The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has long been a dominant political force in Botswana, with a significant influence on the country’s governance and policies. As with any political party, the BDP relies on financial support from various sources, including wealthy individuals and businesses. However, recent debates have emerged regarding the funders’ preference to deal directly with President Mokgweetsi Masisi, rather than going through the party’s middlemen.
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Compromising Business Interests: One of the primary reasons why BDP funders seek direct engagement with President Masisi is the perception that dealing with party intermediaries compromises their business interests. Some funders are involved in business competition with these intermediaries, which raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest. By engaging directly with the President, funders hope to ensure that their interests are not compromised and that their contributions are utilized in a manner that aligns with their business objectives.
The billionaires and millionaires argue that some intermediaries are now using their close proximity with President Mokgweetsi Masisi to purge and discredit them, especially those who are in direct competition with him for his own advantage.
One businessman who spoke to WeekendPost on condition of anonymity lamented that the relationship with one of the intermediaries has soured. He believes he is the reason why he became a Prohibited Immigrant at one point. “Because of the business competition he used his close connection to propagate falsehoods against our businesses and our names and I was a PI. Other directors who remained in the country had to run around until I was cleared and we learnt about who orchestrated that. Now if the party wants any kind of assistance we will have to deal directly with number one instead of the treasury,” explained a victim on Thursday this week.
Pro-Tsogwane Labeling: Another issue raised by the funders is the perception that their support is being labeled as pro-Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, rather than being pro-BDP. This labeling creates a sense of division within the party, potentially undermining the unity and cohesion necessary for effective governance, they say. Funders argue that their support should be seen as a contribution to the broader BDP cause, rather than being associated with any specific individual within the party hierarchy.
Being labelled pro- Vice President Slumber Tsogwane something which investors say they know will not go down well with the President or other key figures within the party.
Religious Wars: The diverse backgrounds of the BDP funders have also contributed to tensions within the party. Botswana is a country with a rich tapestry of religious beliefs, and the funders come from various religious backgrounds. This diversity can sometimes lead to clashes of ideologies and values, making it challenging to find common ground. Consequently, some funders prefer to engage directly with President Masisi to ensure that their concerns and perspectives are adequately represented, rather than relying on intermediaries who may not fully understand or appreciate their religious sensitivities.
While they maintain that they will try by all means to directly engage Masisi, it comes out that there are hidden religious battle along with assisting the BDP. Most of the Sikhism businessmen argue that their Islamic counterparts do little in assisting the party except that most of them are close to the high office. “On paper it would seem like they (Muslims) break the bank for the party, but records show that we are going all out for the party, so there is no need to route our funds through these guys, we will deposit them ourselves,” a businessman of Sikh religion also vented.
Misappropriation of Funds: Reports of misappropriation of funds have further fueled the funders’ desire for direct engagement with President Masisi. Allegations of financial impropriety within the party have raised concerns about the transparency and accountability of the BDP’s financial management. By dealing directly with the President, funders hope to gain reassurance that their contributions will be utilized effectively and in line with their intended purposes.
“We were labeled to be not cooperative by His Excellency when we met, and for us a group we were surprised because we knew we assisted accordingly as we usually do. But we were made aware that despite the 2019 win, the party was huffing and puffing financially.”
He continued: “One senior member of the then CC was accused of using the funds for his personal affairs, something which led to a bad fallout between the then close buddies after elections. So, for the upcoming elections we don’t have a choice but to engage President directly because if we channel our helping through some of his party members, the consignment does not reach the destination and somehow we become the bad boys, added another moneyed benefactor.”
It is not clear if President Masisi will okay the suggestion to receive donation money. It is however suspected that a special wing may be formed dominated by the secretariat to register all the funders and their contributions to avoid confusion in the future. The BDP, as one of its members shared with this publication, needs all their businessmen to come forth and assist them to mount a heavy campaign. This is to deal with the burden that comes with primary elections bitter losers as well as making an attractive campaign for 2024 elections.
