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Merafhe’s memoir attacks Saleshandos

BCP presidency in blatantly monarchical manner

The late former Vice President Mompati Merafhe has described Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President and his father as hypocrites for criticising the accession of Lt. Gen Ian Khama to the Vice Presidency in 1998 only for Gilson Saleshando to exercise a similar gambit directly to his son’s favour.

Merafhe who passed away on the 7th of January this year wrote in his autobiography which was launched this week that in 1998, Gilson Saleshando and his party bristled at the accession to the vice presidency of President Khama just because he was the son of the first president, Sir Seretse Khama.

Merafhe wrote that what BCP then went to do when Dumelang Saleshando succeeded his father in 2010 at Maun Congress was blatantly monarchical.  Merafhe stated that it was an open secret that the father decided to step down for no reason other than to pave way for the son; a passing of the torch that had actually been four years in the making. “It was virtually a coronation, which was disguised as a democratic changing of the guard at the party’s ‘elective’ congress,” he wrote.

In his book, Merafhe said he was surprised by Dumelang Saleshando’s insistence that he should retire from politics due to old age in a manner evocative of his own father who had stepped down as BCP president in July 2010. “My response therefore was that since BDP and the government were not a monarchy, I was in no hurry to relinquish my post to pass the baton dynastically on to some relative waiting in the ways,” he said.

Merafhe stated that although he did not want to believe the Saleshando family had strong hatred for him, he contended the two evinced a certain rancour at him that just stopped short of being spiteful. “At times, the incentives they hurled in my direction were such that I felt harassed and insulted,” he expressed. “It may have been a case of simply of playing politics- I do not know- but my ego did take a substantial bashing.”

Merafhe made it clear in the book that he did not see Dumelang Saleshando as an adversary and he rated his intelligence highly. “When I look at young Saleshando I do not see an adversary per se: I saw otherwise brilliant and articulate son of the soil who I hoped would mellow with age,” he wrote.

Merafhe on the book attributed Saleshando’s acumen to the free education that BDP-led government provided, and noted that it was not going to waste since it could turn out products of high intellectual acumen. “It was a delight to listen to the young man put forward his views so logically and with a striking mastery of the English language even if the views might come across as off base in the grand scheme of things,” he mentioned.

The former army chief said opposition ideas were always populist and did not consider the factors that influenced the government he was part of. Merafhe said at the height of economic meltdown the then Leader of the Opposition, Otsweletse Moupo of Botswana National Front (BNF) called for government to abolish school fees, reduce taxes, increase the salaries of civil servants and go on a borrowing spree to fund pensions and other social security programmes.

Merafhe is of the firm belief that government did a sterling job during the economic recession and managed to save thousands of jobs as compared to cutting them like other countries did.

The former Mahalapye West legislator also lamented that the opposition hardly respected the President Khama to a degree that bordered on contempt and obloquy. “They seemed to view him as president of BDP and not as the state president,” he argued.

“One backbencher from the ranks of the opposition made direct insinuations to the effect that the president was a foreigner. Another said the president was capable of coming to the honourable house and all of them. Such utterances were not only juvenile and ludicrous but raised serious aspersions on the utterers’ state of mind.”

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BCP, AP stalemate in 7 constituencies

21st March 2023

When the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Alliance for Progressives, Botswana Labour Party (BLP), and conveners reconvene next week, the controversial issue of allocation of the seven constituencies will be the main topic of discussion, WeekendPost can reveal.

Not only that, but the additional four constituencies will also dominate the talks. The idea is to finally close the “constituency allocation phase,” which has proven to be the most difficult part of the ongoing negotiations.

Earlier this year, the two parties announced that the marathon talks would be concluded by February. Even at a media briefing last month, BCP Secretary General Goretetse Kekgonegile and Publicity Secretary Dr. Mpho Pheko were optimistic that the negotiations would be concluded before the end of February.

However, it is now mid-March and the talks have yet to be concluded. What could be the reasons for the delay? This is a question that both Kekgonegile and Pheko have not responded to, as they have ignored the reporters’ inquiries. However, a senior figure within the party has confided to this publication as to what is delaying the highly anticipated negotiations.

“We are reconvening next week to finalize constituency allocations, taking into account the additional four new ones plus the outstanding seven,” he explained. It later surfaced that Gaborone Central, Gaborone North, Mogoditshane, Tswapong North, Francistown West, Tati West, and Nata Gweta are all contested by both BCP and AP. This is because the other 50 constituencies were allocated by December of last year.

The three parties have failed to find common ground for the Bosele Ward by-elections. Are these constituencies not a deal breaker for the talks? “None of the constituencies is a deal breaker,” responded a very calm BCP official.

In Bosele Ward, AP has yielded to BCP, despite most of its members disapproving the decision. On the other hand, BLP has refused, and it will face off with BCP together with Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

The decision by BLP to face off with BCP has been labelled as a false start for the talks by political observers.

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Botswana approves extradition of British fugitive

21st March 2023

Raiz Ahmed Tayub, a British fugitive sought by Interpol for his involvement in human trafficking and slave trade crimes, was captured by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) earlier this year.

Merapelo Mokgosi, the Assistant Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), confirmed that he will be extradited to France, where he is wanted for his crimes.

“It is true that Tayub will be extradited to France, where he has been wanted for some time,” says Mokgosi.

She explained that the fugitive was arrested by the Botswana Police in early January while attempting to enter Botswana through the Pioneer border gate. Since his arrest, he has been appearing before the Lobatse Magistrate Court to fight his release from custody and to object to his extradition to France. During his court appearance, Tayub opted for voluntary extradition.

“He opted for voluntary extradition, which the extradition Act allows,” said Mokgosi. She added that the suspect was not under duress when he chose voluntary extradition. Soon after he made this choice, the Ministry of Justice was notified, and the minister approved his extradition. Preparations are still underway to fly the wanted man to France, and once the necessary paperwork is completed between the two nations, the suspect will be extradited.

Mokgosi indicated that plans were still being made to complete the suspect’s extradition to France, and the Botswana government would pay for his flight along with his escort.

Meanwhile, the court has ordered the Botswana Prison Services (BPS) to provide the Islamic British fugitive with “halal food” while he is in custody.

In an earlier court application, Tayub had asked to be detained at a five-star hotel, as he could pay for it until the completion of his case. He also argued that he should not have to wear a prison uniform due to the Covid-19 outbreak. He was thought to have been traveling to Malawi at the time of his capture.

When delivering the order, the principal magistrate, Gofaone Morwang, said the detainee should be provided with halal daily rations with immediate effect while he is in custody. The magistrate dismissed TAYUB’s application for hotel detention and exemption from wearing a prison uniform.

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Botswana approves extradition of British fugitive

20th March 2023

Raiz Ahmed Tayub, a British fugitive sought by Interpol for his involvement in human trafficking and slave trade crimes, was captured by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) earlier this year.

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