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Khama leaves for India without security

Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama left for Dharamsala, India yesterday (Friday) without his security detail after the Government of Botswana decided to withdraw them at the eleventh hour. Khama’s security entails some members of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) who have been deployed at the former President’s Office and residence.   

Khama has been at loggerheads with Government over the India trip since last week. On the 26th of February 2019, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Cater Morupisi penned a savingram to the Senior Private Secretary to the Former President III in reference to a proposed trip for former President Khama to Dharamsala, India from 8th -12th March 2019.

Khama has been invited by the Central Tibetan Administration in India to officiate at the 60th National Uprising Day on the 10th March 2019. Khama’s office had written to the Office of the President on 22nd February 2019 informing them of the trip for financial and logistical support. Morupisi was off his mark on the 26th February 2019 stating that, “As you may recall, Botswana subscribes to the “One China Policy”, and essentially this means we regard Tibet as part of China.

Furthermore, Botswana’s relations with the People’s Republic of China suffered on the issue of Tibet last; and therefore as a country we do not intend to engage in anything which can further sour our relations with China. Botswana does not recognise Tibet as an Independent State.” However this week Khama’s office released a media statement confirming his trip to India and also that he will have an audience with His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Khama shall be among other dignitaries and human rights activists. Khama’s lawyers are working around the clock to get the matter resolved with amicably.  

Morupisi reminded Khama’s office that Botswana and China relations are just warming up as resuscitated by the recent State Visit to China. “It would therefore not argue well for the Government of Botswana to sponsor or support (financially, diplomatically or logistically) any personality, especially a high profile individual as the former President, to interact with the Tibetan Group, which is in exile in India.”

In his savingram Morupisi advised the former President not to accept the invitation from the Tibetan Group. “However, should you insist on honouring the invitation, then be aware that it will be difficult for the Government of Botswana to facilitate the trip for the occasion. This would sincerely not be in the interest of Botswana,” wrote Morupisi.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi visited Beijing, China, last year and made some concessions hence extracting deals from his counterpart, Xi Jingping. At the time China extended some P340 million for Botswana’s development and on top of that, cancelled Botswana’s P80million debt. Masisi’s state visit also calmed the frosty relations between China and Botswana, which erupted last year over a planned visit of Tibet’s spiritual leader, Dalai Lama to Botswana for a peace conference. China and Botswana relations date back to 1975 and the foundation of the relationship is in the spirit of the One China Policy, which Botswana has always respected.

During the visit Masisi committed to review the immigration policies with a view to relax visa and work permit requirements for investors, businesspeople and other foreign nationals visiting the country as either tourists or workers. Botswana and China have signed Memorandum of Understanding on various areas of cooperation during the recent state visit.

But Khama is not taking Morupisi’s rejection lying down. In this protracted war that has pitted once close allies, the Former President has made it clear that he will approach the courts for redress because he is entitled to government assistance on logistics and finances. “I think I will take the legal route. As much as I know I am entitled to four international trips per year and they do not have a say on where I am going. This is unacceptable. Those people value my leadership,” said Khama.

Khama has had a run in with the Masisi administration in the last 12 months with his main protagonist being Morupisi. The former President is also having a political battle with his successor whom he is accusing of setting government institutions such as the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) on him and his associates. Masisi succeeded Khama on 1st April 2018 and the former has already told the nation that the transition period has been hectic while the latter dismisses the claim.

Trade value between Botswana and China is skewed in China’s favour. The trade value between China and Botswana was US$ 266 million as of last year. Chinese statistics show that in the same period, the outflow of foreign direct investment from China to Botswana dropped 77 percent year-on-year to US$ 18.78 million, while the amount of FDI from China to SADC was US$ 1.07 billion. China’s main imports from Botswana were jewellery, precious metals and their products, mineral sand and ash; oil seed kernels, clothing and accessories.

The Tibetan invitation is not the first development that has ignited a confrontation between the Government and former President Khama. Just recently the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation had to release a statement rebuking the former President over his utterances directed at US President Donald Trump. Khama had labeled Trump a racist. None the less Khama held his own insisting that he is entitled to his opinion and that he has been consistent in his assessment of Trump even when he was President.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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