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Afrobarometer barred from doing surveys within BDF bases


Afrobarometer surveys are supposed to be representative of the entire population of Botswana, but it has emerged that the entire Botswana Defence Force, which has over 12 000 personnel has never been included in these surveys.


Researchers for this institute have revealed that the Office of the President has listed the military base as one of the no go areas for their surveys. Some of the prohibited areas are prisons which hold thousands of inmates and Game Reserves which are often homes to many tribal people of Sesarwa origin.


“When we do statistics we are not allowed to go to prisons, military bases and game reserves,” pointed out Professor Mogopodi Lekorwe of the Afrobarometer.


The restriction comes with the survey permit issued by the Office of the President before the commencement of any survey.  The researchers were speaking in Gaborone this week during a stakeholders meeting where the Afrobarometer round six survey was reviewed.


The round six survey was an opinion poll of Batswana on the quality of democracy and governance in Botswana with special focus on the level of trust on government institutions, judiciary, political representatives and the country’s presidency.


The restriction on the army barracks is also extended to statistics Botswana whose researchers are also denied access to the barracks.


However none of the researchers at the meeting wanted to admit publicly that the restrictions do have a bearing on the final results of the surveys.


Concerns were however raised by some of the academics during the meeting that corruption that might be going on in the army might be systematic and could only surface through proper studies. The contention was that it was seemingly not so tidy for the Office of the President to be prescribing who does not have to participate in the survey as it was a conflicted party in issues of governance and especially that the President was the commander in chief of the Military.


The concerns by local Academics are supported by an army personnel, Dan Henk of the American Air Force who previously made findings about the BDF and its control by the country’s President.


In his report, titled Evolution of a professional African military, Professor Henk 
suggested that considerable power is concentrated in the office of the President and this according to him has very specific ramifications for the military.


“The powerful position of the executive branch in relationship to the Defence Force raises another key question relating to civil- military relations in Botswana how are decisions made on substantive issues of national security policy? The most perceptive observers of national politics in Botswana believe that essential security-related decisions are made by a small group of senior officials that are close confidantes of the president, with limited consultation outside this circle, a feature difficult to reconcile with liberal democratic norms of accountability and transparency. Significantly, this inner circle includes the past and present commanders of the BDF. Clearly, the senior military leadership is well represented in the councils of state, ” Henk  pointed out.


He further added that the “concentration of power is more worrisome in view of a peculiar obsession for secrecy on the part of both the executive branch and the military itself. This not only applies to the large issues of operations and equipment acquisition but also extends to very mundane and seemingly innocuous issues, including the exact size of the force and the levels of pay and allowances for personnel.”


A National Security Act prohibits the disclosure of any information the government considers privileged, with penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021
Kebonang

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.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

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.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021
boko-and-khama

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.

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