Before the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) could even celebrate its triumphant 2019 general election victory, the party faithful is already hunting for the next secretary general of the party as the future preoccupies their 2020 agenda – they want an agent of renewal to breathe life into President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi’s promise to renew the ruling party.
Cocktail conversations marked by uncertainty are dominating BDP circles, and from various sources, it is evident that the party wants to continue of the path of ‘renewal’ as promised by its leader President, Dr Masisi. What is also emerging though, is that this is likely to be a completely different BDP where leadership positions are likely to be contested for ‘genuinely’ with very little magic of influence from the leadership.
BDP members are hopeful that the behind the scenes systematic handpicking of office bearers may just be over. This President may just allow a natural selection that will be punctuated by the ‘winner takes all’ principle.“Most of those in the current central committee are of the view that Democrats should allowed to throw in their names for leadership positions and elected accordingly. The probability of the leadership giving direction as to who should be elected is at a minimal,” opined a BDP insider who preferred not to be named.
At the heartbeat of the ensuing leadership contestation is the position of secretary general, by historic analysis, the most powerful after the President in the BDP hierarchy. Reverberations and echoes of ‘Who?’ Why?’ ‘Really’ dominate muted lobbying currently besieging the party that was founded in 1962 to push Botswana’s eminent Independence from the Queen of England.
This publication has it in good authority that Kanye North Member of Parliament, THAPELO LETSHOLO is one of the fashionable names in the lobby cabins. Whilst some see him as a party intern and still wet behind the ears politically speaking, those who are pushing for his candidacy for the position of secretary general are convinced that he represents ‘renewal’.
Letsholo is one of BDP’s freshmen who were expected to make the cut to cabinet only to fall short at the declaration of the President. Although talk is that he was disappointed, the youthful Member of parliament whose physical features satisfy the general public scale of good aesthetics has found a voice in Parliament, slowly but slowly molding himself to become ‘The voice of reason’ in the BDP backbench.
Not only is his name being touted to be synonymous with cleanliness, hope, renewal, and unifier – his would be sponsors are likening him to the maverick former BDP Executive Secretary, and later Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane. They point out that when he stepped into the secretary general’s office, Ntuane was untainted hence his reign saw very little upheaval and muted factions.
As for his inexperience, Letsholo is expected to make up for it with his intelligence and market place experience he got in the corporate world – he has worked for Kgalagadi Breweries and Debswana among other companies. Letsholo is also a self made entrepreneur. There is competition for the Kanye legislator, former MP for the same constituency, KENTSE RAMMIDI is also mentioned along as a possible candidate. Rammidi is an experienced politician. He has been a cabinet minister and is known to command the ground very well. Interestingly he has served (briefly) as party secretary general before quitting unceremoniously at the height of Khama’s intolerance to dissent within the party.
Rammidi main blemish could be his sojourn to opposition politics after being frustrated by former President Dr Lt Gen Ian Khama back in 2011. Rammidi resigned his cabinet post and quit the ruling party in protestation after Government shoved teachers in to the essential; service category. To some, Rammidi does not fit the renewal template, he has a baggage of dumping the party and speaking ill of it. However, some understand the circumstances around his opposition sojourn, they have welcomed him back to the BDP.
Rammidi campaigned for the BDP in the 2019 general elections. Those who are antagonizing Rammidi’s candidacy throw around a theory that he is acting on the ricochet because he is unhappy with his failed mission to be posted to Ethiopia on Ambassadorial assignment. “We learn that he was blocked by some senior party officials who felt that he is still new because he recently returned from opposition politics,” theorized a fervent supporter of the former Kanye North legislator.
BOYCE SEBETLELA, who traversed the Central District during the 2019 election campaign trail to help the BDP neutralize former President Khama’s vitriolic propaganda against the BDP and President Masisi, is also a man on a mission. He seeks to return to mainstream politics as the secretary general of the ruling party. Sebetlela is also a former legislator and those close to developments believe that his ambitious are bigger that the secretary general position.
Their diagnosis is that the former Palapye MP wants to stage a political comeback right from Tsholetsa House, he wants to stand for Palapye constituency in the 2024 elections. They speculate that his horizon could as well be beyond Tsholetsa House and Cabinet. But as Democrats toss innumerable names, the fact of the matter is that there is no vacancy yet.
The office of the secretary general is currently occupied by MPHO BALOPI, the Member of Parliament for Gaborone North who is also the Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity & Skills Development. Following his resounding general election victory, there is no doubt that Balopi commands sizeable political currency compared to some of those who want to subtract him from the BDP governing structure.
