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Ndaba tells Boko off at Nashas meeting

Alliance for Progressives (AP) has expressed misgivings about joining the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) under the leadership of Duma Boko, instead preferring to work with Dumelang Saleshandos Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

Chronicles of the all opposition leaders meeting called by the chairperson of the opposition forum, Dr Margret Nasha a fortnight ago, document how thorny the path to opposition unity would be in the build up to 2024 general elections.

The meeting was called after negotiators pressed Nasha to engage with the Presidents because of the worrying fact that there seems to be no progress in the talks.

Ndaba Gaolathe, the leader of AP, which is currently supporting BCP candidate in the Bophirima Ward bye-elections is said to have taken Boko head on, over some issues which he said have been recurring even at a time when they were still part of the Umbrella.

The governance issues, which includes failure to hold meetings by the UDC NEC as alleged by the BCP in recent days was among things raised by Gaolathe according to those who attended the meeting.

For AP to join UDC without hesitation, it is said Ndaba wants Boko to assure them that there will be no hiccups and there will be consultations and all parties will be treated equally. For some time, leading to the current squabbles in Bophirima, BCP has been raising the same.

Those privy to the details of the meeting, say, the AP leader, had misgivings on some remarks made by the UDC President at a time when negotiations are still ongoing. At the top of his concerns, AP leader is said to have questioned Bokos remarks, in which he said all the negotiating parties should be ready for “UDC or Nothing.”

Ndaba is of the view that those remarks are intimidating, and each party should be free to present their own position of model rather than be imposed to subscribe to a certain model.

For now, this publication understands that, AP is in favour of a pact model. On the other hand, Boko at the meeting said the pact model would mean, after elections, the party would be free to negotiate with whoever in case there is a tie.

When UDC is tied with BDP for example, and we need AP seats they can go either way as they can cooperate with anyone and that would have compromised opposition unity talk, Boko allegedly said.

Again, another qualm that Ndaba has with joining the Umbrella are reports that even if they join, the two positions of President and VP will not be touched.This according to Gaolathe is not good for governance and should be corrected and all the parties should be equally represented in the UDC NEC senior positions. It was, however, corrected and resolved that UDC will avail all position to new entrants in the coalition.

Other meeting attendees were Dumelang Saleshando (BCP), Caroline Lesang (BPF) and Philip Bulawa representing Motlatsi Molapisi of Botswana Peoples Party (BPP).

It is at the meeting that AP and BPF presented their position papers, with UDC expected to meet sometime in April and consolidate their stand before submitting to the forum. Nasha, after the meeting, gave the negotiators postmortem of the meeting as to how everything transpired.

A letter inviting the Presidents blamed UDC for dragging its feet in facilitating the talks that were anticipated to conclude last year. The committee has had to postpone its discussions on proposed cooperation frameworks for the 2024 general elections numerous times, largely because the UDC is yet to come up with an agreed position paper.
This has caused an air of despondency among cooperating partners, hence the need for your timely intervention.
UDC is in talks with both AP and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) for by-elections and 2024 general elections cooperation.

However, the current UDC constituent members, BCP, BNF and BPP are favouring the current umbrella set-ups. This is actually a compromise, especially from BCP, which prefers a merger, sources say.

However, with AP backing BCP in Bophirima, some say they have rendered the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) redundant.

Commenting on the matter, UDC Spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa said indeed the AP stance undermined the MoU.
Our expectation is that AP would support the UDC candidate because we both have an obligation to support each other in the bye elections in terms of the bye elections MoU that we have entered into.

Anything to the contrary would be undermining the agreement, he said, before adding, It is up to the UDC NEC to make a determination in the wake of this breach.

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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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