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The BCP remains relevant

It is a journalistic ethic and a worldwide practice to grant individuals the right of reply by newspapers to anyone who has a strong view that they may have been misrepresented, to allow them to set the records straight.

However, it seems of late a number of local publications have notoriously violated this principle with impunity when it comes to Botswana Congress Party (BCP) officials wanting to exercise this right, even on the same platforms where someone may have pulled the wool over its views and character.

This unfortunate conduct by some media houses has a potential to stain and defile the integrity and reputation of the fourth state as an important source of unbiased and balanced reporting, which is critical in a democracy such as ours. It is therefore my hope that this time around, a temptation to muffle opinion will be avoided and I will be allowed to respond to some deliberate misinformation and misconceptions about my party, the BCP, that have littered the papers since the last elections.

Denying me that right to set the records straight will be practically the same as violating an ethical standard of true journalism.

Since what some commentators have called a “dismal” performance by the BCP in the last elections, there has emerged from the woods impressionists, yes, parrots, bo bokolela di tlhabane, who behave like the proverbial lunatic who has stumbled upon a whistle.

We all know how irritating a whistle in the hands of a lunatic can be. They have assumed the role of sangomas and fortune tellers who even have the bravery to prescribe what is good for the BCP ahead of its members and the more than 140 000 people who cast their vote for the party. One ingenious singer has put up a line that best describes such characters in one of her songs when she said, “go lela fela le tse di senang marole.


One such character is a self-appointed counterfeit analyst by the name Bernard Tibone Busani who behaves like a puppy barking without purpose with his uncoordinated rumblings. He is one of the excited zealots who think that the recent performance by the Umbrella For Democratic Change (UDC) in the elections have given them some driving force to venture into political commentary. We want to respond to Busani’s consignment of balderdash.

We ignored him when he first emerged from the trench, but like the proverbial lunatic who has picked a whistle and is making himself a centre of attraction, his irritation can no longer be put up with lest it pollute the minds of the unsuspecting readers with its discordant noise.

His articles are littered with lies, inconsistencies obviously springing from the lack of knowledge of the truth. Makgoa ba re little knowledge is dangerous and that is how sneering crude characters like Busani can be if left unchecked. 

Busani writes, “what has been said and is the truth is that the BCP walked away from the umbrella talks because of disagreement on five if not two constituencies.

The BCP did not finish the umbrella talks, which talks they initiated and embraced”. From the above, it is either Busani is imperceptive or he is downright obtuse. He is not even sure about what was the reason why the talks collapsed yet he thinks he is qualified to charge the BCP with treason. It is Busani’s own testimony that he is not sure if there was disagreement with five or two constituencies.

He also admits that this is not what he knows but what was said. Said by who? Strangely, based on what he is not sure of, he has the bravery to incriminate the BCP. How implausible! This is indeed a gross act of academic dishonesty.

The truth that Busani and his likeminded need to told is that the BCP never walked away from the talks.

The talks collapsed and a communiqué declaring the collapsed was signed by the presidents of the four negotiating parties being the BCP, Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), and was pronounced by the president of the BNF in full view of the public and the media.

This is not what was said, but rather what happened. It is not the hearsay that Busani and other lost souls are peddling as the gospel truth. Where does Busani pick the walking out he alleges was committed by the BCP here, if this is not a figment of his fertile imagination?

The other truth that Busani his bunch of tittle-tattlers need to know and not the things that he has heard in the dark streets is that a few hours before the umbrella one talks were pronounced as collapsed, both the BNF and the BCP, who during the talks never had any disagreements, made a joint offer to the BMD, who were in fact the problem party throughout the talks.

It is on record that the BMD rejected such an offer which had given them all but one constituency were they were incumbent, plus six other constituencies. For starters, the only constituency that BMD were incumbent then and was not included in the joint offer was Ramotswa, but in its place, the BCP had traded off Mogoditshane, a more winnable constituency than the former. 

There was a reason why the BCP which Busani has already admitted is a champion of opposition cooperation and initiated the talks, wanted to hold on to Ramotswa. It will be remembered, (and Busani should listen very carefully because it will benefit him to better his engagement on issues of opposition cooperation in Botswana), after the BNF and its partner in crime, the BPP, walked out the opposition cooperation talks in 2007, BCP and the former Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM), remained at the table and agreed on a PACT arrangement going into the 2009 general election. The two parties produced a joint manifesto which was titled “The Nation at Crossroads”.

They also had one presidential candidate who at that time was Cde Gilson Saleshando. It is common knowledge the BCP-BAM pact produced impressive results, winning five seats in parliament, one seat behind the BNF who went into the election with nine seats after losing three through irrational expulsions from the twelve it had after 2004 general election, and about seventy six council seats, surpassing the BNF in this regard.

