By the time the new Secretary General of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) enters office on Monday; all executive positions at the party headquarters will be filled. The ruling party’s central committee met on Thursday to finalise on the appointment of the executive secretary and political officer.
The ruling party will hold a crucial elective congress this weekend, where the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi will test his mettle against former cabinet ministers, Tebelelo Seretse and Ndelu Seretse; as well as Member of Parliament, Biggie Butale in the race for chairmanship of the party. Masisi is also challenged by party members Moemedi Dijeng and Seteng Motalote.
The secretary general position, which is responsible for the party office affairs, is being contested for by Botsalo Ntuane, and former Assistant Minister of Health, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri. It has emerged that Matlhabaphiri has the support of the current crop of leaders in the BDP.
In relation to the appointments at BDP office, there are two schools of thoughts within the BDP, one being of the view that the outgoing central committee should have waited for the new office bearers to dictate the appointments; while the other opined that the current central committee is well within its rights to appoint officers to ensure that the new office bearers find the house in order.
Some in the BDP see this as a political warfare meant to ensure that in the event the political nemesis of the current office bearers take charge, they have figures who can watch their back while out of office, it could also be seen to be a war of mind games by some.
Merapelo Moloise has been named as the Executive Secretary of the BDP, while Ame Makoba will take over as the political officer. The BDP was paying a big salary for the position of executive secretary, estimated in the region of P45 000.
The salary is said to have been lowered to ensure that it is pegged with that of political officer. Many thought that in actual fact the previous salary made the executive secretary too powerful and weighed on the party finances.
The ruling party is said to have gone for a party member in good standing who will appreciate that they are more like volunteers at the party office. The salaries they receive have been modelled around allowances. Mpho Balopi, the outgoing secretary general of the BDP was instrumental in putting up the current perks, and he was also pivotal in the axing of former executives of the party.
While a few read the latest move as his attempt to ‘rule from the grave, Balopi has indicated that the central committee decisions were made in good faith and in the interest of the party. Balopi is not lost to active politics because reports are indicative of his plans to make a return in 2017 and challenge for the position of treasurer of the BDP.
Moloise is not a political novice; she was an active member of the BDP from the Tonota branch. She has also worked for non-governmental organisations and the private sector. She was one of the key players in the BDP campaign in the last general elections. She is said to have signed a three year contract with the party and will not serve probation. She will lead the BDP administration office and be responsible for all staff members.
“It is true that we have identified an executive secretary to head our party office, and we are convinced that we have found the right person for the job,” outgoing secretary general, Mpho Balopi said. Moloise takes over from Sechele Sechele, whose contract was terminated along with a few other members of his staff.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.