Sunday, September 26, 2021

BCP overburdened by court cases

Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President Dumelang Saleshando has said his party is feeling the pinch of taking government to court.

He lamented growing legal costs.

Addressing the BCP Francistown Annual Conference last week he said though important, court cases are becoming expensive.

“The party is in the process of exploring opportunities for collaboration with organizations that share our concern about the issues we want to pursue through the courts. We will also be appealing to the business communities as well as larger public to contribute financially for the court cases. To this end we have opened an account with Rahim Khan Attorneys for public contributions and pledge to fully account to the public for the funds they will hopefully contribute,” he said.

He thanked attorneys who have been handling all BCP legal issues at no charge for their services. He however said it is important for the party to raise funds and cushion it against excessive costs for their law firms. He said there are a number of issues of national interest that the party has been contemplating taking to the courts amongst others Air Botswana Privatization, the Sale of Morupule B Power Plant and the Self inflicted Harm Medical Policy.

“For many years Air Botswana has been flouted as a candidate for privatization. In 2007 following recommendations to cabinet by the then Presidential Business and Economic Advisory Council, government hastily engaged a process to sell Air Botswana to Air Link of South Africa. A parliamentary motion to halt the process was not adequate to halt the process. It was only when the BCP issued notice to sue that government retreated.

With the sale of Morupule, Saleshando said billions of pula have been invested into the construction of the power plant. He expressed concern that there have been reports that this plant may be sold. He said when national resources are disposed in a secretive manner, this can only be aimed at concealing corruption. He also said the recently circulated savingram on “Removal of Medical Cover for Self Inflicted Harm” was a serious concern as this seeks to discriminate patients on the basis of their lifestyle.

“We will be challenging the formulation of this policy as it offends both the constitution as well as the ethical conduct of the medical personnel,” he said,

The BCP President also said that in 2014 they launched a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the alleged use of public resources in the construction of a private home for the President. He said to their disappointment, the Ombudsman chose to ignore the issue until her retirement. He however said they have held meetings with the recently appointed Ombudsman who has promised to investigate and report back to them.

“There is need to consider legal options as the findings of the Ombudsman are not considered binding,” he added.

Saleshando also said the party has decided to mount a legal challenge against the Electoral Voting Machines and the other changes made to the electoral laws. He said it is important to protect the integrity of the country’s electoral system. He said it is important to note that members of the public through Kgotla meetings have told the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) that they reject the EVM in its entirety. He however said it is clear that the IEC in alliance with the executive has decided that public opinion does not matter and the EVM will be forced down people’s throats.

“It should also be noted that the IEC has not subjected the procurement process of the EVM to a competitive bidding process as is the norm. This adds to our suspicion that there is more than what meets the eye with the EVM project,” he said.

Touching on opposition cooperation, Saleshando said there is amazing goodwill for the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) project given the fact that majority of Batswana voted for the opposition in the 2014 general elections. He said this shows that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party lacks legitimacy in the eyes of the voters. He said instead the illegitimate government has however maintained arrogance of an undefeatable giant, tolerating corruption by its functionaries, making society desperate to vote for them out at the next possible opportunity.

“Should we as opposition fail to mount an effective campaign and give BDP an undeserved extension of their lease of life, many voters may permanently lose hope in the viability of the vote to effect change and say way from the polls,” he warned.

On internal warfare that is currently be-devilling its alliance partner, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), Saleshando said endless questions have been asked by a number of spectators why there has been no intervention from the UDC to put off the fire. He said people should understand that it is in the nature of organizations that periodically members disagree on issues.

“What is important is for the organization to develop the maturity needed to resolve internal differences and use their differences to grow their organization and not weaken it. Should the UDC adopt the approach of an over protective parent who wants to permanently hold the hand of their child through the journey of their life, it would deny the member parties space to grow and mature,” he said.

BMD is currently embroiled in bitter faction battle which saw its congress last week turn into bloodshed in Bobonong village.

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