Court had dismissed AG, Tafa and the BDP with costs
Collins Newman has slapped the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with a bill estimated at P2.4 million. Party lawyer, Parks Tafa led a team from Collins Newman and Co which represented the party in a case in which it had partnered with the Attorney General to challenge the constitutionality of amendments made to the Parliament standing orders.
The BDP was initially cited in the case as a respondent together with opposition parties, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Umbrella for Democratic Chance (UDC) but later swayed on the side of the Attorney General. They party disclosed through its lawyers that it shared the same views held by the Attorney General’s Office. The AG’s case was later dismissed with costs by three judges. But was appealed by the BDP.
This publication learns that the initial bill from Collins Newman to the BDP currently stands at P2.4 million. The BDP officials could not respond to inquiries by the Weekend Post on Thursday. The party Secretary General, Mpho Balopi said he was outside the country but later responded when engaged through an SMS, “On matters of charges and payments please contact the treasurer Mr Satar Dada or Hon Thapelo Olopeng. I am outside the country in Geneva.”
Dada however refused to comment when engaged on the matter, saying “No , no speak to Balopi on that. He is the one who has answers”. Efforts to contact Dada’s deputy were futile as his phone rang unanswered on Thursday evening. Tafa hung up on this reporter when he was contacted, “I am in London, bye’ is all he could say before he could even hear the reason behind the call.
Reports suggest that Tafa’s bill was recently discussed at length at the BDP Central Commitee meeeting held on Monday. Some, it is understood, were not happy with the bill arguing that Tafa cannot charge that much as he is the one who initiated the case.
We spoke to other political parties to find out how they deal with their legal representatives. Taolo Lucal of the BCP, said their lawyers always put the party first as they understand well its pockets. “They always charge with a bit of sanity and liniency.”
He together with his president, Dumelang Saleshando said their lawyers have not yet given them the bill. UDC leader,Duma Boko and his party spokesperson’s phones were off on Thursday evening. Repeated efforts to contact them did not bear any fruits.
All the three parties recently splashed their hard-earned money in the just-ended highly competitive national elections. The elections was regarded as the most expensive in the history of Botswana elections.
Asked about the Tafa-BDP case, post parliamentary elections, the President, Lt Gen Ian Khama revealed that he knew that they did not have a case but just wanted to go to court to avert ugly possibilities which he had heard of within the BDP. But the then Speaker, Margaret Nasha described the case as the most ‘laughable and ridiculous’.
Khama responded in a clarity-seeking interview with Weekendpost: “Let me explain that because we have been abused on that case, the truth of the matter is that someone I would not reveal his identity confided to me that some people want to challenge the said standing orders and I approached the Attorney General and the party lawyer, Parks Tafa about the matter and it was agreed that we had to clear the matter before the courts to avoid any embarrassment after we had made our elections and everything,” he said.
According to Khama, Tafa and the Attorney General had no case but just wanted to clear the ground. The submissions raised by the Attorney General and the BDP lawyer, Tafa who argued at length the case and even went as far as appealing were that the standing orders are unconstitutional and that they may plunge this country into a constitutional crises.
The confusing part however is that Nasha speaks a totally different story to the case. She has revealed that the Attorney General had prior to the case requested her to suspend the standing orders under question and she refused.
Khama continued that it was on the 23rd of October that he heard that the elections may be challenged as unconstitutional. Khama says he later learnt that the matter was blown out of proportion.
“For the record I am one of those who support the secret ballot system. I actually wanted it to be upheld because people were saying these are internal BDP wars playing themselves out at their expenses. The BDP decision at Parliament to vote unanimously without anyone monitoring or intimidating them has shown that we are a united party as shown by our votes,” he said, after the election of Speakers and endorsement of the Vice President.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.