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8 ministers fingered in plot to down BDP

At least eight cabinet ministers’ names are expected to be forwarded to Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairman, Slumber Tsogwane for allegedly conniving with opposition candidates in certain constituencies to defeat their own party colleagues, Weekendpost has reliably been informed.

The ministers in question are predominantly those who lost the BDP primary elections last year. Reports coming from highly placed sources suggest that the cabinet ministers are unhappy with the manner in which they lost the primaries. They allege that the process was contaminated and dubious and as a result they are finding it difficult to accept fraudulent election outcomes hence they would not endorse beneficiaries of a “duplicitous fiasco dubbed Bulela Ditswe” instead they prefer to watch the game as spectators.

However the alleged conduct of these ministers is distressing the victorious candidates; and they intend to register their complaints with the party Chairman, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane. The Vice President is expected to reconcile the warring parties in due course. It is not clear when the aggrieved lot will submit the names and whether they will forward them as a bloc or individually.

WeekendPost is nonetheless reliably informed that, Kanye North, Lentsweletau/ Mmopane, Selibe Phikwe East, Mmadinare, Mahalapye East, Takatokwane and Thamaga and Bobonong constituencies are fingered in this guerrilla style ambush of the ruling BDP. All these constituencies are currently under the custody of various ministers all of whom lost the controversial party primary elections. 

The tradition within the ruling BDP has always been that whoever loses primary elections should support the winner. But this time around with a high number of protests all citing irregularities; and subsequent re-runs which favoured only a few, some of the party members who lost are determined to have the last laugh. This was evident when various ministers petitioned the party with some going to the extent of going to the courts of law to seek redress. The disgruntlement over the primaries also palyed out when about 28 sitting BDP Councillors defected to the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF).

Reports from Phikwe East which is under Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi suggest that the parliamentary candidate, Amogelang Mojuta is concerned by his relationship with the minister. Molefhi is said to have folded his arms and not helping in the campaigns despite having a better appreciation of the constituency.

“The relationship is not satisfactory and this is likely to put the party at a disadvantage as those that support Molefhi are very much likely not to vote for Mojuta but any other candidate and this could put the BDP in a back foot,” one BDP member told WeekendPost. Molefhi was unhappy with the handling and conduct of the primary elections. He had registered his displeasure with the party and was denied a re-run.

The finger pointing is not only is Selibe Phikwe, in Kanye North which is under the former Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia could be gliding away from the BDP.  “It is project done covertly out there, and it might appear that they are together but at no point have we seen him and Letsholo (Thapelo) together and even endorsing him. As village leaders they do come to us and ask us to endorse opposition at the expense of the BDP candidate,” one Kanye headman told this publication in an interview.  

“I am not joining BPF like many people anticipate. I have been receiving calls from some of the residents enquiring about my intention of joining the party but I am focused on BDP. However, it is my choice to associate with Dr Ian Khama and nobody should question that; that’s filthy politics,” Ralotsia was quoted saying. The Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Ngaka Ngaka is also accused of conniving with opposition candidates in Takatokwane constituency. A senior party member in the region has confirmed to this publication that indeed the relationship between the minister and the BDP representative for the constituency has never been good.

“The tiff started when the party ordered a re-run after Friction Leuwe won the primaries. He (Leuwe) won again and the relationship reached the lowest ebb. On stage Ngaka may appear to be endorsing his mate but deep down as the constituents we know who is who in the zoo,” said the BDP member. The members have revealed that they are planning to seek audience with the party chairman just like they did when the party ordered a re-run.

Vincent Seretse, Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development and MP for Lentsweletau – Mmopane is also reported not to be interested in the game of politics. Nnaniki Makwinja is racing alone in a bitter war that could swing anywhere. While some had linked him with the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), Seretse has dismissed the allegations insisting, “Im still a BDP member,” he said when asked about endorsing Makwinja but could not dwell on their relationship.

The same accusations have been levelled against Kefentse Mzwinila who is Minister of Land Management Water and Sanitation Services and also Mmadinare legislator. Parliamentary hopeful Molebatsi Molebatsi is said to be also fighting the battle alone. However there is a twist here because this is one of the so called “safe BDP seats” because the opposition has not invested a lot in it.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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