BPF, UDC to formally join forces
The Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) is moving to formalise its relationship with Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), a coalition of three opposition parties, WeekendPost has established.
BPF, which is the splinter party of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), was established on the eve of 2019 general elections, managing to garner three seats in the country’s most highly anticipated polls in history. Insiders informed this publication that formalising relations with UDC formed one of the major issues discussed at BPF National Executive Committee this week, where they also discussed readying for both the Youth League and Women’s League Congress.
Task teams have since been established to spearhead the work, sources revealed. However, it has also been established that BPF is yet to officially write the letter to UDC leadership, but the process is expected to be initiated anytime soon. When asked about the new developments, President of the BPF Biggie Butale, could not comment on the matter stating that if there are any changes the press will be informed at the right time.
The BPF was engaged in a complicated relationship with UDC in the run up to the 2019 general elections, where it provided support to the latter candidates in constituencies that it was not contesting. BPF contested 18 constituencies, all of them in Central region, where the party patron and former President, Lt Gen Ian Khama enjoys popularity.
Khama is credited with helping opposition, UDC in particular, to wrestle constituencies which opposition has never won since independence. For the first time, opposition won constituencies like Sefhare/Ramokgonami, Palapye, Shoshong, Mahalapye East, Mahalapye West as well as the three Serowe constituencies. On the flipside, Khama’s relationship with UDC is blamed for the coalition’s dismal performance in the southern part of Botswana. Opposition lost its traditional stronghold to BDP, a development which helped the ruling party to cling to power.
The 2019 polls saw BDP emerging with 38 seats, followed by the UDC with 15. BPF three, while Alliance for Progressives (AP) got only one. However, the result was not without blemish, as the UDC challenged the outcomes, albeit unsuccessful, claiming that there was “massive vote rigging” in at least 15 constituencies. UDC was not successful in its bid, as the High Court came to a conclusion that the petitions before the court did not comply with the requirements.
The Court of Appeal later dismissed the case on the basis that it had no jurisdiction on the matter. The arrival of the BPF will also be met by other developments in the coalition. Botswana Congress Party, which emerged as the most successful among coalition partners with 11 seats, its highest since formation, has caused an ease within the party. It is reported that, the BCP is pushing for its leader, Dumelang Saleshando to assume the reins of UDC, and also want coalition partners to consider reconfiguration of the UDC in favour of a total merger.
The BCP Youth League has already released a statement calling for Boko to expedite his resignation from the UDC. The Young Turks also attributed UDC’s dismissal performance in the southern part of Botswana to the UDC leader. The BCP youth wing has since retracted its statement, but many believe the damage has been done and trust has been broken. Meanwhile the Alliance for Progressives leader, Ndaba Gaolathe has indicated that he will announce the future of AP with regard to coalition politics at the party annual policy statement scheduled for February.
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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup
With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.
Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.
The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.
Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.
“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.
Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.
Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.
For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.
Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS
The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.
When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.
Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.
She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.
During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.
Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017
Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.
According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd, the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.
However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.
“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.
While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.
“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.
The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.