Immediately after 2009 elections, the BCP and BAM agreed to merge to form a single party, the current BCP which has a cow symbol.

The merger set out preliminary conditions which were to run until the merger has fully matured. One of the conditions was that the BAM president who was then Rre Lepetu Setshwaelo shall assume the vice presidency of the new BCP. Another condition was that Ramotswa, a constituency that Rre Setshwaelo contested under the BCP ticket in 2009 and lost narrowly to the Odirile Motlhale, be reserved for him.

This was in 2010, the same year that other political developments happened such as the formation of a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) breakaway party, the BMD after the expulsion of the late Gomolemo Motswaledi. 

During the talks the BMD adopted a rigid position that they wanted to be given all the constituencies that they were incumbent.

They even developed a slogan, “incumbency or nothing”, which was quite an irrational position in any negotiation where parties should be prepared for a give and take principle. Both the BNF and the BCP were able to bend to accommodate the BMD which had not contested the elections in 2009. In the case of Ramotswa the BMD was made aware of other concessions that have taken place between BCP and BAM before the talks started such as reserving Ramotswa for Rre Setshwaelo.

The BCP which had performed exceptionally well in Mogoditshane in 2009, winning three council seats and losing the constituency with a margin of less than a thousand to the BDP, was ready to trade off that constituency in place of Ramotswa. But the BMD would not take any of it and they insisted on their incumbency or nothing stance. During the impasse, at some point the labour movements through their umbrella body, were roped in to mediate, but BMD couldn’t budge.

This is what happened and not what has been said which Busani and other zealots should take and avoid peddling falsehood.

It is absurd for Busani to say the BCP did not finish the umbrella talks. He fails to state at what stage did the BCP abandon the talks. Of course this is an obvious lie that has been peddled by people who seem to master the dishonourable act of lying.

It has already been demonstrated above that the talks collapsed, and the reasons were stated by the conveners, the pronouncement of the collapse was made, publicly by the BNF president, who also doubles as the UDC president and leader of opposition in parliament. Where then does Busani get the walkout by the BCP when all the evidence is there that points to the fact the talks collapsed? 

We know that the UDC used the above lie as their potency enhancer and fuel in their hatred against the BCP driven “moono” slogan. Like we have said before, moono was a call to hate the BCP because the UDC believed that in order for them to gain some semblance of relevancy to Botswana politics, they should at most be second to BDP and out class the BCP at all costs, even if that comes at the expense of the credibility of some in their leadership.

The case is point is the lies they peddled around to instil fear in the hearts of unsuspecting public in the run up to election. Bed time stories such as the existence of a hit list (which they no longer talk about), allegations that Gomolemo Motswaledi was assassinated (a report which was promised, but seems to be a forgotten thing); that the BCP President was doing business with BDP members, something they failed to bring forth evidence, were all splodges that the perpetrators are ashamed to face the nation at this point to say it was just a polluted, grubby campaign strategy which it is no longer necessary to pursue since it has achieved its intended objective. But the truth is, the integrity of most of them, including at a broader sense, the organisations they represent, have been soiled beyond redemption.

They are now viewed as untrustworthy.

Busani is clearly wallowing in darkness, he needs urgent help. He claims that the BCP’s grand plan was to kill the BNF when they came up with the umbrella model as a model of cooperation. Tota gatwe motho yo o tswa kae? The umbrella model was the brain child of the BMD.

The BCP had proposed the pact model which it had used in the previous election with BAM and paid off. It is a fact that after the collapse of the umbrella talks that the BCP participated in, the party wrote a letter to the BNF requesting for a formal meeting to see if the two cannot forge a working relationship since they didn’t have any differences during the negotiations.

Most BNF central committee members believed so too. But the BNF president who appeared to have other interests snubbed this gesture by the BCP. He started to play hide and seek with his own central committee. We later heard that he had been promised the presidency of the umbrella party if he can support the BMD on their incumbency stance (maybe that explains why he was never subjected to a vote to become the UDC president). There was even fallout with members of the executive committee of the BNF.

Many would remember that the BNF vice president Rre Isaac Mabiletsa, the Secretary General Cde Akanyang Magama, the Deputy Secretary General Dr Nono Kgafela Mokoka, the secretary of International Affairs, Mephato Reatile, member of parliament for Kanye North Cde Kentse Rammidi and many others, later left the BNF to join the BCP and some the BDP. If at all the BCP had any intention to kill the BNF as alleged by Busani, would the BCP have courted the BNF for further talks after the initial collapse?

The BNF president Duma Boko is on record after the collapse of the initial talks saying that he does not want to work with the BCP because the later hurt the former in 1998 and that he only wants to work with the BMD and BPP under the umbrella model (Reference: The Botswana Guardian). 

