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BCP MPs defy Saleshando

At least eight Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Members of Parliament (MPs) have broken ranks with their leader Dumelang Saleshando on whether to stay or leave the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), WeekendPost has learnt.

On Monday, following a heated press conference addressed by the party Secretary General, Goretetse Kekgonegile, where the BCP made it clear that they will face-off with UDC candidate at Bophirima Ward by-elections, the party held parliamentary caucus to discuss its fate in the UDC. In that meeting, the MPs made their opinion to the party leadership that they still want to remain in the UDC. Currently, the BCP has 11 MPs in the parliament from the 2019 elections. At a Monday meeting, this publication has established that the trio of Taolo Lucas (Bobonong MP), Kgoberego Nkawana (Selibe Phikwe East) and Goretetse Kekgonegile (Maun East) told the meeting chairman Dumelang Saleshando that they are ready for a life outside the UDC.

On the other hand, Dithapelo Keorapetse, Onneetse Ramogapi, Dr. Never Tshabang, Carter Hikuama, David Tshere and Kenny Kapinga believe they should remain in the umbrella. The stand that is not known is that of Sefhare-Ramokgonami MP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is reported not to have attended the meeting. Party President Saleshando has in the past made it clear that the current UDC model should be replaced by a total merger, a suggestion which has been rejected by the Botswana National Front (BNF).

The meeting, apart from the UDC decision, also had to look at the party stance regarding the Bophirima Ward fiasco. The BCP, according to insiders, was also left deeply divided as some maintain that the leaders could have addressed the matter in a more sober approach to avoid the UDC fighting against the UDC.

We cannot de-campaign the same party that we were canvassing votes for in the past elections. So for now, we believe there could have been a conversation to deal with the issue. If we do like what is happening where we face off with the UDC, what are we saying to the voters? Besides, if we have any intention it is not the entire responsibility of the Central Committee but rather that decision can be taken by congress, one BCP MP who is against ditching the umbrella shared.

WeekendPost understands that all the UDC MPs are expected or have met with Duma Boko to clear the mist regarding the Bophirima issue. The BCP gripe in the UDC is the governance issues, which they say should be dealt with before it is too late. In fact, Kekgonegile, say they want an inclusive UDC which is transparent, has communication, respect, and consultations. Our ideas should be building principles, he said.

Kekgonegile said at a Monday presser, Bophirima Ward is not the only problem but part of it.The BCPs perspective is, there should be equality in the project, essentially calling for the Democratization of the UDC. In the current set-up of the UDC, Botswana National Front (BNF) leads the project until the transitional clause cease to exist. The initial coalition agreement were premised on cooperation and unity, but it seems that has been overtaken by events.

The BCP of UDC wants the leadership of the umbrella to be challenged and everyone be allowed to contest as long as they are members in good standing. There is a belief that with 11 MPs in parliament out of 15 UDC legislators who won 2019 elections, BCP should be given the respect it deserves in the UDC.

Some BCP are even advocating for the party President Dumelang Saleshando to even challenge for the UDC leadership. He has brought something into the opposition blog, not only UDC, there are weekly caucuses and even if you look closely the opposition MPs are eyeing the ball not the man, unlike the previous leader of opposition in parliament, opines one BCP member.

BCPs DR. MPHO PHEKO RESPONDS

I am not privy to MP caucus discussions. I am only aware of Central Committee decisions which is empowered by the Party constitution to make decisions between Party Conferences. Therefore, what the Central Committee has determined can only be varied by a BCP Conference. No other organ of the party can vary Central Committee decisions.

For the BCP, internal democracy is in our DNA; therefore, we embrace differing options by our members. In some instances, we differ and eventually arrive at a consensus. Where a consensus cannot be established we vote. Our position paper is not ready for public consumption. The five opposition parties are currently discussing models of cooperation. In the main, we support any mutually agreed model that respects democratic practices, good governance and accountability values. The BCP has long resolved to establish bilateral relationships with all progressive political parties.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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