Before Mokgweetsi Masisi was crowned President in 2018, he had affable brotherly relationship with former Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader Gilson Saleshando, but all that broke down when Masisi started showing symptoms identical to other African leaders, the senior Saleshando has told WeekendPost.
In an interview this week, Saleshando highlights how disappointed he is with a President who he initially thought would be the game changer. “A lot of things happened and we are no longer in talking terms but we used to be very close,” he said before chronicling events as they happened over time.
In fact cracks in the relationship began to show in 2018 when Saleshando declined Masisi’s overture to be part of the entourage that will travel to Zambia where Masisi was to officiate at an agricultural show. “I refused the Zambian trip because to me it was a waste of taxpayers’ money for an event that was not going to benefit the citizenry,” he said.
Since then Masisi never talked to Saleshando as it was the norm; and the latter also decided not to; “because I realised that he was a wolf in a sheep’s skin”. “It appears since he became President his wealth accumulation is ballooning and that to me is very concerning and I decided to be distant. From where I stand he is sleeping and eating corruption just like other African leaders,” said the two-term legislator.
From Saleshando’s perspective, Masisi is not walking the talk when it comes to the motto of ‘zero tolerance for corruption’ which was his election catchphrase. “If you look at appointments of land board members across the country, it will show you that he says something and acts differently or otherwise. How can it be coincidence that all the members of the land boards are from BDP?” he asked rhetorically.
Another issue which tormented the former Selibe Phikwe West legislator is the P2 million gift President Masisi received while campaigning for Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) 2017 chairmanship. “This was a sign that the nation will be led by someone who can receive financial gifts from businessmen and it is not acceptable,” says Saleshando who is currently among Wayei elders fighting for recognition of their Kgosi.
Choppies founder and acting CEO, Farouk Ismail confirmed in an affidavit last year that he donated P2 million to President Masisi’s 2017 chairmanship campaign and another P2 million to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in 2014, as part of sponsorship for the ruling party, money which he says were very clean. President Masisi’s acquisition of Banyana Farms is another factor that pushed the veteran opposition politician further away.
“He was not supposed to bid because of his position and influence because automatically he would be given the land against other qualifying natives; secondly he was interviewed at his plush office [State house] a privilege other bidders were not accorded. That was not right because he might have even intimidated the interviewers,” Saleshando said.
Apart from the Banyana farms issues; Saleshando is also distrustful of Masisi’s presidency to the extent that he believes his predecessor Lt Gen Ian Khama fared better than him. “Comparatively Khama was better, Masisi is more like other African leaders he is very close to them; and even if things are not going in the right direction he cannot speak against them. Khama was outspoken he would reprimand and air his opinions especially when human rights were violated but Masisi is eating with those that violate humanity.”
A case in point is violence against civilians by Zimbabwean police and soldiers early this year, that was supposed to be strongly condemned by the government of Botswana led by Masisi, Saleshando posits.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has identified at least 12 cabinet ministers who form part of his long-term plans owing to their loyalty and tenacity in delivering his vision. Masisi, who will see-off his term in 2028 — provided he wins re-election in 2024 — already knows key people who will help him govern until the end of his term, WeekendPost has learnt.
Despite negative criticism towards ministers from some quarters over a number of decisions and their somewhat cold deliberations and failure to articulate government programs, Masisi is said to be a number one cheer leader of his cabinet. He is said to have more confidence in his cabinet and believes going forward they will reach the aspired levels and silence the critics.
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.