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Masisi: All Eyes on Me

Publishing Date : 16 January, 2018


Incoming President Mokgweetsi Masisi has admitted this week that the centre of attention is now shifting to him as President Lt Gen Ian Khama prepares to leave office at the end of March next year.

Masisi who will succeed Khama next year, told a Social Media and Cyber Security Symposium this week that, he has become a target of the media, including ‘fake news’ in the social media. “We have all suffered from fake news. I am such an example; it comes with the terrain I am in. I am even more targeted more than ever before,” he said. “More so that the era of President Khama is coming to close, the newsworthiness of that person, associated with the position [presidency] is increasingly going to shift to me.”     

In less than five months from now, Khama will be heading home after accumulative 20 years in the presidency, first tenure as Vice President and later as president.  Since his return from Tonota Congress, Khama has been in obscurity allowing heir to the throne, to enjoy the spotlight. Masisi won the BDP president in the July Congress to consolidate his power as undisputed successor after landslide victor over cabinet minister Nonofo Molefhi. Previously it was feared that his succession could be put in jeopardy by Molefhi’s victory, which could have given the latter the confidence to challenge for the party presidency in 2019.

 Masisi revealed that he has been a victim of social media in which several accounts have been created in his name, and the person behind the creation engaged people claiming to be him. “We had to take some of them to task, some whom I know personally. Some even dared to challenge their right to have what they created, that is facebook account in my name,” he said. “I had to counsel myself and my family, even though it is not easy when you have a 12 year old daughter who sees this unacceptable behaviour.”

Masisi said the social media remain a powerful tool of influence despite the fact that it is not regulated. He highlighted factors such as Arab Spring as one event which was burgeoned by social media. The Arab Spring was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across the Middle East in early 2011. But their purpose, relative success, and outcome remain hotly disputed in Arab countries, among foreign observers, and between world powers looking to cash in on the changing map of the Middle East.

The ensuing Arab Spring that led to overthrowing of some regimes saw countries like Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen being thrown into an uncertain transition period, Syria and Libya were drawn into a civil conflict. Although Masisi has cautioned against the creation of fake accounts, to soil other people reputation, he was implicated in a controversial statement ahead of 2014 general elections when A leaked recording from BDP indoor meeting revealed Masisi boasting of the fake facebook accounts that party faithful have created to help spread the party’s propaganda.

"Mo social media re thibile, rea go oketsa. re ipitsa ka maina a eseng a rona. Re ta ipitsa bo Tom Mang Mang", Masisi said in the recording. The irony was that, a year later, Office of the President had to release a statement to distance the VP from a fake facebook account that was created in his name. Masisi has suggested that government would be forced to introduce some stringent cyber laws to deter against abuse and soiling of others’ reputation. He challenged lawyers both prosecutors and defence to prepare themselves for gruesome legal battles in future.



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