VP says he must prepare himself for Presidency now
Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi who is lobbying to become the next chairman of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has pronounced his claim to the throne this week at a meeting organised to launch his bid for chairmanship and announce his campaign team in Kanye on Monday.
Briefing profiled members of the ruling party in the southern region on Monday, Masisi, who was handpicked by President Lt Gen Ian Khama to become his right hand man during his last term of office, told party members that he will be President of the party and country come 2018. Ministers, Councillors, and other former cabinet ministers and veterans attended the meeting.
Ministers who attended the meeting include Minister of Agriculture, Patrick Ralotsia; Assistant Minister of Trade, Sadique Kebonang; and Assistant Minister of Health, Dr Alfred Madigele. All BDP Members of Parliament in the Southern District attended. Ishmael Legwaila was announced as the National campaign manager for Masisi’s bid for chairmanship.
Some BDP members who attended the meeting told this publication that the Vice President did not mince his words when challenged all those who doubt his popularity to stand up now and take him head on. “He made it clear that he is surprised that people are postponing their intentions to challenge him for positions in the party. I am ready for the challenge now, he said,” one of those who attended the meeting explained.
A defiant Masisi probably got provoked by sentiments that he is an unpopular Vice President and that there are BDP members who are supposedly lined up to challenge him for the presidency of the BDP as soon as President Khama vacates the scene.
Masisi’s unpopularity was extensively measured through the Moshupa-Thamaga constituency council bye-election that saw the ruling party lose by a good margin to the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) immediately after a general election in which the latter was associated with the political definition of decline. “If I am very unpopular, why should people wait for 2017,” he remarked, our informer/s said.
According to our informers, Masisi made it clear that being Vice President cannot stop him from being party chairman. “I am going to be president and run the country while at the same time I will be president of the party. I am surprised that people now assume I cannot be vice president and party chairman at the same time,” he is said to have told his listeners.
The Vice President also sold the argument that as a president in waiting, he should fix the party the way he wants so that by the time he is president, he knows every detail of the organisation.
Masisi also had a few musings on reports that Tati East Member of Parliament, Samson Guma Moyo will dent his support for the chairmanship bid. He said there is no need for such issues to be turned into corner politics, “issues must be addressed now,” he said demonstrating his appreciation of the support he is getting from Guma.
The Tati East legislator has been linked to controversy every time there is a BDP internal election. After his victory at Maun congress as chairman, Guma was accused of using his financial resources to entice delegates. He was later fingered in a plot to ditch ‘popular’ BDP heavy weights through the party primary elections in 2014.
He later resigned as party chairman. Guma has made it clear that he supports Masisi for chairmanship and vouches for Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri as secretary general.
On another subject, Masisi is said to have discouraged the idea of lobby lists but told his listeners that they are free to canvass support for any person of their choice for other positions because he is ready to work with anyone. Masisi currently has support from the BDP Youth Wing, while the BDP Women’s Wing may find itself between a rock and a hard place because of Tebelelo Seretse’s candidacy. She was the first person to make her intention clear and she has already done 360 degrees in her campaign trail.
Masisi’s campaign manager, Legwaila is a former councillor for Mathathane ward and also former sub-council chairman. He is assisted by Selibe Phikwe Mayor, Cllr Mojuta who will serve the campaign team as its secretary. Other members of the campaign include Isaac Maforaga from Palapye; Cllr Monageng from Serowe; Former Sua Township Mayor, Cllr Medupi; and former nominated Councillor, Victor Malete among others.
Legwaila confirmed that he has been appointed Masisi’s campaign manager and could not share details of the Kanye meeting.
While Masisi’s entry into the race was indeed a game changer, his campaign team still has stones to unturn because other candidates had already made inroads. All aspiring candidates have been given until June 1st 2015 to make their intentions known in writing to the Secretary General of the BDP. The congress will be held in July from 3rd to 5th in Mmadinare.
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.