The late former Vice President Mompati Merafhe has described Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President and his father as hypocrites for criticising the accession of Lt. Gen Ian Khama to the Vice Presidency in 1998 only for Gilson Saleshando to exercise a similar gambit directly to his son’s favour.
Merafhe who passed away on the 7th of January this year wrote in his autobiography which was launched this week that in 1998, Gilson Saleshando and his party bristled at the accession to the vice presidency of President Khama just because he was the son of the first president, Sir Seretse Khama.
Merafhe wrote that what BCP then went to do when Dumelang Saleshando succeeded his father in 2010 at Maun Congress was blatantly monarchical. Merafhe stated that it was an open secret that the father decided to step down for no reason other than to pave way for the son; a passing of the torch that had actually been four years in the making. “It was virtually a coronation, which was disguised as a democratic changing of the guard at the party’s ‘elective’ congress,” he wrote.
In his book, Merafhe said he was surprised by Dumelang Saleshando’s insistence that he should retire from politics due to old age in a manner evocative of his own father who had stepped down as BCP president in July 2010. “My response therefore was that since BDP and the government were not a monarchy, I was in no hurry to relinquish my post to pass the baton dynastically on to some relative waiting in the ways,” he said.
Merafhe stated that although he did not want to believe the Saleshando family had strong hatred for him, he contended the two evinced a certain rancour at him that just stopped short of being spiteful. “At times, the incentives they hurled in my direction were such that I felt harassed and insulted,” he expressed. “It may have been a case of simply of playing politics- I do not know- but my ego did take a substantial bashing.”
Merafhe made it clear in the book that he did not see Dumelang Saleshando as an adversary and he rated his intelligence highly. “When I look at young Saleshando I do not see an adversary per se: I saw otherwise brilliant and articulate son of the soil who I hoped would mellow with age,” he wrote.
Merafhe on the book attributed Saleshando’s acumen to the free education that BDP-led government provided, and noted that it was not going to waste since it could turn out products of high intellectual acumen. “It was a delight to listen to the young man put forward his views so logically and with a striking mastery of the English language even if the views might come across as off base in the grand scheme of things,” he mentioned.
The former army chief said opposition ideas were always populist and did not consider the factors that influenced the government he was part of. Merafhe said at the height of economic meltdown the then Leader of the Opposition, Otsweletse Moupo of Botswana National Front (BNF) called for government to abolish school fees, reduce taxes, increase the salaries of civil servants and go on a borrowing spree to fund pensions and other social security programmes.
Merafhe is of the firm belief that government did a sterling job during the economic recession and managed to save thousands of jobs as compared to cutting them like other countries did.
The former Mahalapye West legislator also lamented that the opposition hardly respected the President Khama to a degree that bordered on contempt and obloquy. “They seemed to view him as president of BDP and not as the state president,” he argued.
“One backbencher from the ranks of the opposition made direct insinuations to the effect that the president was a foreigner. Another said the president was capable of coming to the honourable house and all of them. Such utterances were not only juvenile and ludicrous but raised serious aspersions on the utterers’ state of mind.”
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.