the second time. Motsaathebe was not happy with the decision.

Those close to Motsaathebe told this publication that he is not happy and is adamant that he was not given a hearing because the process was not completed. He had demanded a recount and it was not done. The former BDP Youth Wing chairman is convinced that the Goodhope-Mabule BDP primary elections were rigged and the results should be nullified. He has indicated to his buddies that the fact that the verification process gave him extra votes more than any of the other candidates is an indication that he was the target of elimination in the election.

“He has told us that the BDP leaders are not willing to find a political solution to the impasse. He is wondering what they intend to do because the legal route does not favour the party at all because they have no leg to stand on,” said one of Motsaathebe’s close allies.

Indications are that Motsaathebe may plunge the BDP into a scenario similar to that created by White Marobela when he challenged the victory of Ignatius Moswaane in the Francistown West BDP primary elections.
A court intervention led to the BDP not contesting the bye-election which was ultimately won by the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) candidate, Dr Habaudi Hobona. BDP members in Goodhope-Mabule fear that Motsaathebe wants to block Molale from contesting the election on August 14th. They have challenged the party to close all legal gaps to ensure that Molale faces Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Comfort Molosiwa of the BCP.

Motsaathebe declined to comment on the subject, only indicating that the process of his appeal has not been completed.

WHAT MOTSAATHEBE WROTE ON HIS FACEBOOK WALL

“I have opted not to give any details regarding the status quo following the primary election at Goodhope Mabule. For the simple reason that the matter is before BDP structures and I am not a spokesperson of the BDP. It's sad how some people can exploit a person's circumstances for whatever reason! I am a loyal member of the BDP and will remain so forever! I have never on any way had what is said to be "ideas" of working with the opposition! Whatever decisions I take, are entirely within the constitution of the BDP and the best interest of the party and not mine or those of any particular group. As a loyal BDP member, I have and shall always urge democrats to remain loyal and support the BDP at all times! We have a bye election in the 15th August which must be won by the BDP and democrats have to work hard to achieve this and ignore any other attempts to distract us. I have always encouraged all those who voted for me, after thanking them and all other democrats who voted for other candidates, to unite, rally behind the BDP and not individuals, to ensure that the best interests of the BDP are promoted and protected! Goodhope Mabule is a BDP stronghold that has to return to the BDP on August the 15th. We all have a duty to protect our beloved BDP. I urge pleas with democrats to ignore any suggestions that I would sabotage an organization that I voluntarily joined in 1990. Democracy is paramount! I thank you all.”

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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