Incoming President, Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi has promised to wipe the floor with opposition parties in the 2019 general election. Parading a host of celebrities and political activists from opposition parties, the outgoing Vice President salivated at the prospect of his Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) winning back a good number of opposition held constituencies.
Masisi, who was unapologetic in his piercing jabs at the opposition, especially the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) presented the BDP as the most credible political formation in the country while also indicating that the opposition collective is in disarray and that “most of them in Parliament have confessed that they are scared of what will transpire in 2019.” He stated that there is no opposition party that is not talking to them (BDP), they are telling us about their discomforts at their political homes.
The BDP chairman had invited the press to come and bid them farewell as the chairman of the party. Masisi has been BDP chairman since July 2015. He used the opportunity to share the party’s accomplishments under his chairmanship which include his recruitment drive which has seen the party welcome a host of former opposition activists especially from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and to some extent from the UDC.
Masisi explained that their targeted recruitment has reaffirmed that they are the only growing party in the country. To demonstrate his claim, the incoming President zoomed into the results of the Ralekgetho ward bye-election which saw the BDP trounce the UDC and AP. BDP had a winning margin of 106 compared to a winning margin of 21 in the 2014 general election. The BDP attracted 339 votes while the UDC got 233 and the AP came distant with 45 votes. According to Masisi this is the true picture going into 2019, analysts and observers should expect a growing BDP appeal across the country, he confidently declared.
In 2014, BDP had won the ward with 291 votes against the combined votes of UDC and BCP of 488. In the recent bye election, BDP increased its vote to 339, against the 278 of the combined opposition. Masisi said the party’s targeted recruitment drive ensured that BDP retained the constituency. The BDP recruited the former ward councillor from the BNF and gave him the responsibility as the campaign manager.
The former Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration mocked the campaign strategies used by opposition parties in Ralekgetho during the bye-elections campaigns. He said the manner in which they tried to relay their messages were alien to the people of Ralekgetho, hence why they lost the ward.
With opposition embattled in splits and internal fights, Masisi has vowed to recruit several MPs from its ranks. He hinted that already, he has been in talks with numerous MPs across all political parties discussing the possibility of them joining the BDP. “Many across all parties have been talking to us about joining the BDP. Many are going to join, wait and see,” he said.
The Mochudi East bye-election is the next battle ground and Masisi has vowed to come out with guns blazing. He said they are not put off by the narrative that the coming together of the BCP and the Botswana National Front (BNF) automatically means that the numbers that voted for the two parties in 2014 add up. He said Ralekgetho has demonstrated that the dynamics have changed in the political landscape. He said they are presenting a credible candidate in Rev Mpho Mmachakga Moruakgomo.
“I am going to continue to work with the central committee to ensure that the party attracts more members through this targeted recruitment.” Masisi said as a trendy party, the BDP intends to woo more young people into its fold. He said they will be stepping up their campaign ahead of the 2019 general election hence make the opposition uncomfortable. “If they can’t take it they might as well fizzle away. This is my bowing out as party chairman but note that we are coming for the opposition in a big way. We are targeting their members,” said Masisi.
The incoming President shared that as the BDP they are more than willing to acknowledge blemishes in their rule while also attempting to correct them. According to Masisi the BDP is lowering the average age of its candidates at council and parliamentary level. He expressed confidence in the caliber that has so far indicated intention to contest elections under the BDP. He said he is spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing cabinet ministers. “The quality we have, you can’t find it at the UDC,” he said. Masisi said he has brilliant candidates contesting elections, “it is not just about degrees, some of our candidates who do not have those degrees are just brilliant,” he said.
Masisi will be inaugurated as the country fifth President on April 1st. He is expected to name his Vice President and new Cabinet on Wednesday next week. As he steps down as party chairman, the BDP central committee will meet on April 9th to elect a new party chairman of the party.
In his preamble Masisi promised that his administration will continue to cherish a free press. He said the press as an institution is one of the defining ethos of the ruling BDP. The incoming President said it is inconceivable that the BDP could curtail media freedom, “but you must be man enough to take criticism as much as write about us. We will continue to give you feedback on your work,” he said.
Masisi will succeed President Lt Gen Ian Khama as the country’s fifth president. The Moshupa/Manyana legislator, who takes over the reins at the party which suffered the worst electoral performance since independence at the last elections, is adamant that ever since becoming party chairman, the fortunes of the party are beginning to change.
“With the benefit of evidence as coming from the 2014 general elections results and the perception therein, the machinery and the tempo has completely turned in favour of the BDP. The BDP will become even more erect as times goes on,” said Masisi. For the first time since independence, BDP’s popular vote fell beyond 50 percent during the 2014 general elections, something which Masisi is determined to change.
Masisi said the BDP remains the only party which is confident of its process, as evidenced by the manner in which they have been conducting central committee elections. The BDP elections have been conducted by Democracy Research Project from the University of Botswana. The incoming President who rose to the position of Vice President after the 2014 general elections was elected party chairman, a position traditionally associated with the vice presidency in 2015 and defended the position against Nonofo Molefhi in 2017.
Masisi revealed that he is not worried or anxious about the appointment of his cabinet as well as his deputy. Masisi will appoint his cabinet on Wednesday next week, three days after being sworn in as president. WeekendPost has gathered that three names are currently dominating conversations within the ruling party’s central committee as favourites for the chairmanship namely Slumber Tsogwane, Tshekedi Khama, and Samson Guma Moyo. The BDP chairmanship is a ceremonial position but has so much weight attached to it. Vice President Masisi fought hard and smart to retain the position against Molefhi at the BDP Tonota elective congress last year July.
Over the course of time party loyalists have started to attach power to the position because it has been associated with the vice presidency since the days of Peter Mmusi – they believe this has added weight to the position of chairman of their party.â€¨â€¨In the current scenario, members of the BDP central committee will have the final say on who will take over as chairman when Vice President Masisi becomes president in April. It is expected that it should be a consensus or a majority split to decide on the next chairman.â€¨â€¨
Tsogwane is said to be commanding a strong lead as the lobbying intensifies. He was strongly behind Masisi in the run up to the Tonota congress. Some in the party point to his loyalty to the party and his position in Parliament as the longest serving Member of Parliament as complementary strengths that validate his pole position to succeed Masisi as chairman. Masisi will also automatically cease being Member of Parliament for his constituency when he becomes president on Sunday, necessitating an election run-off.
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.