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.
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.
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.
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.”