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Go for a congress – Maundeni tells UDC

Duma Boko

The University of Botswana political scientist, Professor, Zibani Maundeni has called on the main opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leadership to admit that the time for a congress has come and they must do the honourable thing by preparing for it as soon as possible.

In an interview with this publication, Maundeni revealed that things are currently not looking good in the main opposition blaming most if not all on the controversy around going for a congress,

“Calls for a congress won’t die anytime soon and I agree with those who are saying the parties should go for a congress as agreed to resolve their issues,” he said.

According to him, those who are opposing the congress cannot sustain their position, “party problems are resolved through congresses, and that’s where major decisions are taken.” Saleshando posits that a resolutions was taken in 2019 that the UDC will go to a congress after the 2019 elections and states that the movement should do or work towards doing so as agreed. Yet Boko says it is still soon to hold a congress.

Speaking on the ongoing separate public engagement activities by the two leaders, Dumelang Saleshando and Duma Boko, Maundeni said: “It is a glaring sign of collapse of internal mechanism. I know some deny it but that’s actually what it is. It’s is showing that even communication has collapsed as reported by one of the leaders”.

Maundeni cringed at the news of lack of communication between Boko and Saleshando. Saleshando said the last time he spoke to Boko was last year, while Boko says there is no need to call each other as there are existing structures of party communication or engagement.

On this aspect, Maundeni says Boko is very wrong, “come on, what type of an organization leadership goes for such a long time without talking. No serious-minded person will believe that. In fact leadership of such an organisation in my view should call each other every week and or day to discuss arising matters, to plan and resolve issues,” he advised.

The two leaders have not really been having cordial relations due to their fundamental differences on approaches to politics and governance and the contest is worsened by public comparisons over who is better than the other. These comparisons have endured the test of time and don’t seem to go away any time soon.

Yet political observers argue that such is the nature of coalitions, adding that competition and stark difference of viewpoints including protection of individual territories are common features under such arrangements.

It is not unclear what the aftermaths of the congress might mean to the major contracting parties, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana National Front (BNF), and their respective leaders and views vary with some saying the UDC will emerge stronger while some hold a contrary view.

On whether the UDC will challenge the BDP as a united front with all other opposition members remains anybody’s guess. Currently the movement houses only three parties being the BCP, BNF and Botswana People’s party. Outside are the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). It is not known whether their leaders will also want to challenge for the presidency once they are inside the coalition which is operating on the basis that all partners are equal.

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Boko’s rivals plan new party

15th August 2022

Following their loss to the Duma Boko-led lobby in the Botswana National Front (BNF)’s national congress last month, some members of the party are reportedly considering forming a new political party.

According to members, the new party will be formed after they receive a tip-off that the BNF will do all it can to ensure that the aggrieved members do not participate in the 2024 national elections. This will reportedly done through a carefully orchestrated primary elections elimination campaign. 

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

12th August 2022

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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