At a recent press conference the secretary general made statements to the effect that he is yet to decide on whether he should defend the position or not. He also threw in a word of caution to aspirants, that party members should not breach party rules and regulations by campaigning before season. He holds the office that implements and advises the President.
From this statement, by way of deductive reasoning, one could decipher that Balopi, who is credited with the BDP’s powerful branding during the 2019 campaign, still needs time to decide his next move and would not be in favour of any party member who would bend the rules to get a head start. The position of secretary general is very powerful and it is right at the BDP verdict making pot, decisions are made and breached at the very same office. Taking into account his experience, Balopi’s incumbency should come in handy should he decides to run.
There is a long queue at Tsholetsa House, of late, LESANG MAGANG is reported to be interested in the position. This is a second cameo for Magang who is likely to paint himself as a victim of the intolerance of the past BDP regime. He may argue fresh and new ideas to warp his agenda around President Masisi’s renewal message.
Lesang Magang has a history pf being linked to positions only for the report on intention to die down prematurely. The influence that his father, David Magang wields in today’s administration may just be what the doctor ordered to finally give Lesang Magang the impetus to push for the long haul, it remains to be seen.
Meanwhile KAGELELO BANKS KENTSE may not run for the position of secretary general. He is currently the Head of Communications subcommittee. By the admission of those close to him, Kentse acknowledges his shortcomings at the moment, “he is still inexperienced and new in the party because he was recruited from Botswana Movement for Democracy. But he could take a shot at the position of deputy secretary general,” notes an insider who also posits that SHAW KGATHI will not be available to defend this position because he may take up an offer of Ambassador in Asia.
ALFRED MADIGELE has been named by some BDP members as another name that could represent renewal which punctuates most of the President’s political speeches. Grapevine suggestion is that there is a team that is coercing the medical doctor who has stuck his foot at the practice to consider a political assignment.
From all the potential candidates, “it is evident that party members are thinking of the future, they want deal with the question of uncertainty – what does tomorrow hold for the party.” Two people, President Masisi and his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane are guaranteed a return to the party’s governing structure later this year.
In June 2019, a case involving the Attorney General was brought before the High Court, in which the applicant Letsweletse Motshidiemang challenged Sections 164 (a) and 167 of the Penal Code. The applicant contended that these sections are unconstitutional because they violate the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy.
The applicant argued that these sections violated his right and freedom to liberty as he was subject to abject ignominy. These laws subjected the LGBTIQ community to brutal and debasing treatment through social control and public morality. On the 1st of November 2017, the Botswana High Court further allowed Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) to join the case as amicus curiae.
However, in July 2019, the respondents, in this case, i.e. the Government, filed an appeal against this iconic High Court ruling seeking re-criminalization of homosexuality. Human Rights Group has criticized this move of the Government all over the world. The appeal was heard before five judges at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday. The State was represented by Advocate Sidney Pilane, while LEGABIBO and Letsweletse Motshidiemang were represented by Tshiamo Rantao and Gosego Rockfall Lekgowe, respectively.
Non-Governmental Organizations advocating for the LGBTIQ+ community joined the two parties at the Court of Appeal during this case. They argue that the minority group should enjoy their rights, especially the right to privacy and health. Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) Chief Executive Officer, Cindy Kelemi says the issues being raised by LEGABIBO are that as individuals belonging to the LGBTIQ community, they have and must share equal rights, including the right to privacy, which also speaks to being able to involve in sexual activities, including anal sex.
“Those rights are framed within the constitution, and therefore a violation of any of those rights allow them to approach the courts and seek for redress. We do not need the law to be regulating what we do in the privacy of our homes. The law cannot determine how and when we can have sex and with who, so the law does not have any business in that context. What we are saying is that the law is violating the right to privacy,” she said on the sidelines of the decriminalization case in Gaborone on Tuesday.
The first case involving the homosexual act was the Utjiwa Kanane vs the State in 2003. Contrary to section 164(c) of the Penal Code, Kanane was charged with committing an unnatural offence and engaging in indecent practices between males, contrary to section 167. The conduct at issue involved Graham Norrie, a British tourist, and occurred in December 1994. (Norrie pleaded guilty, paid a fine, and left the country.)
Kanane pleaded not guilty, alleging that sections 164(c) and 167 both violated the constitution. The High Court ruled that these sections of the Penal Code did not violate the constitution. Kanane then appealed to the Court of Appeal. BONELA CEO recalls that in its judgment then, the High Court indicated, Batswana were not ready for homosexual acts. Twenty years later, the same courts are saying that Batswana are ready, she says.
