Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament have this week received WhatsApp messages requesting them to endorse President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the party presidential race against Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi.
Some ministers see this as coercion and that those who will not abide by the instructions may face a possible chop from cabinet. However others see it as just a simple strategy of trying to pressure Venson-Moitoi to drop her bid against the president. Members of the BDP Strategy, Publicity and International Relations sub-committee have embarked on the production of short videos where party members of note endorse Masisi. Several videos of have already been posted on social media pages, a strategy which is reportedly aimed at giving the incumbent credibility over his competitor.
Recently the trend has extended to cabinet ministers and already the Minister of Transport and Communications Dorcas Makgato has come out strong in support of the president. A very close source to the developments said the idea to endorse Masisi by his ministers was hatched after the president told his cabinet that he is facing a strong candidate in Venson- Moitoi.
Some cabinet members who spoke to WeekendPost on condition of anonymity said they are not happy with the idea of Masisi endorsement videos. “To some of us they mean nothing, we may read that message, but at the end the voting decision lies with me,” said a minister who spoke on condition of anonymity. He told this publication that some in the party are telling them that should they decide not to publicly endorse Masisi, they may lose their ministerial positions.
Contacted for comment the Publicity and International Relations sub-committee member Fish Pabalinga confirmed the alleged WhatsApp messages sent to ministers. However, Pabalinga said the tone of the message was not harsh but provoking them to show cause. He said they don’t force them to do videos and claimed that those who do not want to do video endorsement are free to do so.
Pabalinga refuted allegations that those not partaking face a chop from the cabinet. He is of the view that this is just a small exercise aimed at endorsing the president which they copied from other governing political parties such as the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa. Sources close to the development allege that Masisi is not certain about the level of support he enjoys within the party therefore intimidating those who have the will to support Venson- Moitoi. Former president Lt Gen Ian Khama has declared his support for Venson- Moitoi a move which further deepens the BDP into strong factions with those aligning themselves with Mokgweetsi Masisi and those aligning themselves with former president Ian Khama.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.