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Saleshando calls for state political party funding

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Leader of Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando, has in his response to the State of the Nation Address made a strong call for state political party funding.

Calling out the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) on its hypocrisy in slamming the opposition for accepting funding from sponsors while they did the same, the Maun West Member of Parliament said that, in the minds of the BDP leadership, only their party has a right to access campaign funding from private entities, domestic and foreign.

“It is common knowledge that the likes of De Beers have in the past bankrolled the BDP, whilst Chinese businesses now dominate contributions to the BDP. This explains why foreign nationals dominated the VIP section at the President’s inauguration. It is not because they love the BDP more than Batswana who voted for it. They sponsored the victory and will be expecting to recover their sponsorship through government tenders.”

“Public funding of political parties and regulation of private funding is long overdue.”

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Vice President also noted that after the dissolution of the 11th Parliament, President Mokgweetsi Masisi went on a whirlwind campaign using the Kgotla and all opposition MPs were now former MPs and had no access to the Kgotla. “Only President Masisi and his cabinet had the exclusive use of the Kgotla and their campaign propaganda went unchallenged, flying high on the wings of the presidential jets.

“For example, the president alleged in a number of meetings that a water project, rejected by parliamentarians across the political divide on allegations of corruption, was an act of economic sabotage by the opposition. The president knew all too well that his statement was false. It was however repeated at many Kgotla meetings because the votes it attracted for the BDP, justified the presidential falsehoods,” he added.

Saleshando said that the 2019 elections were also predominantly about a tussle between Masisi and his predecessor, a feud over which the opposition played no part in igniting.

“Only former president Khama and the incumbent know the details behind the fall out. The President has long threatened to spill the beans but never went beyond the threat. This tussle denied Batswana an opportunity to maturely reflect on the policy proposals presented by the contesting parties,” said Saleshando adding that the Khama/Masisi exchanges shifted attention from the key issues of employment creation, decent lives, better quality health care and education to the fight.”

“There can be no doubt that this also affected the reputation of Botswana on the global stage. When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers,” he said.

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UDC plan mass demonstration

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Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) will on Saturday hold a demonstration march from Old Naledi to the High Court as a call for democracy and fair elections.

Addressing members of the media on Wednesday, the UDC’s Head of Communications, Moeti Mohwasa, explained the initiative is part of their effort to raise public awareness around last year’s elections, which the umbrella maintain were unfair.

He revealed a message will be read to the public at the High Court where the court case petitions protesting the outcomes in certain constituencies are ongoing.

However, Mohwasa admitted that due to his busy schedule, UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando, might not attend as he is holding consultative meetings in Maun West.

“We know there have been talks on social media trying to discredit Saleshando but he is not snubbing the UDC events like alleged. His constituency is far and he is also busy with Kgotla meetings.”

UDC members

He added that although Saleshando may not make it, other UDC leaders, including President Duma Boko and Chairperson, Motlatsi Molapisi, will be present to read the message.

Although at the time of going to press a permit had not been issued permitting the march, Mohwasa was optimistic that the event was going to be a success.

“We expect all organisations to rally behind us as we fight this culture of election rigging,” he stressed, concluding by thanking UDC members for their ‘good behaviour’ despite the ‘situation’ they find themselves in.

“We all know elections were rigged but they (UDC supporters) haven’t been violent,” he said.

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BDP members fight for CC positions begins

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Factions expected to emerge

Factions are already emerging within the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) as party members begin to jostle Central Committee positions.

The ruling party will finally hold its National Congress in July after it was postponed last year as fears that it could destabilise campaigns ahead of the general election mounted.

Information reaching this publication has indicated that some big names already lining up for the Secretary General position following alleged instruction from President Mokgweetsi Masisi to exclude the current SG, Mpho Balopi from the race.

This, a source has revealed, has opened up for many BDP members who fancy their chances to occupy one of the most powerful positions within the party.

According to party insiders, Dorcas Makgato’s appointment as the ambassador to Australia brought to an end a strong faction that she was expected to lead.

“We had expected her to challenge the Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane for Chairperson’s position with other strong candidates vying for other positions such as SG and Treasurer. However, all came to an end the moment she accepted her new post. However, Do not rule out another lobby list in the last days because a number of people have been overlooked in the last appointments and they are ready to try for positions in the CC,” explained the source.

Some of the names that have been mentioned include, former Minister of Health and Wellness, Alfred Madigele, Member of Parliament for Molepolole South and also a Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng, former Minister of Defence, Justice and Security and also current Deputy Secretary General, Shaw Kgathi, 2019 BDP campaign Chairperson, Tebelelo Seretse, former MP for Palapye Boyce Sebetela and BDP’s Chairman of Communications and International Relations Committee, Kagelelo Kentse.

Seretse is said to be still weighing her options on whether to contest for SG, Women’s league Chair or Treasurer. This comes after unconfirmed reports have indicated that the current treasurer; Satar Dada was likely to step down.

“If Seretse goes for the position of treasurer, she is likely to be pitted against Jagdish Shah, who is the Deputy Treasurer. All this will happen only if Dada steps down,’ said the source.

The only unchallenged candidate at the time of going to press was Raymond Malinga, although there are allegations that he is not Tsogwane’s preferred candidate.

“Malinga will be contesting for the Deputy SG position and has quite a good following within the party structures,” added the source.

When contacted for a comment, Madigele confirmed having shown interest in the SG position.

“Yes, I am considering running for central committee, specifically SG position. I believe I have the zest, zeal intellect and leadership qualities to run the secretariat,” he confirmed.

On the other hand Kentse could only say, “My name must be mentioned as a democrat serving diligently as Chairman of communications.” Morwaeng denied having shown interest.

“I am not contesting for SG position,” he said in response. Efforts to get a comment from Kgathi, Malinga and Seretse failed, as they did not respond to messages sent to their phones.

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BDP accused of vote rigging

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Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has been accused of dividing trade union bodies and politicising the public service by employing only its card carrying members in senior positions.

This was said by Kgalagadi South Parliamentary candidate for Umbrella for Democratic Change, Micus Chimbombi, when delivering a message to the UDC masses who took part in the Saturday demonstration for Democracy and Fair Elections in Gaborone.

Chimbombi who was in the company of UDC President, Duma Boko, party Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando and other UDC parliamentary election losers said that the coalition of opposition parties and the large trade unions had garnered the UDC 17 of the 57 parliament seats in 2014 and sent BDP on a panic mode. “In a panic mode the BDP divided the unions and politicised the public sector by employing only its card carrying members in senior positions.”

He said that government also weakened, silenced and suppressed private media.

He mentioned that a plan to rig election began with the concerted attempt to impose Electronic Voting Machine ahead of the elections. “As if that was not enough the BDP secretly established a coalition with IEC and DIS to distort the election registration using money, multiple voting and vote buying.”

He added that unemployed youth, tertiary students, the poor and lumpen drunkards in rural areas and towns were given money, food hampers and alcohol on the election day to vote BDP. “Many of the voters carried several voter registration cards and voted twice and thrice which is illegal and fraudulent. This is how and why democracy in Botswana and the country’s peace is under threat.”

Chimbombi said that equally dreadful was the death of a free, fair and credible elections that Botswana has been known for.

He mentioned that as UDC they were staging the demonstrations and subsequently wants to mobilise the nation to stand up in defence of justice and democracy.

He added that they were demanding free, fair and credible elections, amendment of DIS Act, review of the Constitution, independence of democratic institutions towards functional democracy.

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