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The Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction should form a new party

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

In this article I argue that if the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is to stand any chance of winning the 2019 general elections the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD)’s faction led by Honourable Ndaba Gaolatlhe should split and form a new party as early as now.

Before presenting my arguments it is apposite that I give a brief back ground of the BMD saga.    Sometime in April this year violence broke during a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting which had been convened to discuss the postponement of the Youth League congress.

Following that, despite the NEC’s decision to postpone the Youth League congress, it was held, allegedly at the instance of the faction led by party President, Honourable Ndaba Gaolatlhe, and his deputy, Honourable Wynter Mmolotsi. This resulted in suspensions and disciplinary proceedings being waged against those who attended the Congress being Honourable Gaolathe, Honourable Mmolotsi, former Youth League president, Phenyo Segokgo, former National Organizing Secretary, Kabelo Mahupe, Pako Keokilwe, former Women’s League president, Joyce Mothudi, and Harriet Rampa.

It is common knowledge that these did not attend the disciplinary hearings as a result of which all of them except Kabelo Mahupe were expelled from the party. It is also worth mentioning that none of them appealed the NEC’s decision within the stipulated fourteen (14) days in terms of clause 37.25 of the BMD constitution. It is also common knowledge that when the Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction tried to attend the party Congress in Bobonong, violence ensued, resulting in the faction retreating to hold their Congress elsewhere while the Modubule/Mangole faction remained at the designated venue.

The two factions elected their leadership, a situation which has resulted in the BMD having two NECs, one led by Honourable Gaolathe while the other is led by Advocate Sidney Pilane. Reportedly, both NECs have since written to the UDC seeking recognition. I now present the case for the need for the Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction to split from the BMD and form a new party. Firstly, I address the question as to why it is the Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction that has to split and form a new party.

In my view, though the Modubule/Mangole faction is not blemishless, the Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction is tainted with illegality in many respects. Firstly, the NEC’s decision to expel its leaders is likely to be upheld by the courts. As members of the BMD, who are subject to the BMD constitution, the suspended leaders had an obligation to attend the disciplinary hearings held by the Disciplinary Committee (DC) regardless of the objections they may have had. If they had objections, e.g. about the charges or the composition of the DC they had several lawful avenues to pursue. They could have made written representations of such to the DC before the hearing in which case the DC would have had a legal duty to consider the submissions before making any determination.

In this instance, if the DC could have decided to proceed with the disciplinary hearing without due regard to the submissions and/or objections the suspended leaders had the option of making a court application, even on urgent basis, to interdict the disciplinary hearing and get directions from the court. Alternatively, they could have attended the disciplinary hearing and, at a preliminary stage, made such submissions and/or objections to the DC. If the DC had disregarded such submissions and/or objections, they still had the option of interdicting the disciplinary hearing.

Also, if the DC continued with the disciplinary hearing in wanton disregard of the submissions and/or objections they had the option to make a court application to have the findings of the disciplinary hearing set aside in which case the disciplinary hearing could later be held according to the terms set by the court. Not only that. Even after the DC made its findings, which were upheld by the NEC, the suspended leaders still had several lawful options. They had the option of, within fourteen (14) days, appealing the decision to expel them in terms of clause 37.25 of the BMD constitution.

They also had the option of making a court application, even on urgent basis, to set aside the DC’s as well as the NEC’s decision. Their failure to prosecute their defence and to appeal the NEC’s decision is, in law, an acquiescence of their guilt and it is likely to be upheld by the courts. Secondly, the Modubule/Mangole NEC is likely to be upheld by the courts. Inarguably, the NEC had the constitutional right to call the Congress. If the Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction had issue with that they could have made a court application to interdict the Congress.

In the same application they could have prayed to the court to give directions on how the Congress should be held. Such directions could have included such issues as delegates’ validation, the chairing of the Congress and the conduct of the elections for the NEC. The mere fact that they first attempted to attend the Congress on the date and at the venue set by the NEC the Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction effectively accepted that that was the lawful Congress. The Congress which they later held fails to satisfy the requirements of legality in many respects.

Firstly, it had not been called, through a competent statutory notice, by the NEC in terms of clause 13.4 of the BMD constitution. Consequently, it cannot be said that there were delegates who attended the Congress since competent delegation to a Congress can only flow from a competent statutory notice. Secondly, because, in law, it cannot be said that there were delegates to the Congress, no decision, including the decision to hold the Congress and to conduct the elections, can stand the test of legality. Thirdly, the purported NEC members who presided over the Congress were illegitimate.