The BDP is aware that there is need for a strong financial backing for next year’s election, because some of the 2019 financiers are no longer interested in assisting the party. On the other hand opposition, especially Botswana Congress Party (BCP) looks more organized; and like they say the only way is to bulldoze them by financial muscle. On the other hand the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in cooperation with Ian Khama is also sourcing from their associates to also stage an intense campaign.
Some insiders say the funders’ concerns highlight the need for the party to address transparency, accountability, and unity within its ranks. “By fostering open and direct communication channels with its funders, the BDP can ensure that their contributions are valued, their concerns are heard, and their support is utilized in a manner that aligns with the party’s objectives,” observed one central committee member.
BDP’s DADA RESPONDS
This publication contacted the BDP Treasury office led by Satar Dada to respond to the claims made by some of these funders. He said, “As a party we have clear mechanisms for accounting, so whoever who say there is misappropriation of funds is taking nonsense, because all the financial assistance or donation is routed through the treasury or party office who capture everything and deposit, if it is the money to the party’s account.”
He continued: “If there is anyone who claims to be my competitor and says I used my closeness to President to sabotage them, they are sick and I challenge them to come out in the open. Their suggestion as you say to deal directly with President, is far-fetched because he is engaged and it is not practical, that is why CC is divided so that he can also be assisted. As a party, our funders are ready to work with us because there is no other party that comes closer to us, even those who assisted us in 2019 are there, so our house is in order.”
BPC Signs PPA with Sekaname Energy
The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.
The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.
Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.
The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.
Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.
Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.
In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.
UDC deadlock: Boko, Ndaba, Reatile meet
It is not clear as to when, but before taking a festive break in few weeks’ time UDC leaders would have convened to address the ongoing deadlock surrounding constituency allocation in the negotiations for the 2024 elections. The leaders, Duma Boko of the UDC, Mephato Reggie Reatile of the BPF, and Ndaba Gaolathe of the AP, are expected to meet and discuss critical matters and engage in dialogue regarding the contested constituencies.
The negotiations hit a stalemate when it came to allocating constituencies, prompting the need for the leaders to intervene. Representatives from the UDC, AP, and BPF were tasked with negotiating the allocation, with Dr. Patrick Molotsi and Dr. Philip Bulawa representing the UDC, and Dr. Phenyo Butale and Wynter Mmolotsi representing the AP.
The leaders’ meeting is crucial in resolving the contentious issue of constituency allocation, which has caused tension among UDC members and potential candidates for the 2024 elections. After reaching an agreement, the leaders will engage with the members of each constituency to gauge their opinions and ensure that the decisions made are favored by the rank and file. This approach aims to avoid unnecessary costs and conflicts during the general elections.
One of the main points of contention is the allocation of Molepolole South, which the BNF is adamant about obtaining. In the 2019 elections, the UDC was the runner-up in Molepolole South, securing the second position in seven out of eight wards. Other contested constituencies include Metsimotlhabe, Kgatleng East and West, Mmadinare, Francistown East, Shashe West, Boteti East, and Lerala Maunatlala.
The criteria used for constituency allocation have also become a point of dispute among the UDC member parties. The issue of incumbency is particularly contentious, as the criterion for constituency allocation suggests that current holders of UDC’s council and parliamentary seats should be given priority for re-election without undergoing primary elections. Disadvantaged parties argue that this approach limits democratic competition and hinders the emergence of potentially more capable candidates.
Another disputed criterion is the allocation based on the strength and popularity of a party in specific areas. Parties argue that this is a subjective criterion that leads to disputes and favoritism, as clear metrics for strength and visibility cannot be defined. The BNF, in particular, questions the demands of the new entrants, the BPF and AP, as they lack a traceable track record to support their high expectations.
