Masisi may recall Dow
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi may, in the November sitting of Parliament, recall Specially Elected Member of Parliament (SEMP), Dr Unity Dow from the house and give her a new role. Dow is likely to Chair the Constitutional Review Commission, WeekendPost has been told.
The decision, according to informants, was taken this week at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) emergency meeting. This was the second meeting in weeks; the previous meeting concluded with the party President, Dr Masisi suspending some indisciplined members. However, from the Wednesday meeting, the party wants to put foot on the pedal and accelerate some of the 2019 election promises.
“Since independence, the constitution of Botswana has undergone minimal and piecemeal reviews. The BDP, therefore, commits to a comprehensive review of the Botswana constitution to align it to international standards. As a republic, we need a constitution that guarantees all citizens equality before the law. All discriminatory provisions will be removed in favour of more inclusive provisions. The BDP will consult widely and open debates on the shape and form of the Botswana constitution,” the party pledged ahead of the last elections.
It has been two years since the promise, and nothing has moved. Various quarters have mounted severe pressure for the process to take off. With that, the party has decided to initiate an exercise that would go down as one of Masisi’s legacy. The BDP decision comes as a response to a letter dated 29th September 2021. Leader of Opposition Dumelang Saleshando queried that it has been two years since Masisi announced the imminent start of the constitutional review process, but nothing has taken off to date. The BCP President in the letter says as opposition; they are major stakeholders as they have 48 per cent of the polling voters in the 2019 elections.
“It is critical to emphasize the point that both the BDP and the UDC have in their 2019 manifestos promised the people a comprehensive constitutional review process. The UDC is committed to delivering on this promise and, in particular, to deliver a constitution that every Motswana feels they own and identify with. We want a legitimate constitution that we will have the broad endorsement of the populace,” reads the letter.
Masisi and his party have now decided to take a human rights activist and lawyer by training Dow to lead the project. Sources told this publication that for her to deliver meritoriously, she would have to be outside the lawmaking house hence the thinking of recalling her from Parliament. Dow became the first woman to be appointed as a judge to the country’s High Court in 1997, and this has earned her the marks to lead the commission as it needs someone with a law background, those in the know says.
It is not cast in stone that she will take the offer, but the BDP is confident that it is irresistible. Last year, Dow resigned from cabinet as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations amid reports of diplomatic tensions between Botswana and South Africa. She dismissed those rumours saying it was a personal decision.
With Dow now highly likely to leave Parliament, who is going to replace her? It is a tricky question that the only President can answer. However, Former Health and Wellness Minister Dr Alfred Madigele has been hinted at on numerous occasions as a possible SEMP. It is said his return will see him going back to the cabinet at the same ministry. No explanation is advanced to that effect, but one thing is sure, there will be a cabinet reshuffle at one point.
“It is difficult to say why he will go back to cabinet, but we are aware that he is contemplating to challenge Dr Edwin Dikoloti at the constituency, and the leadership has pleaded with him not to. Maybe it is why he will be coming to the executive as a deal for him not to challenge the incumbent. Again, he (Madigele) wants to contest for the party SG position, and the leaders are against that; hence this carrot is dangled before him,” a source tried to explain this week.
According to President Masisi, the meeting also addressed the issues of indiscipline in the party and called on some members who may be causing confusion and instability within the party. “The meeting went well, with members pledging their unwavering loyalty and support not only to me but to this great party that we lead. I am deeply grateful,” Masisi wrote on his Facebook page.
Of late, there has been tension between Masisi and party SG Mpho Balopi and from the Wednesday meeting, it is explained that the two have smoked peace pipe. However, it remains uncertain whether Masisi will back his secretarial general candidature next year when the party goes for its elective national congress. When asked about these developments, Party’s Communication and International Relations Chairman Banks Kentse said, “Wednesday meeting was a special Central Committee which details are very confidential.”
DPP drops Kably threat to kill case
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Letlhakeng/Lephephe Liakat Kably has welcomed the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP)â€™s decision not to prosecute BDP councillor, Meshack Tshenyego who allegedly threatened to kill him. However, the legislator has warned that should anything happen to his life, the state and the courts will have to account.
In an interview with this publication, Kablay said he has heard that the DPP has declined to prosecute Tshenyego in a case in which he threatened to kill him adding that the reasons he received are that there was not enough evidence to prosecute. â€śI am fine and at peace with the decision not to prosecute over evidential deficits but I must warn that should anything happen to my life both the DPP and the Magistrate will have to account,â€ť Kablay said.
Connectedly, Kably said he has made peace with Tshenyego, â€śwe have made peace and he even called me where upon we agreed to work for the party and bury the hatchetâ€ť.
The DPP reportedly entered into a Nolle Prosequi in the matter, meaning that no action would be taken against the former Letlhakeng Sub-district council chairperson and currently councillor for Matshwabisi.
According to the charge sheet before the Court, councilor Tshenyego on July 8th, 2022 allegedly threatened MP Kably by indirectly uttering the following words to nominatedcouncilor Anderson Molebogi Mathibe, â€śMosadi wa ga Liakat le ban aba gagwe ba tsile go lela, Mosadi wame le banake le bone ba tsile go lela. E tla re re mo meeting, ka re tsena meeting mmogo, ke tla mo tlolela a bo ke mmolaya.â€ť
Loosely translated this means, Liakatâ€™s wife and children are going to shed tears and my wife and kids will shed tears too. I will jump on him and kill him during a meeting.
Mathibe is said to have recorded the meeting and forwarded it to Kably who reported the matter to the police.
In a notice to the Magistrate Court to have the case against Tshenyego, acting director of Public Prosecutions, Wesson ManchweÂ cited the nolle prosequi by the director of public prosecution in terms of section 51 A (30) of the Constitution and section 10 of the criminal procedure and evidence act (CAP 08:02) laws of Botswana as reasons for dropping the charges.
