Last month President Mokgweetsi Masisi relieved the Deputy Secretary, Justice at the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security Nchunga Nchunga of his duties with immediate effect. Having spent the whole day at work on the 11th September 2020, at night his driver dropped him a bombshell that left him shocked for life.
The former government top lawyer who served as Deputy Attorney General before joining Ministry of Defence, was only six months into his renewed 5 year contract upon his sacking. In May this year during the first lockdown, Nchunga served a four day informal suspension after he issued former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama with a special COVID- 19 movement permit for exceptional persons during lockdown to go and donate food hampers and other equipment to use during lockdown, a move that did not sit well with seniors at the ministry.
According to Nchunga, he was at the time tasked with issuing special permits for lawyers and some of the people that he helped was former President Khama’s lawyers. “They requested that the former President and three of his staff be issued with permits because they are going to donate food hampers which was in line with COVID- 19. I did not see any wrongdoing in issuing those permits, in fact it would have been disrespectful for me to refuse,” said Nchunga.
Upon reporting the matter, it appeared it rubbed some people the wrong way. His immediate supervisor summoned him and the permits were revoked immediately. Four days later Nchunga was summoned to Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) offices where he was interrogated for more than three hours.
According to Nchunga the line of questioning was divided into five categories, top of the agenda was why he issued Khama with a permit because he (Khama) is not an attorney and that as the former President he should know better that he is being assisted through the Office of the President (OP). Nchunga replied by saying it was Khama’s lawyers who asked on his behalf so he did not see any wrongdoing as he was assisting lawyers.
“They also questioned why the permit was issued at night but as far as I can recall I assisted them around six in the evening because I left office around half past six in the evening.’’ The next morning when he briefed his seniors, Nchunga was attacked for helping former President Khama and was immediately withdrawn from a team that was issuing permits. The DIS also questioned Nchunga about his relationship with former President Khama. A relationship which he denied.
Nchunga told them that the only relationship he had with Khama is that of a former head of State and nothing more than that, the same sentiments which were also shared by Khama himself. They also interrogated him on why he was suspended from issuing permits if he insists he did nothing wrong. In May this year WeekendPost ran a story on Nchunga’s suspension but at the time Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, Matshediso Bokole denied allegations of Nchunga’s suspension.
Bokole said the Deputy Secretary of Justice had been home because of an ‘extreme social distancing’ policy. “As a Ministry, we have a Duty Rotary, and we alternate duties. He (Nchunga) is yet to resume duty tomorrow, but I am expecting everyone, including him today (Thursday) because we have a meeting,” she said. According to Bokole their Ministry was responsible for issuing permits that deals with private security services and law practitioners.
The former Deputy Attorney General was controversially transferred to Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security with immediate effect last year (2019) June after he disagreed with government over the arrest of former DIS chief Col Isaac Kgosi. Pundits and social commentators also point a finger at Nchunga’s controversial 11th Studio album which was released a few weeks ago. The 14 track album is a mix of different genres with five controversial songs which sing praise to every leader in the country current and in the past.
In one of the songs Nchunga talks about Leader of the Opposition Dumelang Saleshando and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) President Biggie Butale. Taking into consideration that he works for government, his detractors say it was always a suicidal move for Nchunga to praise opposition.
In his words Nchunga submits that music is universal and has no boundaries. “I was simply celebrating other leaders across the political spectrum. Right now there are two leaders, one in government and one in opposition. Obviously I voted one, just that one is an opponent nothing qualifies us from celebrating them. There is absolutely nothing controversial,” said Nchunga.
Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).
Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model. BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.
“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.
Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.
Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board. However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.
He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.
“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).
“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.
“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.
Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.
“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.
“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.
WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs. High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.
Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.
The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.
“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.
As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.
“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.
Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.
“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.
The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.
“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.
BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.
“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.
Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.
In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.
“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.
The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.
“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”