This is because they were not members of the BMD owing to the decision to expel them which decision had neither been set aside by the National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal (NDCA) nor the courts. In my view, the Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction’s reported plans to approach the court on urgency to set aside the Modubule/Mangole NEC are likely to be in vain. Firstly, the courts are unlikely to agree to hear the case on urgency since no urgency in fact exists.

The Congress was held more than two (2) weeks ago. The question is: why did they wait this long to approach the courts? They probably waited this long because their legal advisors have advised them that they have no prospects of success. But even if the Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction may be heared on urgency or in the normal course it is unlikely to succeed on the merits. In my view, they relied too much on the majority they thought they had and hoped they will be reinstated and win the elections.

As a result, they sat on their rights and it may be too late to enforce such rights. To put is simply, the Modubule/Mangole faction outmaneuvered them both tactically and legally. While some remain hopeful that the two factions may reconcile I am of the view that there is no viable path to true and lasting reconciliation. True and lasting reconciliation would require at least two paths. One is setting aside the decision to expel the Gaolathe/Mmolotsi leaders.

This would mean Honourable Gaolathe remains as President with Honourable Mmolotsi as his deputy. But, can Advocate Pilane agree to give up his hard won presidency, especially in view of the 2019 general elections where there is hope that the UDC may win? I believe he cannot. Neither can his deputy, Dr. Tlamelo Mmatli, Chairman, Nehemiah Modubule, and Secretary General, Honourable Gilbert Mangole. They have fought so hard that they have nothing more to lose.

It should be remembered that it is the Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction which was behind the effort to bar Advocate Pilane from rejoining the BMD. How can Advocate Pilane trust that they will not use the Congress to terminate his membership if they are returned to power? Also, the level of mistrust between the factions is so high that they cannot reasonably be able to work together. How do you work with someone you have accused of being a spy for the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS)?

The other path is the nullification of both Congresses and the calling of another Congress during which fresh NEC elections are held. If the Congresses are nullified who becomes president, deputy president, chairman and secretary general in the interim? Which faction can agree that the other presides over the Congress? Who can risk losing elections during the newly convened Congress?

Can either Honourable Gaolathe or Advocate Pilane accept any reconciliation deal in terms of which he will not be president? Can people who have failed to reconcile their differences since the 2015 elective Congress reconcile now after such a bruising fight?
Though reconciliation is a noble thing to do the relationship between the two factions has broken down so irretrievably that the only viable thing to do is for the BMD to split and for a new party to be formed. For the reasons advanced above it is the Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction which should leave and form a new party.

After all the Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction is said to have the support of most of the branches. If this is true, a split will leave the Modubule/Mangole faction as an empty shell which will collapse or dwindle into insignificance. Of course, it is Modubule/Mangole which will retain the constitution, the name, the logo, the slogan, the party colors and the bank accounts, but what good are these without the members? In time, they will dissipate into insignificance.

The Gaolathe/Mmolotsi faction should not worry about whether or not they will be admitted into the UDC after forming the new party. Their numbers and party organization will compel the UDC to admit them. If this happens the new party may, in the remaining two years, regroup and give the UDC a realistic chance to wrestle state power from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in 2019.

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Parricide at Herod’s Court

25th January 2021
SAILI

A wife, uncle, and two in-laws fall at the hands of Judah’s despot

The pre-eminent Jewish chronicler, Flavius Josephus, said of Herod the Great that he was “blessed with every gift of looks, body, and mind” but he was a “slave to his passions”. This was in the context of a gloating bloodlust.

His sword knew no sacred cows: neither his own kids, wives, in-laws, next of kin, nor bosom friends were immune from it. He is on record as pestering Caesar Augustus with a barrage of letters seeking permission to execute his own flesh and blood, prompting the Roman emperor to at one time quip that, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son”, which was apt: as a “Jew”, Herod did not eat pork and therefore in the event that he kept any pigs, they would never have to be killed.

You are by now well-apprised of the death of Hyrcanus II by the same Herod, General Atiku, in 30 BC. Hyrcanus, a Hasmonean ruler of Judah twice over, was actually the grandfather of Mariamne I, Herod’s most beloved wife and his second of up to 10 wives. It was Mariamne’s own mother Salome, who dreading Herod’s pathological savagery, pitched Mariamne to Herod in the hope that that would insure her family from Herod’s murderous caprices.