A nolle prosequi is a formal notice of abandonment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit or action.
â€śIn pursuance of my powers under section 51 A (300 of the Constitution and section 10 of the criminal procedure and evidence act (CAP 08:02) laws of Botswana, I do hereby stop and discontinue criminal proceedings against the accused Meshack Tshenyego in the Kweneng Administrative District, CR.No.1077/07/2022 being the case of the State vs Tshenyego,â€ť said Manchwe. The acting director had drafted the notice dropping the charges on 13th day of March 2023.
The case then resumed before the Molepolole Magistrate Solomon Setshedi on the 14th of March 2023. The Magistrate issued an order directing â€śthat matters be withdrawn with prejudice to the State, accused is acquitted and discharged.â€ť
DPP seizes prosecution duties from Police
Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) has finally taken over prosecution from the Botswana Police Service (BPS). The police have been prosecuting for years, but the takeover means that they will now only focus on investigations and then hand over to the DPP for prosecution.
Talks of complete takeover began as far back as 2008, but for years it seemed implementation was sluggish. However, the Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni, revealed that the complete takeover is expected to be completed soon.
During a presentation to the Committee of Supply by Shamukuni this week, it was revealed that the project has been implemented in 22 police stations nationwide, including Maun, Selebi-Phikwe, Palapye, Francistown, and Kasane. He further stated that the project has been allocated P3,000,000 for the 2023/2024 financial year to facilitate the opening of more satellite offices for the DPP.
Shamukuni said the Lobatse station is scheduled for a complete takeover by the end of May 2023, while the Kasane DPP satellite office has been established and became operational as of February 1, 2023.
“As reported previously, preparations are at an advanced stage to open a satellite office in Tsabong to curtail expenses, as well as frequent long-distance trips to these areas, as it is currently serviced by the Lobatse DPP office,” Shamukuni said.
Shamukuni said that the takeover strategy is to enable a seamless and gradual takeover of prosecution from the BPS without overwhelming and overstretching the thin resources at its disposal.
According to Shamukuni, the implementation of the prosecution takeover project has increased the workload of the 211 prosecutors in the DPP establishment.
Furthermore, the Justice Minister said DPP statistics show that the DPP has a total of 11,903 cases and dockets as of January 2023. He indicated that this is a significant increase in the number of cases being handled by the DPP, considering that in November 2021, the DPP had just over 8,471 files.
â€śOut of the total case load, 8 382 are cases pending before various courts while 3521 are dockets received from law enforcement agencies of which 1 325 are awaiting service of summons while the rest are being assessed for suitability of prosecution or otherwiseâ€ť said Shamukuni.
He further stated that The DPP has consistently maintained an 80% success rate in matters completed at court.
â€śAs at the end of January 2023, the success rate stood at 82.3% against a target of 90% whilst the average performance in respect of turnaround time for conclusion of cases at court stood at 17.5 months against a target of 18 months,â€ť he said.
BACKLOG OF CASES â€“ LAND TRIBUNAL
Meanwhile, Minister Shamukuni has revealed that Gaborone land Tribunal is experiencing a backlog of cases. Before parliament this week, Shamukuni revealed that a total 230 appeals were completed for the period of April 2022- December 2022 and only 76.5% of them were completed within set time frame.
The minister said that the Gaborone division has experiencing a backlog of cases due to manpower constraints and he further indicated that presiding officers from other divisions have been brought in to expedite case disposal.
He further indicated that the land tribunal is a specialized court that has been empowered to resolve appeals arising from land boards. â€śIt has been mandated to determine appeals from the decisions of Physical planning committees of Districts Councilsâ€ť said Shamukuni.
Land Tribunal relocated to the Ministry of Justice from Ministry of Land and Water Affairs in November 2022.
â€śAn amount of P37, 842,670 is requested to cover salaries, allowance and other operational expenses for the Department of the land Tribunal,â€ť alluded Shamukuni
BCP, AP stalemate in 7 constituencies
When the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Alliance for Progressives, Botswana Labour Party (BLP), and conveners reconvene next week, the controversial issue of allocation of the seven constituencies will be the main topic of discussion, WeekendPost can reveal.
Not only that, but the additional four constituencies will also dominate the talks. The idea is to finally close the “constituency allocation phase,” which has proven to be the most difficult part of the ongoing negotiations.
Earlier this year, the two parties announced that the marathon talks would be concluded by February. Even at a media briefing last month, BCP Secretary General Goretetse Kekgonegile and Publicity Secretary Dr. Mpho Pheko were optimistic that the negotiations would be concluded before the end of February.
However, it is now mid-March and the talks have yet to be concluded. What could be the reasons for the delay? This is a question that both Kekgonegile and Pheko have not responded to, as they have ignored the reporters’ inquiries. However, a senior figure within the party has confided to this publication as to what is delaying the highly anticipated negotiations.
“We are reconvening next week to finalize constituency allocations, taking into account the additional four new ones plus the outstanding seven,” he explained. It later surfaced that Gaborone Central, Gaborone North, Mogoditshane, Tswapong North, Francistown West, Tati West, and Nata Gweta are all contested by both BCP and AP. This is because the other 50 constituencies were allocated by December of last year.
The three parties have failed to find common ground for the Bosele Ward by-elections. Are these constituencies not a deal breaker for the talks? “None of the constituencies is a deal breaker,” responded a very calm BCP official.
In Bosele Ward, AP has yielded to BCP, despite most of its members disapproving the decision. On the other hand, BLP has refused, and it will face off with BCP together with Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
The decision by BLP to face off with BCP has been labelled as a false start for the talks by political observers.