“They gave the explicit example that shows that indeed Batswana are ready. There are policies and documents in place that accommodate people from marginalized communities and minority populations. The question now is that why is it hard now to recognize the full rights of an individual who is of the LGBTI community?” She further says intimacy is only an expression. The law that restricts homosexuality makes it hard for LGBTIQ members to express themselves in a way that affirms who they are.
“We want a situation where the law facilitates for the LGBTIQ community to be free and express themselves. The stigma that they face in communities is way too punitive. They are called names; some have been physically violated and raped at times. It shows that the law doesn’t not only prevent them from expressing themselves, it also exposes them to violence.” The law on its own, Kelemi submits, cannot change the status quo, adding that there is a need for more awareness and education on human rights and what it means for an individual to have rights.
“As it is now, it is very tough for some to do that because of a legal environment that is not enabling. We also want to see a situation where LGBTIQ+ people can access services and be confident that they are provided with non-discriminatory services. It is challenging now because health care providers, social workers and law enforcement officers believe that it is illegal to be homosexual. What we are saying is that if you have an enabling law, then that will facilitate for people to be able to express themselves, including accessing health services,” Kelemi said.
“As we are doing this advocacy work, one of the issues that we picked up is that there is lack of capacity, especially on the part of healthcare workers. We noted that when we provide services or mobilize Men who have sex with other men (MSM) to access health facilities, health care workers are not welcoming, forcing them to hideaway. We must put an end to this to allow these people the freedom that they equally deserve.”
The President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, has declared as an act of corruption the attitude and practice by government officials and contractors to deliver projects outside time and budget, adding that such a practice should end as it eats away from the public coffers.
For a very long time, management problems and vast cost overruns have been the order of the day in Botswana, resulting in public frustrations. Speaking at the commissioning of the Masama/Mmamashia 100 Kilometres project this week, Masisi said: “There is a tendency in government to leave projects to drag outside their allocated completion time and budget. I want to stress that this will not be tolerated. It is an act of corruption, and I will be engaging offices on this issue,” Masisi said.
In an interview with this publication over the issue, the Director-General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Tymon Katholo, says, “any project that goes beyond its scope and budget raises red flags.” He continued that: “Corruption on these issues can be administrative and criminal. It may be because government officials have been negligent or been paid to be negligent by ignoring certain obligations or procedures. “This, as you may be aware has serious implications on not only of the economy but even the citizens who use these facilities or projects,” Katlholo said, adding that his agency is equally concerned.
According to the DCEC director, the selection, planning and delivery of infrastructure or projects is critical. In most cases, this is where the corruption would have occurred, leading to a troubled project. A public finance expert at the University of Botswana (UB), Emmanuel Botlhale, attributes poor project implementation to declining public accountability, lack of commitment to reforming the public sector, a decline in the commitment by state authorities and lack of a culture of professional project management.
In his research paper titled, ‘Enhancing public project implementation in Botswana during the NDP 11 period,’ Botlhale stated that successful implementation is critical in development planning. If there is poor project implementation, economic development will be stalled. Corruption is particularly relevant for large and uncommon projects where the public sector acts as a client, and experts say Megaprojects are very likely to be affected by corruption. Corruption worsens both cost and time performance and the benefits expected from such projects.
Speaking during this week’s Masama/Mmamashia pipeline commissioning, Khato Civils chairman said Africans deserve a chance because they are capable, further adding that the Africans do not have to think that only Whites and Chinese people can do mega projects. During his rule, former president Ian Khama went public to attack Chinese contractors for costing the government a move that ended up fuelling tensions between China and Botswana after Khama dispatched the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, to China to register Botswana’s complaints with Chinese government-owned construction companies. Botswana had approached the Chinese government for help in its marathon battle with Chinese companies contracted to build, among others, the failed controversial Morupule B power plant and refurbishment of Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSIK).
A legal battle between former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislator Samson Moyo Guma and First National Bank (FNB) over a multimillion oil refinery project intensified this week with Justice Zein Kebonang referring the matter to Court of Appeal for determination. The project belongs to Moyo Guma’s company called United Refineries which he has since placed under judicial management.
The war of words between Moyo Guma and FNB escalated after the company’s property worth millions of Pula were put up for sale in execution by the bank and scheduled to take place on 8th October. It emerges from Court papers that the bank had secured an order from the High Court to place the company’s property under the hammer.
Moyo Guma then also approached the High Court seeking among others that the public auction scheduled for 8th October 2021 be stayed. He contended that the assets that were to be sold belonged in reality to United Refineries and that as the company had been under judicial management at the time of the attachment, the intended sale in execution was unlawful.