Down his article Busani displays his political dwarfism in a dramatic fashion. He is mottled, bamboozled and enthralling.

He lacks composure. He is illogical, lucid and grossly irrational in all manner of imagination. He lists what he purports to be truth about the BCP. But the truth is that none of what his claims are truths about the BCP comes anyway near the measure of truth. He is indeed a prophet of doom,, a political fortuity who is not known in the political analysis market place.

He senselessly asks, “Where are the shadow ministers? What was the real purpose? How do you have a shadow minister outside parliament?” Uhu! Such imbecility is amazing for someone who wants to be taken seriously. 

Busani believes there were no differences in the UDC and BCP manifestos.

Ao bathong! Didn’t the BCP talk about a land audit which the UDC opposed with so much vigour and instead concurred with the BDP driven LAPCAS? Didn’t the BCP talk about bringing back our jobs which the UDC through its president also opposed and instead agreed with the BDP that Botswana is not yet ready for beneficiating its minerals and other raw materials to employ the many unemployed young people? I think Busani needs to have his head examined thoroughly.

He is not in a good way.

The BCP remain focussed and believes that it remain the voice of the more than 140 000 Batswana who cast their votes in its favour. The BCP will not be derailed by incoherent characters the likes of Busani, but it continues to push its message through its representatives in parliament, local authorities and outside parliament.

We shall continue talking the message of land audit; we will not relent on calling the BDP government to account. Our voice will not deem on issues of youth un-employment, the use of the mother tongue. Lastly, the BCP will never be forced into any marriage of convenience that some see as a fast lane to power, even if it means replacing the BDP with another Domkrag with a different name. We will continue to push the agenda for true transformation of this country, economically, socially and politically. 

Banks Ndebele writes from Mogoditshane

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Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: “If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.”

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties — ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswana’s democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogae’s assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.  This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in the Bulela Ditswe dispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswe was an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties – ruling and opposition — have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

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The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumer’s piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswana’s, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they don’t imagine that their one download will do anything to the production house’s pocket or make a dent in the actors’ net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musician’s music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that “illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth”.

As Botswana’s creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africa’s respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswana’s economy are being diverted.

“Why can’t our local creative industry grow?” “Why don’t we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana?” are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswana’s local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the country’s economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, it’s imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economy’s growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artist’s music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

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Our Strength is our Unity

18th March 2022

Putin Chose War.  We Remain United with Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Craig L. Cloud

This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world.  By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy.  But the people of Ukraine are resilient.

They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world.  The United States, together with our Allies and partners across the globe, will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country.  By choosing to pay for a war instead of investing in the needs of Russians, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a strategic failure for the Kremlin and ravage the future of the Russian people.

When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left the West more unified and Russia exponentially weaker.

United in Our Response

This will not end well for Vladimir Putin.  Together, the United States and our Allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable.  As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.

President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology.  After Putin began his invasion, the ruble hit its weakest point in history, and the Russian stock market plunged.

Along with the United Kingdom and European Union, the United States imposed sanctions on the architects of this war, including Putin himself.

By moving in close coordination with a powerful coalition of Allies and partners representing more than half of the global economy, we have magnified the impact of our actions to impose maximum costs on Putin and his regime.  In response to Putin’s war of choice, we will limit Russia’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars.

We will stunt Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military.  We will impair Russia’s ability to compete in the global economy.  And we are prepared to do more.

In addition to economic penalties, this week President Biden authorized an additional $1 billion over the $350 million of security assistance he recently approved, and a $650 million in 2021, to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to $2 billion.

We also stand ready to defend our NATO Allies.  President Biden has coordinated with Allied governments to position thousands of additional forces in Germany and Poland as part of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense.

He authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks:  Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.  Our Allies have also added their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense.  There should be no doubt about the readiness of the greatest military Alliance in the history of the world:  NATO is more united than ever.

The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies.  We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.

Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War

This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time.  He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border.  He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.

He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our Allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.

Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do.  We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas.  We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine.  We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.

Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there.  We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.

And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law.  Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine.  Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.

We have been transparent with the world.  We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up.  Putin is the aggressor.  Putin chose this war.  And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.

Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever

Putin’s goal of dividing the West has failed.  In the face of one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our Allies and partners have joined together in solidarity.  We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provided assistance to Ukraine, developed a broad response, and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO.

Putin has failed to divide us.  Putin has failed to undermine our shared belief in the fundamental right of sovereign nations to choose their destiny and their allies.  And Putin will fail to erase the proud nation of Ukraine.

The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine.  Putin has unleashed great suffering on them.  But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.

The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.

Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically.  The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.

Liberty, democracy, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression.  In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake:  Freedom will prevail.

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