Now, Mariamne, General, was as much a stunning beauty as her younger brother Aristobulus III was breathtakingly good-looking. Having tied the knot with Herod in 37 BC, Mariamne had prevailed over her husband to install Aristobulus as High Priest. The post had fallen vacant on the death of Antigonus in 37 BC and Herod had appointed one Ananel, who had no ties whatsoever to the Hasmoneans, the first such in more than a century, in his place. Unable to resist the spirited entreaties of his beloved wife, who had also lobbied Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and her beau Mark Anthony, Herod gave in and replaced Ananel with Aristobulus, who was only 16 years old, in 36 BC.

Because of his enormous charisma and overall affability, Aristobulus was a hit with the masses despite his tender age and Herod was envious of the young man’s rock star-like popularity. To make doubly sure the young man did not harbour a seditious ace up his sleeve, the morbidly paranoid Herod had his spooks watch on both Aristobulus and his mother round the clock. Sensing imminent danger, Aristobulus contacted Cleopatra, asking for a pre-emptive safe passage to Egypt and there enjoy absolute freedom. When Herod got wind of this, he decided to get rid of Aristobulus as he did not wish him to be a perennial thorn in his flesh from the utter safety of self-imposed exile.

The opportunity came at a banquet in Jericho which was organised by Aristobulus’ mother. There, Herod had one of his henchmen cause Aristobulus to drown during a dusk time horseplay in a swimming pool. Of course Herod would forever maintain the drowning was accidental when everybody knew it was in truth a tactical elimination. Poor Aristobulus was only 17 years old having been born in 56 BC. He was the last Hasmonean High Priest and was replaced by the previously deposed Ananel, who was to remain in that position till 29 BC.

HEROD ACQUITTED OVER THE ARISTOBULUS DEATH

It need not be over-emphasised, General, that Mariamne and her mother Alexandra did not take Herod’s line over the all too untimely demise of Aristobulus lying down. If he had reckoned that with the death of Aristobulus he had gotten rid of potentially the most potent threat to his omnipotence, he was totally mistaken. Herod had actually simply fanned the flames of intrigue against him, for mother and daughter confronted him and accused him of murdering their boy in cold blood.

Nor did the two Iron Ladies end matters there: Alexandra wrote a lachrymal letter to Cleopatra to get her to bring her influence to bear on Mark Anthony so that Herod paid dearly and likewise for his nefarious act. Anthony, who at the time was the Roman colossus in charge of the whole of the Middle East, was persuaded and during a visit to Laodicea (in modern-day Turkey, though some accounts say it was Rhodes in Cyprus), he commanded Herod to report to him forthwith and exculpate himself over the affair.

Although Herod put a brave face on the matter, General, he was rather unsure of his eventual fate after the trial. He also suspected rightly or wrongly that Anthony had a thing for the voluptuously beautiful Mariamne and the last thing Herod wanted was for any other man to bed his beloved Mariamne even in death. So before he set off for Laodicea, Herod instructed his uncle Joseph, who was married to his sister Salome, to make sure that in the event that Anthony sentenced him to death, he should immediately put her to the sword. He also detailed a certain Sohemus, a most trusted aide, to stand sentry over the entire womenfolk at the palace.

Herod, however, had the nine lives of a cat, General. Using his immense rhetorical skills and the time-honoured palm greasing, he won himself an acquittal. Meanwhile, the Judean rumourville was abuzz with chatter that Herod had been summarily executed by Anthony, as a result of which people became spendthrifts of their tongues.

Both Joseph and Sohemus disclosed to Mariamne the instructions Herod had left them with in relation to her fate once he was no more. Mariamne was both livid and distraught that her husband regarded her as so easily expendable when outwardly he cherished her beyond words. To her mind, his arrangements with Joseph had nothing to do with love but sprang from sheer monstrosity. She probably thanked God that he was dead, but the fact of the matter was that he was not and when he at long last turned up, she did not want to have anything to do with him, including the conjugation which he so eagerly pined for after such an extended absence.

HEROD KILLS HIS WIFE AND HIS UNCLE

Now, if Herod had a kind of Svengali, General, it was his youngest sister Salome. Salome (65 BC-10 AD) was the most powerful woman at Herod’s court. A sly, scheming, and manipulating vixen, she arguably more than any other living being had the most sway in a negative sense on her brother, who took practically whatever she said as gospel truth.