He also sought the Court to declare that the writs of execution against the properties of guarantors and sureties of United Refineries Botswana Holdings Propriety Limited (the company) are unlawful. Moyo Guma also sought a stay of the execution against the property known as Plot 43556 in Francistown, that is, the land buildings, plant and machinery which make up the property and any all immovable or movable property belonging to the guarantors and sureties of the company pending finalization of the winding up of United Refineries.
But FNB disputed Moyo Guma’s assertions and submitted that the properties in question belonged to TEC (Pty) Ltd and not United Refiners. TEC Pty Ltd which is one of the shareholders in United Refineries is one of the sureties and co-principal debtors of a debt amounting to P24 million owed by United Refineries to FNB. FNB argued in papers that the properties belonged to TEC because it was TEC which had passed a covering mortgage bond in its favour over the property it now sought to execute.
Moyo Guma submitted that the covering mortgage bond passed in favour of FNB did not tell the full story as the property in question was in truth and fact owned by United Refineries and not TEC Pty Ltd. He maintained that the shares had been had been passed by the company in exchange for the properties in question and that the parties had always been guided by the spirt of the share agreement in dealing with each other despite delays in the change or transfer of ownership of plots 43556 and plot 43557 in Francistown.
Kebonang said it was clear to him that the two plots (43556 and 435570 belonged to United Refineries notwithstanding that TEC (Pty) Ltd had passed a mortgage bond over them in favour of FNB. “For this reason the properties were immune from attachment or sale in execution so long as the judicial management order was in place,” he said.
The background of the case is that Moyo Guma together with five other investors, namely Elffel Flats (Pty) Ltd; Mmoloki Tibe; TEC (Pty) Ltd; Profidensico (Pty) Ltd and Tiedze Bob Chapi, each bound themselves as sureties and co-principal debtors in respect of a debt owed by a company called United Refineries Botswana Holdings (Proprietary) Limited (the Company), to First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) (1st Respondent).
FNB had extended banking facilities to the company in the amount of P24 million which was then secured through the suretyship of Moyo Guma and other shareholders. Court records show that Moyo had on the 11th February obtained a temporary order for the appointment of a provisional judicial manager in respect of United Refineries and it was confirmed by the High Court on 24th September 2019.
In terms of the final court order by the High Court issued by Justice Tshepho Motswagole all judicial proceedings against the company, execution of all writs, summons and process were stayed and could only proceed with leave of Court. Court documents also show that First National Bank had sued the company and the sureties for the recovery of the debt owed to it and through a consent order, the bank withdrew its lawsuit against the company.
But FNB later instituted fresh proceedings against Moyo Guma and did not cite the company in its proceedings. “There is no explanation in the record as to why the Applicant was now reflected as the 1st Defendant and why the company had suddenly been removed as the 1st Defendant. There was no application either for amendment or substitution by the bank,” said Justice Kebonang.
FNB had also argued that it sought to proceed to execute against Moyo Guma and other sureties on the basis of the suretyship they signed and that by signing the suretyship agreement, Moyo and other sureties had renounced all defence available to them and could therefore be sued without first proceedings against the principal debtor (United Refineries). The question, Kebonang said, was that can FNB proceed to execute against Moyo Guma and other sureties on the basis of the suretyship contracts they signed?
“The starting point is that the Applicant (Moyo Guma) and others by binding themselves as sureties became liable for debts of the principal debtor and such liability is joint and several. He said the consequences of placing the company under judicial management means that every benefit extended to it should also extend to sureties.
“If the company is afforded more time to pay or its debt is discharged, reduced or compromised or suspended the obligation of sureties is to be likewise treated. It follows in my view that where judicial proceedings are suspended or stayed against the company, then any recourse against the sureties is similarly stayed or suspended,’ said Kebonang.
He added that “In the circumstances of this case, it seems to me that so long as the company is under judicial management, the moratorium that applies to it must also apply to its sureties/guarantors and no execution of the writs should be permitted against them. Any execution would be invalid.”
“Mindful that there is judicial precedent on this point in Botswana, at least none that I am aware of, and given its significance, I consider it prudent that the Court of Appeal must provide a determinative answer to the question whether a creditor can proceed against sureties where a company is under judicial management,” said Kebonang.
Pending the determination of the Court of Appeal, he issued the following order; the execution of writs issued in favour of FNB against Moyo and other sureties/guarantors of United Refinery are hereby stayed pending the determination of the legal question referred to the Court of Appeal.