In the wake of rising rhino poaching in Botswana, despite government crackdowns, WeekendPost has it in good authority that President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration rejected the British army anti-poaching assistance program which was coming free of charge.
At the moment it looks like Masisi led administration is now fighting a losing battle against rhino poaching with a record 36 rhinos having been killed in the past twelve months. When he took to power, President Mokgweetsi Masisi took a repressive decision to disarm the Anti-Poaching Unit of the Department of Wildlife leaving the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) with the leading role of safeguarding the endangered species. Currently the country is home to just under 400 rhinos, according to Rhino Conservation Botswana, most of them roam the grassy plains of the northern Okavango Delta.
Former Minister of Wildlife and Tourism Tshekedi Khama, in an interview with this publication this week, said in 2018 towards former President Ian Khama’s end of office, they unanimously agreed with the British army deployed in the anti-poaching exercise in Zimbabwe, to liaise with Botswana government in assisting anti- poaching in the country. According to Tshekedi, the move was necessitated by their constant differences with the British government because of Botswana’s ‘shoot to kill’ policy.
Tshekedi said they met the visiting British crew from Zimbabwe through their Ambassador and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time. He said they then solicited assistance from the British army to help with the anti- poaching. “They were even taken on tour of the concerned areas”. According to Tshekedi Khama, they also met with members of Wildlife and BDF anti- poaching units before they went back to put together a strategy on how they can go about.
The former Minister of Tourism said he was however surprised last year when he received a call from Vice President Slumber Tsogwane at a time when President Masisi was outside the country. “He told me that we are now engaging the British army and charging them with the responsibility of our animals. I told him that we are only soliciting their assistance but he told me to wait for President Masisi who outside the country”, said TK.
However another call from Permanent Secretary to the President at the time, Carter Morupisi put an end to Tshekedi’s ambitions when he told him that what he is trying to do is not allowed and it should be stopped. “Look this was after they disarmed the anti- poaching unit. This was never about the weapons, they had wanted to train our people on bush tactics, GPS training and logistics as well as radio communications and operations. They have also offered to donate tents to support the cause and there were no conditions whatsoever attached,” he said.
Tshekedi said during his stay at the ministry, poachers knew that when they enter Botswana they will be killed. He said the policy was very effective and they had a very operational intelligent unit in place. He recalled an incident in Makalamabedi, where two men were arrested for the possession of an elephant trunk. “President Masisi’s recent conspiracy about the rising number of poached rhinos is a fallacy. He is always shifting the blame. He should just admit it was a mistake and re- equip the anti- poaching unit, get over it and move on. BDF Commander is even quiet, what are they doing about the situation?” asked TK.
Also called for comment; former President, Dr Ian Khama said the current administration has taken their eye off the ball. Khama said there was poaching under both former President Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae, whilst he was still BDF Commander. “We ensured that we tackled it, under Masire I was in charge and Masire took particular interest in what was happening. Same thing happened under Mogae. I had weekly meetings with anti- poaching teams and made demands because I was on the ground. Masisi should stop making excuses,” said Khama.
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.