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Saleshando warns UDC on AP, BPF

Dumelang Saleshando

Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando has warned the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) that failure to resolve existing conflicts could dissuade other opposition parties from joining forces. 

Addressing the media this week, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament said it is important for the leadership of the UDC to admit that there are problems with the coalition.

Saleshando said admitting problems, as opposed to being in denial, will lead to resolutions that will keep the coalition in good shape as it engages other opposition parties.

Brotherly relationship that existed between Saleshando and UDC President, Duma Boko as well as the rank and file members in the build-up to 2019 elections has frantically collapsed.

Disagreements on UDC governance issues and the democratisation of the UDC has drawn the two opposition leaders to parallels.

The fallout between Saleshando and Boko is so dire that the two leaders have not spoken to each other in ages. “I do not remember the last time I talked to Boko on the phone. Certainly it is not this year,” said Saleshando.

Saleshando and BCP leadership recently snubbed the UDC press conference addressed by Boko, indicating that they were not informed about issues that were to be discussed.

“There is a problem and all of us should come with extinguishers to douse the inferno, failure which would bring down the confidence of the people on UDC.”

The UDC is currently in negotiations to lure other opposition parties, Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) to the umbrella.

The talks began last year preluded by a Memorandum of Understanding on impending by-elections.

However, with the current demoralising state and shape of the UDC, Saleshando warned that: “The UDC should introspect and have a conflict resolution mechanism, we should agree as to what to do when we hold diverging views. We have not had that but the time is now to see how we solve our bickering.”

This would assist the party to transit from the muddy waters they find themselves in, according to BCP leader who is also a legislator for Maun West.

However, despite the ill-treatment that BCP has suffered recently at the hands of other coalition partners, Saleshando is adamant that his party, remains part and parcel of the umbrella project.

“We are not leaving the UDC, but the members (BCP) in my recent nationwide tours have told me that they are aware of the differences in the UDC and to my belief we as the UDC leadership should also admit that indeed the relationship has soured,” he said.

“The trust is gone. So we should address that, or else it would make us un-attractive and I will not be surprised if other opposition parties shun being part of the UDC when the talks begin.”

Currently the UDC has no code of conduct or ethics committee to deal with members irrespective of party position and this is a concern. The UDC set up is a coalition and not a political party and as such matters are left to contracting parties to instill discipline among members.

Some within the opposition have been advocating for the formation of the UDC Advisory Committee to ensure that the party adheres to all NEC portfolios.

Furthermore, another suggestion has been to engage UDC conveners to give parental guidance on critical governance matters in the party. This is meant to ensure that meetings are called frequently and resolutions taken by the NEC are implemented. These are some of the qualms other parties have in the UDC.

All the while Saleshando insists that the best conflict resolution mechanism would be for the party to come out of the closet first and discuss the problem besieging us.

“No need to engage outsiders, it is us who are aware of the problems and we should try and reach understanding of our differences then we should see if it is possible to cure it, failure in which that is when we can engage others,” Saleshando said at a media briefing hosted at Avani hotel.

The BCP leader together with his party will not be bullied into submitting to the Umbrella. He says as far as they are concerned, what they are seeing now is not what they signed for in 2017 when they joined UDC. “No party is entitled to the UDC leadership and we agreed that in after 2019 elections there will be congress and if we can do what has been agreed the party will regain its appeal. We agreed when we joined that after every three years the leadership will have to seek mandate renewal from the members and it is not happening, this is not what we signed for. But it is not a deal breaker.”

Veteran politicians have also in the past warned that the fights could collapse the UDC. “Yes to a certain extent I think these bickering and defections might affect the negotiations but it would be up to all the parties to see the bigger picture,” says Gilson Saleshando. When this ‘senseless’ bickering played out early this year, AP’s Secretary General says Dr. Phenyo Butale was not much bothered and opted to play a wait and see game. “We are not sure of the extent of how long this (bickering) will go. But we are focused, our eyes are on the ball, we want united opposition going to 2024 as you know that we have already signed memorandum of agreement with others.”

Meanwhile BCP did not honor the past UDC NEC meeting due to various reasons, but they will be part of today (Saturday) meeting in Palapye. “We have been directed by our members that going to the meeting we should not bury our heads in the sand like an ostrich but face the current problems we face because we do not trust each like we used to, so we will be party to the meeting,” Saleshando confirmed.

“For now the BCP will not leave the UDC contrary to reports. We will give our best shot. We came far and we cannot give up now,” he said.

BCP is expected to convene for their elective congress later this year to introspect and rope in new Central Committee members.

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State forged Kgosi’s arrest warrant

22nd July 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).

The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.

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UDC parties discuss by-elections

22nd July 2021
UDC

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.

Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.

The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.

This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).

The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.

The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.

In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.

Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.

Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.

“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.

Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.

“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.

The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.

UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.

Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.

Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.

Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”

Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.

FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS  

With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.

BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.

BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.

It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.

Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”

It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.

At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.

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DIS infiltrates Police fingerprint system

22nd July 2021
Makgope

Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.

Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.

BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.

The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.

By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.

In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.

“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.

“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.

The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.

All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.

“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.

Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.

Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.

COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE

As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.

“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.

The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.

“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.

The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.

“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.

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