President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s courageous but dicey remarks calling for ageing President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe to step down have attracted support, intriguingly from an unlikely political figure.
In September last year president Khama told United Kingdom (UK) based news agency that it is time for Mugabe to step down from the presidency of Zimbabwe and allow a new leader to take over. His reasons then was that Mugabe is too old and therefore is unable to provide the kind of leadership that Zimbabwe needs and now, a long time Mugabe sympathiser and admirer, Julius Malema who is a leader of South African opposition party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has come out clear this week stating that the time has arrived for the veteran leader to step aside.
While Malema praised the legacy of Mugabe, when speaking in Braamfontein early this week, he said with his age and ailing health the wise thing for Mugabe would be to “let go and allow other people to continue that legacy”. “The Zimbabwean situation is bad… President Mugabe cannot even handle a spade when he tried to plant a tree just recently… that is how old he is. He is no longer capable of discharging his duties and then they nominate him for presidency again in 2018,” said the concerned Malema during a press conference on Monday.
The South African firebrand was basically echoing concerns raised by Botswana President, Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama who had earlier stated that, “it is obvious that at his (Mugabe’s) age and the state Zimbabwe is in, he's not really able to provide the leadership that could get it out of its predicament.”
Khama’s contention was that, Mugabe’s continued stay in power, “is a big concern, it is a problem for all of us in the region – and it is a burden. There's no doubt about that." His stand was dicey given the silence that the entire continent had kept regarding the situation in Zimbabwe and given the fact that Botswana has also been accused of not being part of the “African agenda” but always taking the side of the west on various issues concerning Africa.
Malema for instance, had in the past criticised Khama’s foreign policy, labelling Botswana a puppet of the west for the decision the country’s leadership made in the past; decisions which were completely different from the rest of other African countries. Conversely, this time around Malema shares the same sentiment as Khama.
“We do not hate Mugabe, they can respond and insult us however they want… but those comrades in Zanu-PF are a group of cowards for not being able to tell an old man like Mugabe to go. Fidel Castro (Former Cuban president) let go when he was no longer able to lead. Grandpa, it is enough now… allow other people to take the revolution forward in Zimbabwe," Malema is now chanting this chorus.
Malema said African revolutionaries such as EFF were following the footstep of the Zimbabwean leader, but by staying in power for long, it undermines what was initially achieved through revolution. "Those leading (the) struggle tend to overstay and destroy a legitimate revolution… and that is not good for the struggle, the SA Development Community (SADC) and reclaiming the land back in Africa. There are capable young people in the Zanu-PF to continue the legacy."
Malema also criticised the leadership of AU, saying it should have taken the leading role in the political crisis which was ensuing in Gambia following last year’s elections. Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was able to avert the danger through political and military intervention.
Following negotiations, Yahya Jammeh who had been in power for more than two decades agreed to pave way peacefully. He then went on exile in Equatorial Guinea. "The ECOWAS work is something that we wish to see happening across the continent. The AU should have been the first body to declare that stand taken by ECOWAS… but then the AU, toothless and useless as it is, is led by people who have no idea where they want to take the continent to and were found wanting,” said Malema who then suggested that, “The upcoming AU summit should focus on finding ways to deepen democratic practices, and how to avoid long term presidencies in the continent."
Botswana’s Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi will be running for the leadership of AU, a victory will give her a challenge to transform Africa with regard to democratic process and transition of power. The continent is still marred by leaders who refuse to leave power at the end of their constitutional term.
Botswana has openly spoken against leaders who refuse to leave power or extended political terms amid violent situations. On the Gambia political crisis, Botswana was the first African country to state that it has stopped recognising Jammeh as president of The Gambia. The stand earned Botswana admiration from the international community and enhanced Venson-Moitoi’s bid for AU chairmanship.
“As chairperson, the AUC, I will commit to promoting practices that seek to enhance Africa’s quest for democratic development. I will galvanise the support of all members states of the AUC to ensure that, together, we champion democratic governance by promoting the strengthening of democratic institutions, safe guarding human rights and guaranteeing the rule of law,” said Venson-Moitoi in her campaigning message.
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.