Let us nevertheless, General, take stock of the fact that the bulk of what we learn about Salome comes from Flavius Josephus, who himself relied on the writings of Herod’s court historian Nicolaus of Damascus. For one reason or the other, Nicolaus did not see eye to eye with Salome and it is therefore possible that much of what Nicolaus relates of her is embellished to smear her before the court of history.
Upon his return, Herod was told of the rumours of his death and so was surprised to find Mariamne alive when Joseph and Sohemus should in the circumstances have had her killed if indeed they were loyal to him. In fact, Joseph had even put Mariamne and Alexandra into the safe custody of Roman legions stationed in Judea just in case Jewish malcontents who abhorred Herod turned their wrath on them.

But there was more. Salome reported to Herod that Mariamne, who she hated like the plague, had had sexual relations with both Joseph and Sohemus, this being Mariamne’s reward to them for dishing out to her the dirt on Herod, and that she had on several occasions before attempted to poison him. Now, no one would hump Herod’s most beloved wife and get away scotfree. It is therefore small wonder that Herod straightaway ordered the execution of Joseph and Sohemus. Joseph was 61 years old at the time of his death in 34 BC, having been born in 95 BC. In the case of Mariamne herself though, he had her subjected to a formal court trial not on charges of adultery but of attempted regicide.

Herod had hoped that the court would acquit her, whereupon he would make bygones be bygones so great was his love for the woman, but sadly for him, General, she was found guilty and sentenced to death. Even then, Herod tactfully dilly-dallied on signing the writ of execution and simply had his wife detained at a fortress for some time until Salome prevailed over him to execute her at long last. Writes Josephus: “Thus, with the death of the noble and lovely Mariamne ended the glorious history of the Hasmonean High Priest Mattathias and his descendants.”

For a long time to come though, General, Herod was haunted by the death of his wife to the point of even sometimes coming across as if he had lost his mind. “When Herod realised what this meant (the death sentence passed on Mariamne), he tried in vain to have the verdict changed, but Salome did not rest until the death penalty was carried out,” Josephus informs us. “Herod was heartbroken; nothing could comfort him for the loss of his lovely wife.

For seven years he refused to have her body buried, and held it, embalmed, in his palace. Afterwards, he became so melancholy and despondent, nothing interested him or could arouse any enthusiasm in him for living … He was so far conquered by his passion, that he would order his servants to call for Mariamne, as if she were still alive, and could still hear them … He tried hard to forget his trouble by going hunting and banqueting, but nothing helped. Herod built new cities and erected temples and palaces. He also named a tower in honour of Mariamne.”

HEROD SLAYS SISTER’S EX-HUBBY

Mariamne’s death was not the only one which Herod perpetrated through the instrumentality of Salome. There were actually several and included those of her own husband Costobarus. Salome was married four times, to her uncle Joseph (45 BC); Costobarus (34 BC); Sylleus (circa 27 BC); and Alexas (20 BC).

Like the Herod clan, Costobarus was of Idumean stock. It was Costobarus Herod had made governor of Idumea and Gaza and upon Joseph’s death had him tie the knot with Salome, with the couple eventually siring two children, Berenice and Antipater III. Costobarus, though, soon began to harbour monarchical ambitions of his own and wrote to Cleopatra beseeching her to persuade Mark Anthony to make Idumea independent of Herod and install him (Costobarus) as Rome’s client King of the territory.

Of course upon learning of this, Herod was not amused. It was Salome who pleaded with him not to put her husband to the sword. Next time, however, a dumped Costobarus was not so lucky. Seven years after their marriage, Salome and Costobarus parted ways and a possibly hurt Salome decided to exact vengeance. She informed her brother that he had been harbouring two fugitives from Herodian justice for a full 12 years at his own farm.

The two were simply known as the Sons of Baba. Baba ben Babuta, their father and clan patriarch, was related to the Hasmonean ruler Antigonus, who Herod had replaced and killed in 37 BC with the help of Roman legions. Baba and his sons had resisted Herod at the time, with his sons henceforth persisted in insurrectionist activity against Herod. Baba himself had been captured and blinded by Herod but spared anyway as he no longer posed any threat. Writes Josephus: “Now the Sons of Babas were of great dignity, and had power among the multitude, and were faithful to Antigonus, and were always raising calumnies against Herod, and encouraged the people to preserve the government to that royal family (the Hasmoneans) which held it by inheritance.”

Costobarus had provided the Sons of Baba an indefinite lair “supposing that their preservation might be of great advantage to him in the changes of government afterward”. Following the Salome tip, Herod had Costobarus and the Sons of Baba summarily executed “so that none was left alive of the family of Hyrcanus (the Hasmonean), and the kingdom was wholly in Herod’s power, there being no one of high rank to stand in the way of his unlawful acts” per Josephus.

