Key BDP elders are concerned, to summon the president
Security forces put on a high alert as anger with govt grows
If BDP was a strong party it could recall Masisi – Analyst
Masisi won’t resign, he will rule to 2029 elections – Kentse
Some influential ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) elders are worried by the current political developments where the is increasingly losing confidence on the President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his government, a move which political observers say should not be taken lightly.
Tensions have reached fever pitch and the elders are allegedly seeking an audience with the President out of fear that the party’s fortunes are waning daily.
One BDP influential elder, who preferred not to be named, said the BDP is in crisis.
According to the elder, it would be suicidal if the disorder in the party and government is not given the urgent attention it deserves, adding that opposition is gaining from all the mistakes of government.
“The party elders committee is gravely concerned by the disapproval that the president and the government at large face from the nation. As elders, we have a duty to guide when there is loss of direction by the party and government’s leadership. The disapproval of the BDP is bad,” said the elder.
Last week some ministers threatened to resign due to their displeasure at the way things are going, which has provoked massive public criticism of the president and the executive.
It is said that the security forces have been put on alert as there is a petition circulating on the social media platforms calling on the president to resign, a move which a security expert say it’s loaded.
A retired former soldier, who held a higher ranking level at the Botswana Defence Force’s (BDF) Military Intelligence Unit, cautioned that it is very important for peace and stability to exist in this country.
The retired BDF soldier, who pleaded not be named in fear of victimization, said the political picture across the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region is at boiling point currently.
“There is a growing similar pattern of revolution. We saw the government facing pressure from civilians in e-Swatini demanding for changes in governance In Zambia recently, a revolution against government was executed at the elections. So our own government should not take the nation’s disapproval casually,” he added.
Contacted for comment, BDP Spokesperson Kagelelo Kentse said president Masisi will not resign.
Kentse said it was unfortunate that some people are calling for Masisi to step down out of anger.
“The president has been democratically given a mandate to rule this country by the masses in 2019 and he will lead this country for two terms until April 2028 just like any president we had. Covid-19 has affected all of us in a same manner and it shouldn’t be frustration that pushes for President to be called to step down. BDP members are also affected,” said Kentse, berating critics.
According to Kentse, the BDP as the ruling party is concerned and it understands the challenges that the nation faces coming from the Covid-19.
Given the ugly state of affairs in the BDP and government, observers say Masisi has lost the direction. Political and Administrative Studies lecturer at University of Botswana Dr Adam Mfundisi said BDP as a party is weak and has no capacity to ensure accountability of their cadres in Presidency and Parliament.
“If it was a strong and vibrant political outfit, it would recall its political cadres including the President. The ANC did it twice, by recalling President Mbeki and Zuma, after the catalogues of political blunders that would have caused the party-political clout. BDP, if it was, a robust party, it would recall the President for serious misdemeanors. If elections were held today, the BDP would be soundingly defeated, and face an existential threat,” he warned.
According to Dr Mfundisi, The President and his Cabinet Ministers are not except from ethical and accountability requirements during a State of Emergency (SOE), which he say is causing problems.
SOE, he said, allows government and its operatives to gain more power which influence them to be bold and engage in corruptive practices, citing the current P58 million Tautona Lodge deal.
“The acquisition of a property in secrecy attracts criticisms and allegations of corruptive behaviour by public officials. The answer given by minister Morwaeng during a Parliamentary session explains certain responses. The answer amounts to pathological lying and falsehoods. Transparency and accountability are critical pillars in public procurement process,” he said.
Furthermore, Dr Mfundisi who doubles as public policy expert said the direct appointment of providers of goods and services for the government is susceptible to the corruptive practices.
The Secrecy, he said, breeds corruption and therefore lack of transparency and the openness in government decision making results in the loss of public confidence in government of the day. He went on to say that the Covid 19 pandemic did not require an indefinite state of emergency.
Kentse said the party understands that Batswana are currently furious due to Covid-19 pandemic. But, he said it is not known whether the party could lose if the elections were to be tomorrow.
“I still reiterate that the BDP is not worried by the harsh criticism that the President and government receives. We believe that the situation will normalise as shown by the drop in Covid-19 deaths and daily positive cases. All is not lost, this is a global pandemic and we call for calm,” he added.
As a result of the pressure that the party and government have attracted from the public, the BDP MPs and the cabinet ministers are said to have pleaded that the State of emergency not to be extended. The bone of contention by some minister is that direct appointment of tenders during SOE is not good.
Mfundisi said it has become apparent that the advent of the Covid-19 provided opportunities for unethical and uncattonatable public officials to engage in a corruptive practices. He observed that the lack of strategic leadership made it possible for government to undermine the fight against Covid 19 and resulted in the spread of the virus and high mortality in a short time.
“Government failed to build a health infrastructure that would effectively contain, control, and mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Health facilities, health workers, were overwhelmed by the number of Covid patients and deaths. High infections led to high hospitalisation and deaths due to shortages of lack of capacity to manage the spread of Covid 19. Lack of beds, PPEs, ventilators, and oxygen worsened the problems of the health system. Government posited that there was a lack of adequate resources to fund the health sector. Now, we know that this was not true,” he buttressed.
He said Money which could been devoted to dealing with Covid 19 was diverted to other government priorities such as the purchase of lodge, not for Covid 19 purpose but for other personal tastes of rulers. In Botswana, he said Covid 19 exposed ineffective leadership in the governance of the country.
The BDP mouthpiece, Kentse indicated that the procurement of Tautona lodge and the land at the Okavango Delta acquired for state forms part of development plans and cannot be ignored. “We do believe that the pandemic is the major challenger at the moment and that money must be focused on it. Yes, it is good to debate, but other national developments need to be fast tracked,” he said.