President Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi has finally come clean on his ongoing tiff with former President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama. The President last week shared with the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Members of Parliament that the reason behind his fallout with his predecessor lies on his choice of Vice President of the land.
President Masisi is now spilling it out for the public to consume and make own assessment and judgement. He expressed his disappointment at the BDP MPs caucus last week indicating that Khama had wanted him to appoint Tshekedi Khama, his brother as the Vice President of the country when he ascended to the Presidency in April this year.
However President Masisi has not taken the bate and became his own man, extending a hand to long serving Member of Parliament and a well-known disciplined BDP cadre, Slumber Tsogwane to become his right hand man. Tsogwane, a man who speaks only when he is asked to do so, was endorsed by 36 BDP Members of Parliament sealing President Masisi’s somewhat turbulent transition.
President Masisi has indicated that this is the source of his conflict with Khama because the rest of the other matters arising are prescribed in the law. Masisi has vowed to live by the rule book, which is the constitution. Some of the trajectories which were said to have incensed Khama include the removal of Colonel Isaac Seabelo Kgosi as Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS).
Former President Khama had also complained about the ill-treatment he was getting from Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi. At some stage Morupusi instructed Debswana not allow former President Khama to board their aircraft, Khama had to charter one at a cost of P50 000. Khama has also been blackout from Government media. But all these are just side issues, according to President Masisi’s statement to BDP MPs, the main query is Tshekedi Khama.
Masisi first made a public record of his differences with former President Khama in his State of the Nation Address on November 5th. Concluding his address on Monday, Masisi finally admitted to Khama animosity: “Batswana are all aware that the transition from the previous administration has not been as smooth as expected. … However, it ought to be noted, I have in my attempt to smoothen the process engaged senior citizens namely; His Excellency Dr. Festus Mogae, His Honour Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, Honourable Ray Molomo, Honourable Patrick Balopi and Honourable David Magang to assist and lead in smoothening the transition. I regret to announce that their efforts have not borne fruit up to this point.”
In his response to President Masisi’s statement former president Khama said he was shocked. He expressed that what happened in the SONA was probably Masisi trying to reason why up to now there has not been any progress in the reconciliation. “Is there any sincerity, genuineness and commitment in reconciliation if this kind of actions are still perpetuated,” Khama asked rhetorically.
The former president said quite recently the Office of the President wrote an apology and reimbursed him his flight costs to Orapa and was very much impressed. “It is regrettable that the statement given on the occasion of the SONA about the situation concerning two parties (Khama/ Masisi) reflected only one side without consultation with the other in order to give the nation a balanced perspective of progress on reconciliation or the lack,” reads part of the statement released by office of the former president Tuesday afternoon.
The former president’s own version of events is that the transition went very smoothly as acknowledged both locally and internationally in that it was a transition from an incumbent leader to his successor. The transition according to Khama took place in the period leading up to the 1st April 2018 when Masisi became President and Khama a former President. That is when the transition ended. The period after the 1st April to date is post the transition as the leadership change had already taken place.
The standoff between President Masisi and former president Khama has polarized the nation and the impact of their cold war is hitting on the ruling party, with loyalists finding themselves having to defend either of the two leaders. Some observers further point to the possibility of the ruling BDP splitting for the second time in a space of six years.
Meanwhile almost all BDP MPs and ministers at the caucus advised President Masisi to meet with the former President so that they can iron out their differences. They expressed fear that the animosity between President Masisi and former President Khama could hurt the BDP at next year’s general elections which are mostly likely to be hotly contested. A resolute appearing President Masisi, according to some who spoke on condition of anonymity did not seem shaken because he did not respond back to the MPs request.
Khama has been accused of tried to pull a Vladimir Putin on Botswana – exiting the Presidency, appointing his own man and later returning to the same seat. On the other hand others have pointed accusing fingers at Khama for trying to establish a tribacracy ever since retiring from Presidency. Former President Khama has addressed a number of Kgotla meetings at which the purpose of those was put to question by some who feared he could be creating two centres of power.
Questions have been thrown to the table as to what hat Khama uses to convene the kgotla meetings – former head of state or kgosi. Some have also wondered what the role of Bangwato regent, Kgosi Kgamane could be at this stage and what form of handover was done to give some of the responsibilities back to Kgosi Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
In his response former President Khama has told this publication that he is Kgosikgolo and has every right to convene a kgotla meeting. He also pointed out that Kgotla meetings can be convened by a number of authorities including Village Development Committees, dikgosi, Councils, Members of Parliament, among others.
The feud between President Masisi and former President Khama is likely to last a bit longer and is now attracting analysis and prophesies that project untidy sceneries for Botswana in the not so distant future. The BDP finds itself having to confront realities it has never fathomed, fears are that for the first time in a long time a sitting BDP leader could be challenged. But some BDP diehards are still hopeful that the party culture where the President is never challenged on election year is preserved.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.