NEXT WEEK: HEROD’S WRATH ON HIS OWN SONS

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WHAT’S UP WITH WHATSAPP?

25th January 2021

In early January, WhatsApp, part of Facebook Inc., began alerting its 2 billion users to an update of its privacy policy which, should they want to keep using the popular messaging app, they have to accept. Much of the policy, which is about commercialising WhatsApp, states ‘WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, the other Facebook Companies.

We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate and market services’. WhatsApp is now reserving the right to share data it collects about you with the broader Facebook network, which includes Instagram, regardless of whether you have accounts or profiles there, claiming it needs it to help operate and improve its offerings. More broadly, almost all of the $21.5 billion in revenues which Facebook generated in the third quarter of 2020 came from advertising and there is currently none in WhatsApp.

The company now wants to be able to serve more targeted ads to people on Facebook and Instagram by also garnering their usage habits on WhatsApp and enabling businesses take payments via WhatsApp for items that were selected on other Facebook sites. For long-time users, the option to share data with Facebook was made available in 2016, but it was just that: optional and temporary. It was now to become mandatory for everybody from Feb. 8 but owing to a massive backlash, the company has delayed that to May 15 to try and persuade users to sign up to the new Ts and Cs.

WhatsApp on Monday attempted to address the uproar over privacy concerns with a post on its website, explaining that the update was designed to aid businesses on its platform, as it reiterated in Friday’s post.

“We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.”

These new terms have caused an outcry among technology experts, privacy advocates, billionaire entrepreneurs and government organisations and triggered a wave of defections to rival services. Elon Musk has urged his followers to switch to Signal and the governments of Turkey and India have threatened to block the app if it insists on proceeding.

‘WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy verges on user surveillance and threatens India’s security’, a petition filed in an Indian court said on Thursday, presenting another legal challenge for the Facebook Inc. -owned messenger. “It virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity,” lawyer Chaitanya Rohilla told the Delhi High Court. Many Indian users have began installing rival apps like Signal and Telegram, pushing WhatsApp to begin a costly advertising campaign to calm its 400 million customer-base, the largest of any country. The change has also met with a challenge in Turkey with the country’s Competition Board this week launching an investigation into the messaging service and its parent company.

Elsewhere too, in spite of Whatsapp protestations, millions of its users are already migrating to alternative platforms. Signal saw 7.5 million downloads last week,  a 4,200% spike since the previous week and large swaths of users also jumped to Telegram, as the platform gained 9 million new users last week, up 91% from the previous week. Both apps are now topping Google and Apple’s app stores,

Facebook could possibly learn a lesson from history here. Every past empire – Aztec, Mayan, Greco-Roman, Sumerian, Mongol, Chinese, Ottoman and more recently British, all saw their star rise, their glory swell, their boundaries grow and yet each eventually fell, often the instigators of their own downfall.

They expanded too far too fast and could not control what they had initially conquered. And now it looks like the same fate might await this large tech giant. Parent company Facebook has also come under fire recently for overt and covert censorship policies with questions raised as to partisanship and curtailment of freedom of speech. Thus one would have to question the wisdom of the timing of this new Whatsapp privacy policy, if nothing else.

To understand its influence and control one only has to check out the un-smart sector of the mobile phone industry which for some time has offered handsets a small step up from the basic starter sets with Facebook and Whatsapp as default screen app settings. These limited internet access options have allowed millions of users to connect with affordable data bundle packages.

And for Google smartphone subscribers, the search engine automatically connects its base to Whatsapp and Facebook – one big, happy family. Facebook is also seamlessly linked to Paypal offering contact-less charges for its boosted post advertising, a somewhat sinister partnership which accesses their Paypal log-in and authorisation details without the need to inform the payee – the transaction is simply deducted automatically from the registered credit card. This is Big Brother with a blue logo.

The bottom line here is that if you have any privacy issues at all – and you probably should – you might as well make the switch now before you are forced to sign away your rights in May. And the plus part is that both Signal and Telegram have the technological edge over Whatsapp anyway, the latter even being accessible on multiple platforms simultaneously, not just on your phone.
Empires take time to crumble and Facebook is not in imminent danger but information is a weapon that can be used in any war, even a virtual conflict, so don’t give this giant any more ammunition than it already has.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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