The unity and cohesion of the UDC are at stake, with the BPF and AP expressing dissatisfaction and considering withdrawing from the negotiations. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to expedite their meeting and find a resolution to these disputes.
In the midst of these negotiations, the BNF has already secured 15 constituencies within the UDC coalition. While the negotiations are still ongoing, BNF Chairman Dr. Molotsi revealed that they have traditionally held these constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally. The constituencies include Gantsi North, Gantsi South, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Good Hope – Mmathethe, Kanye North, Kanye South, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnignton North, Takatokwane, Letlhakeng, and Tlokweng.
The resolution of the contested constituencies will test the ability of the UDC to present a united front in the 2024 National Elections will depend on the decisions made by the three leaders. It is essential for them to demonstrate maturity and astuteness in resolving the constituency allocation deadlock and ensuring the cohesion of the UDC.
Repeat flight-risk suspect pays the piper
In Botswana, the Constitution Section 5 (3) (b) provides that conditions of bail are necessary to ensure that an accused appears at a later date for trial or for proceedings preliminary to trial. These conditions may include restrictions on interfering with state witnesses, the payment of a certain amount, the provision of sureties, the submission of travel documents, reporting to the police regularly, and appearing for all court mentions or proceedings. Failure to abide by these conditions can result in the revocation of bail. Robert Seditseng, a murder accused who has been detained since 2016, is currently facing the consequences of not adhering to his bail conditions – therefore paying the piper.
Despite numerous unsuccessful bail applications over the past five years, Gaborone High Court judge Michael Leburu denied Seditseng bail this week. Seditseng had requested to be set free before his trial starts on April 12th, but his freedom will now depend on the verdict. He is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Siscah Mutukee, on June 22nd, 2016, in Charleshill.
Judge Leburu ruled that Seditseng is not a candidate for bail due to being a flight risk, as he has previously absconded from court. Defense lawyer David Ndlovu pleaded with the court to consider the time Seditseng has already spent in prison, but Leburu questioned whether there was any guarantee that Seditseng would not abscond again, given that he had done so twice before.
An affidavit from Investigations officer (IO), Constable Kedibonye Botsalo, supports the view that Seditseng is not a suitable candidate for bail due to his tendency to abscond when granted bail. The affidavit explains that Seditseng was initially denied bail by the magistrate court due to ongoing investigations and the possibility of tampering with evidence. However, a concession was later made by the prosecution, and Seditseng was granted conditional bail by the lower court.
The court documents reveal that Seditseng failed to appear before court on March 7th, 2016, without providing any explanation. As a result, a warrant for his arrest was issued. The case proceeded without him on several occasions until he finally appeared before court on July 13th, 2017. On that day, Seditseng’s bail was revoked due to his inability to provide valid reasons for his absences.
On October 4th, 2017, Seditseng was granted bail for the second time. However, he was once again absent from court on October 31st, 2017, without providing any reasons. He continued to be absent from court on five subsequent occasions until his arrest and appearance before court on August 30th, 2018.
During a period of nine months, Seditseng absconded from court without providing any reasons for his actions. This repeated pattern of absconding demonstrates a clear disregard for the bail conditions and raises concerns about his willingness to appear for trial.
Given Seditseng’s history of absconding and the potential risk of him doing so again, Judge Leburu’s decision to deny him bail is justified. The purpose of bail is to ensure the accused’s presence at trial, and Seditseng has repeatedly shown a lack of commitment to fulfilling this obligation. It is crucial to prioritize the safety of the community and the integrity of the justice system by keeping flight-risk suspects like Seditseng in custody until their trial is concluded.
In conclusion, the denial of bail to repeat flight-risk suspect Robert Seditseng is a necessary measure to ensure his appearance at trial. His history of absconding from court and failure to provide valid reasons for his actions demonstrate a disregard for the bail conditions and raise concerns about his willingness to face justice. By denying him bail, the court is prioritizing the safety of the community and upholding the integrity of the justice system.