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BDP elders stick to Masisi

BDF elders

Amid a growing discontent towards the country’s current state of affairs and the direction the country seems to be taking, the Botswana Democratic Party elders, mostly known and revered for their daring frankness and straight talk, seem to have uniformly adopted the ‘wait and see’ or see-no-evil-hear-no evil policy against their President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi.

This is despite rising concerns within the party politburo, especially the Members of Parliament and Councillors being of the view that things are not looking good.

In recent times, the party Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay has been making headlines raising concerns that the party legislators, especially the backbench wanted to meet the President about the turn of events as well as the issues surrounding the implementation of the elections promises.

So concerned has been the Councillors spokesperson, Jeffery Sibisibi, the president of Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) who this week told this publication that in his meetings with councillors, he was showered with a stream of concerns which he made time to communicate to the President and Minister,  Eric Molale.

In his political and personal battle against his predecessor, Lt Gen Ian Khama, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the President has often appeared confused, in the process making far-reaching modifications on his roadmap and firing and hiring his troops almost every single day – cutting the picture of a besieged man.

However, President Masisi says all is well, adding recently that when he sleeps, he slumbers in the comfort that all is well. But concerns are creeping in from some quarters within the party that the party elders, oftentimes referred to as the moral compass of any organisation, seem to have adopted a relaxed and devil-may-care posture towards Masisi’s administration and all its flaws.

Despite having been critical of Khama’s administration, none has openly said anything publicly and some have in fact heaped praise Masisi’s leadership and governance.

Former president Festus Mogae, Vice president, Ponatshego Kedikilwe and former minister, David Magang – two economists and one a former deputy minister of Finance and Development planning – known for their openness have been very supportive of the president, together with others, Daniel Kwelagobe and Patrick Balopi.

Most were sworn critics of Khama and did little to hide their disdain to his way of doing things. On several occasions, the pack has focused on the president’s positive intervention. Known for his track record as ‘Mr Squeaky clean’ for his contemptuous attitude towards corruption, Mogae, some say should continue to speak out on some glaring cases of corruption and misrule gripping the country. Asked last two weeks on whether he will sustain the same watchdog policy he adopted under Khama, to Masisi, Mogae ignored this publication’s questions.

One of the pack, who spoke on grounds of anonymity said Masisi is still new to be rebuked, further adding that they do advice Masisi; but have not gone public due to the humongous economic and administrative challenges he is facing, some of which are posed by his predecessor.

“I think the only difference is that we have not gone public because when we share our views, he listens or at least pretend to, which is very important. Secondly, he is facing too much opposition from many quarters and at a personal level I would think that the elders may have adopted a position to take his corner to protect him from crashing. Thirdly, the issue of advanced ages may have taken its toll on the sharpness of the elders minds compared to the Khama era,” advised one of the elders. All the BDP elders are mostly Octogenarians and now enjoying their retirement.

Politically, Mogae first tasted his politically rally at the invitation of Masisi’s father, Setlhomo, in 1989 following his nomination as a specially elected member of parliament (1989 daily news). He had been invited to address the Ranaka residents following the BDP elections victory.

Most BDP elders, who worked with the founding president, posit that Khama has not displayed what was expected of him being the son of the founding president. Recently Mogae snubbed Khama who is also his chief, over Sir Seretse Khama centenary celebrations despite being invited. He was seen bowing sheepishly to Masisi in a widely circulated picture- in a picture that portrayed him as a great statesman with a spirit of reciprocity.

Yet, some political observers say the events that gave rise to leniency on Masisi by the elders have everything to do with their resentment towards Khama’s attitude, adding that because Khama rejected their interventions and advise, the elders are bound to support one who they feel has an ear and respect. This however they add, could come at a cost to the country due to their silence on things that matter.

The opposition has described Masisi’s government as corrupt and confused; while the BDP continues to attribute almost his challenges to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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