Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairmanship aspirant, Tebelelo Seretse has expressed her views on the prospect of Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi contesting for chairmanship of the party. According to Seretse, it is highly unlikely that the Vice President will express interest because of the workload associated with the office he is holding and the status quo of the party at the present moment.
The race for central committee positions ahead of the 2015 congress slated for July is yet to crystallize and lobby lists come into the open, but Seretse told WeekendPost that “I am back in the country, and I am definitely standing for the position of chairman.” She just returned from the United States of America where she has been Ambassador.
“The Vice President may contest, but my honest opinion is that he has a lot on his plate because the Office of the Vice President is a very busy one,” she said. From Seretse‘s responses it is evident that she is aware of a strong lobby urging the Masisi to go for the chairmanship of the party. However Seretse is of the view that the position of chairman will not just be ceremonial this time around, she said the party needs a person with ample time, who will traverse the length and breadth of the country to re-ignite BDP members.
But Masisi supporters are taking none of Seretse’s justifications, they believe the Vice President is bet place to lead the party and also use the platform to ingratiate himself to the party faithful.
“I was surprised that we lost 20 seats to the opposition in the 2014 general election, but to lose all the three wards in the recent bye-elections actually shocked. It is demonstration that we need to get our hands dirty and put the BDP back where it belongs,” said Seretse. While there are suggestions that she could be asked to run for secretary general position, the former Botswana Ambassador to the US is adamant she wants to be BDP chairwoman.
Seretse says she has the pre-requisite hard work and experience to lead the BDP’s governing council.
President Lt Gen Ian Khama has already expressed views on the jostling for positions within the ruling party. He indicated that what is important is for the contests not to divide the party. According to Khama, the decision of whether he will contest or not is entirely up to him. He was responding to a question on an unwritten rule that the BDP used to prefer Vice President to also chair the party. “You must note that Gen Merafhe was never chairman of the [party when he was Vice President, and I was never chairman when I was Vice President,” President Khama told this publication.
However some party enthusiasts are adamant that if Masisi agrees to stand, Seretse and other contestants may be forced to reconsider their interests. Tebelelo Seretse may require extra gasoline for this race because it is still early days, in addition to Dikgakgamatso Seretse who has already expressed his interest in chairmanship; Tshekedi Khama is understood to be lobbying tirelessly because he wants to chair the BDP come July. Khama has confirmed his intentions to this publication.
Dikgakgamatso Seretse told this publication that he is contesting for the position of chairman because he wants to be part of a team that will see BDP rise from the difficult encounters of the last general election. He is one of the candidates who is already on the ground and canvassing for support.
Other candidates in the chairmanship race are Tati West Member of Parliament, Biggie Butale, who also confirmed to this publication that he is still working hard to lobby democrats to his side. He has already appointed a campaign manager to run around. Former BDP Youth Wing Chairman, Tshotego Dithapelo is also busy sending short text messages to party members asking for their support in his chairmanship bid.
There is a school of thought within the BDP suggesting that the BDP chairmanship race could take shape as soon as the race for secretary general position is clear. Incumbent, Mpho Balopi look set to defend his post and his running mate at chairmanship could be key to his survival. Although he is holding his cards close to his chest, Vice President Masisi is said to be Balopi’s preferred running mate. Botsalo Ntuane’s potential bid for secretary general is also said to be gaining traction and things should be taking shape early march as to whether he will go for the jugular.
Other permutations seem to suggest that the Youth Wing elections held at Masunga last weekend that saw Andy Boatile re-elected as chairperson could as well be a sign of where the central committee elections could go. Boatile is seen as a strong ally of current secretary general Mpho Balopi.
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.