It has been months since President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his protégé, who is also Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI), Karabo Gare, held their usual frequent casual calls and meetings following a big fallout which nearly saw the latter being ejected from cabinet last year, WeekendPost has established.
Highly placed sources told this publication that the once ‘best of buddies’ are now not seeing eye-to-eye as the relationship has reached its lowest ebb. Masisi when ascending to presidency in 2018 fought with everything he had, to ensure that the ‘little known’ Gare wins the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) primary elections in Moshupa to succeed him. Masisi later rewarded him with a junior ministerial post while still a political greenhorn.
Information before this publication however paints a picture of love on the rocks between the two, with Directorate of Intelligent Services (DIS) head Peter Magosi being the kingpin of the never anticipated fallout. It is said that Gare, in his capacity as Moshupa-Mmanyana constituency MP, met with Magosi to ask about last year’s groundbreaking ceremony for the much awaited Moshupa Primary Hospital. This was before High Court issued a judgement on who is to erect the hospital amid public pressure for the construction to commence.
It is believed that Gare engaged Magosi, not the relevant office, (then Minister of Health Dr Alfred Madigela) on the basis that the latter wrote and signed a directive blacklisting the Chinese company from doing any business with government saying they are a national security threat, sources say. The Assistant Minister’s interrogation to Magosi was motivated by the election heat he was feeling and wanted to know whether the ground breaking event will be before or after elections so that he can answer and explain to the constituents distinctly.
The meeting never bore fruit as DIS head accused Gare of conniving with China Jiangsu International, which was initially awarded the P419 million hospital project. The tender was later withdrawn from Jiangsu International and given to another Chinese company; Zhengtai Group after a court order. China Jiangsu dragged government to court over the withdrawal of the tender but lost the matter which was ultimately decided by Court of Appeal (CoA).
“Magosi, when Gare asked him about the ground breaking event, suspected that the Minister wanted to get the information and share with the Chines Company (Jiangsu). Not only that, he also accused the Minister of being sponsored by the company which the government has blacklisted from getting tenders of P3 million to push campaigns, this distressed the young Minister,” explained a source.
The informant continued: “Gare, after being accused of this wanted to tell Masisi but decided not to as it would seem he is reporting Magosi to his boss. On the other hand Magosi after the same meeting, hit below the belt by reporting Gare to Masisi who is now furious with Gare.” Owing to that encounter, the relationship between the two ‘homeboys’ turned sour, with the President furious about the fact that he even discussed this with his (Masisi) family.
“I don’t want to engage with him, he is dealing with corrupt individuals,” Masisi reportedly responded when one family member (sister), proposed a ceasefire meeting between the two. Masisi, a source says finally met with Gare at State House some time last year, with the Minister seeking to present his case but in vain. “I’m not interested to hear anything from you and you might as well close the door as you go,” a seemingly furious Masisi said before his sister intervened once again.
The intervention by the family member also hit a brick wall. “I made you and now you want to put me in the pockets of corrupt Chinese,” those were the last words from President Masisi to Gare in that meeting, reveals an impeccable source. Since that time, which was early September, the two have never contacted each other again and Masisi has vowed not to put his faith in him again, disclosed an informant.
It is said that the matter is so serious that Gare was as good as dead, as he was not part of Masisi’s cabinet plans. Reports say, the Minister was rescued because of a lack of wealthy pool of BDP legislators and was roped in to continue as the Assistant Minister. Gare told this publication that: “I have not asked anyone anywhere about the hospital. It is all lies. As to my relationship with the President, there is nothing I can share with you because it would be disrespectful to share that with the media,” a livid Assistant Minister responded to WeekendPost enquiries.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.