Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairman, Mokgweetsi Masisi seized the moment at his party’s luncheon with an African National Congress (ANC) delegation and badmouthed the Botswana National Front; with whom the ANC has close relations, saying that BNF is no longer what it used to be.
According to Masisi, the current BNF does not stand for what it used to before because its participation in the Umbrella for Democratic Change coalition diluted its program. The visiting ANC delegation was led by Secretary General Gwede Mantashe. In an unending battle between BDP and BNF for association with ANC, Masisi said BDP has a long history with the ANC which deserves to be given recognition. “I am not jealous of your relation [with BNF] but this is not the BNF that you know. It being part of coalition of many opposition parties pollutes its program. It no longer stands for what used to stand for,” he said.
“With BDP you know what you are working with because we have been consistent with our program.”The Vice President further told the delegation that one thing that is often overlooked is that BDP is a liberation movement and has played a significant role in ending apartheid rule in South Africa.“We are a liberation movement that did not bear arms. The first conference of the ANC was held in Botswana at Lobatse,” he said. Masisi said the BDP government should protect these historical ties with ANC so that they are preserved for the future.
In his brief speech earlier, Secretary General of the ANC, Mantashe had insisted that the South African ruling party will continue having bilateral relation with both BDP and BNF. “The historical relations of ANC with BDP and BNF are different. ANC is not in a polygamous marriage with BDP and BNF. We do not sleep in the same bed,” he said. “I do not want BNF comrades calling me every time I am here enquiring about my visit to BDP. I also do not expect BDP to do the same when we are visiting the BNF.”
Mantashe who also revealed that he will step down as ANC Secretary General in December denied that ANC have ditched BNF in favour of BDP. “We are in constant communication with BNF and we always send a delegation to their events,” he said. “Unless they want the secretary general in his capacity to come but ANC always sends representatives.” Matantshe revealed that it is important for Botswana to not only be an example of a good government but to also influence the world.
He attributed Minister of Foreign Affairs Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s failed bid to lack of unity among the SADC bloc and its failure to be an influential block. He also remarked that the relationship between Botswana and South Africa is not optional but necessary, therefore necessary for the two countries to continue engaging each other both at government and party level.
Mantashe gave thumbs up to Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Vincent Seretse’s policy to reserve certain retail businesses for Batswana, which has seen the dominant South African retailers being put on the sidelines. The policy has seen the clash between property owners and South African retailers, who feel hard done by the policy. “I do not have a problem with that if it is meant to empower the citizens [of Botswana]. In South Africa we have localisation policy which we encourage businesses to buy from our people. If you have a small farmer where do you expect them to sell?” he said.
The ANC Secretary General arrived in the country on Wednesday and held a bilateral meeting with the BDP leadership. Both parties have been cagey on revealing the contents of the meeting. Both Botsalo Ntuane, the Secretary General of the BDP and Mantashe refuted claims that the meeting had anything to do with the perceived ongoing political crisis in South Africa brought on by President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle. The re-shuffle resulted in the country finance minister being shown the door, subsequently resulting in the rand being set on free fall.
The leadership of the two parties further insisted that the meeting was long planned and the cabinet reshuffle by Zuma could not deter the meeting from going on. The ANC delegation also paid a courtesy call to President Ian Khama before proceeding to the luncheon which was held at Botswana Craft where they were treated with traditional dishes. Also in attendance at the luncheon were Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Vincent Seretse, Foreign Affairs Minister Venson-Moitoi, BDP Women’s Wing Chairperson Dorcas Makgato and Youth Wing Chairperson Sam Mavange among others.
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.