BIDDING HIS MORAFHE FAREWELL: Kgosi Lotlamoreng II of Barolong resigned from his Bogosi duties this week. The former deputy chairperson of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi is expected to represent the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the Goodhope-Mabule constituency bye-election following the resignation of Member of Parliament for area, James Mathokgwane.
The Paramount Chief of Barolong, Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II has admitted that he has always been a member of opposition politics.
Speaking in an interview shortly after his resignation from the royal crown, Lotlaamoreng revealed that he joined the Botswana National Front (BNF) when he was still a very young boy in the mid-1980s. However he could not remember whether he joined as a life member or the membership had since expired.
“I have not been paying annual contributions so I am not sure about the status of my membership,” Lotlaamoreng explained.
This was shortly after his tribe grudgingly allowed him to temporarily step aside from the royal throne. The decision was made during a well attended kgotla meeting in Goodhope following his request to be released.
Although he did not openly tell the gathering where he is headed, it is an open secret that the Paramount chief has accepted a request by the opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to contest for the coming Goodhope Mabule by-election. His Party, BNF, is a group member of UDC.
The constituency was left without a Parliamentary representative after James Mathokgwane of UDC resigned in pursuit of greener pastures.
Lotlaamoreng has promised to continue serving his tribe albeit from a different forum and maintains that he would not be intimidated by rivalry talks.
Despite rumours that certain individuals close to the top are plotting to keep him out of the royal throne once he is launched as a candidate of a political party in the run off to the elections, Lotlaamoreng and his uncles maintained that, “a chief derives its right from birth.”
Kgosi Lotlaamoreng further revealed that nobody is pushing him out of the royal seat and he does not anticipate any trouble when the time comes for him to reclaim his chieftaincy.
“Nobody is pushing me out and there has never been confusion over the rightful heir of Barolong chieftaincy. When the time comes for me to return to my seat, I will do that,” Lotlaamoreng said in a brief interview on Tuesday this week in Goodhope.
Lotlaamoreng appointed his Uncle, Botiki Motshegare as Barolong chief regent.
Meanwhile some of his tribesmen who have the experience of politics on the ground fears that Lotlaamoreng may return to the royal throne sooner than the four years he had anticipated.
Boniface Lesomo, a Councillor for Ramatlabama ward, suggested that Lotlaamoreng’s winning chances are slim given that the constituency is vast and include larger areas that are not under his chieftaincy.
“For instance, his kingdom goes as far as Mokatako and beyond that it is Ngwaketse South. This means that areas such as Mabule and Phitshane-Molopo, which hold large numbers of electorates are not under him. He has no direct influence on such voters,” Lesomo contended.
Another argument by Lesomo who is a member of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), is that Lotlaamoreng would be contesting under the UDC ticket, a party whose MP has just resigned. Lesomo’s contention was that Lotlaamoreng would be succeeding Mathokgwane who was marred with controversy including betraying the struggle. According to him voters would not be interested in voting for quitters.
However the UDC sympathisers maintain that Lotlaamoreng would help the party retain the constituency as he is well known in the area as opposed to the current Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Eric Molale who is said to be the preferred candidate for the BDP.
Nonetheless, primary elections are yet to be held to determine the candidates for various political parties but Lotlaamoreng says if he is to contest for the elections, he stands a good chance of winning.
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.