A clique of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) financiers is deeply worried by what they say is a growing’ disapproval rate’ of both the party and its poster boy, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, since the controversial 2019 elections.
The sponsors, who have a long history with the party, believe that should elections be held now, “the BDP is likely to lose owing to several factors,” and they even conceded that it is a cause of concern to them.”Because you cannot support a losing entity,” said a leading figure in the business community sympathetic to the ruling party.
In the main, the sponsors say, the reason the BDP and its leader seem to be unpopular to their 2019 voters and the public, in general, is failure to implement the promises the party made when campaigning for re-election two years ago. Besides, they also said that the current leadership had poorly performed in fighting the Covid-19 scourge, which has put them in a challenging position.
“Look, from where we stand, the political leaders should act on the manifesto because that is the social contract they have with the people, especially their voters,” said a man of Chinese descent who admits being one of the BDP funders, especially the party activities and during elections. “If you do not walk the talk, you are likely to see what is happening, people not approving you like they did when you promised them heaven on earth in 2019.
“If the party can accelerate the promises, it will be better. It has been two years, but nothing is moving.” Among promises that the BDP made in 2019, where they won elections with an improved popular vote of 52.65% from 46.45% of 2014 polls, it was a comprehensive constitutional review and improved ease of doing business. All these, together with the assembling of an electric car, remain a pipe dream. This inaction worries the BDP benefactors.
“Only two years to implement this, failure in which it will be an insurmountable task for the party,” said the business mogul at his plush office in Gaborone. President Masisi has, however, responded by creating a Chief of Staff post in the Office of the President, which he said is aimed at, among others, ensuring that electoral promises of 2019 elections are implemented.
Boyce Sebetela, a former cabinet minister, has since assumed the newly created office. With just under 40 months left before the next elections, the BDP is faced with a crisis of confidence. Apart from the failure to walk the promise, the affluent community, backing the ruling party, contend that another monumental disappointment is the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When it first broke out here, it was an unknown enemy; we supported this government with everything possible, including the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s),” said the financier. “We supported the initial lockdown. But leaders took advantage of us, with the Ministry of Health not paying us the amount to bring a consignment of PPEs to Botswana after assisting with the initial one.
“But we knew we are assisting the party that we always do. However, in terms of vaccine procurement, the party or the government dismally failed. “If there was consultation as promised in 2019, several people could have assisted, and we would not have lost the people we have lost now.” From where he stands, Batswana could be vaccinated if the government was serious, which is what causes Batswana to be antagonistic towards the current regime.
Another investor told this publication that they have a deep-seated worry that “if Botswana held elections now, I do not see the BDP winning, it will lose by a margin. That is judging with the mood of the people now.” Despite denying benefiting from tender kickbacks, the investors have an intention of helping the party with diagnosing its current problems and how best to address them.
“We are planning to meet with the party and draw up a strategic plan as early as next year to see what could be done for the BDP to remain in government. Already we have identified political experts who are willing to help us in this regard,” added the investor, who boasts of business entities in countries across the SADC region.
Should the plan see the light of the day, it will not for the first time as before the 1999 elections, De Beers, a company synonymous with BDP, also drew up a strategy to assist the party. The tactic, as political historian John Makgala put it, “ascended Ian Khama to assist the then President Festus Mogae as he was popular and could reinvigorate the party’s dwindling fortunes.”
In the wake of the 1994 general elections, in which the party fared poorly, and amid fears that it might lose the next general elections to Botswana National Front (BNF), De Beers commissioned Professor Lawrence Schlemmer to diagnose the party problems and offer recommendations.
THE DEVIL IS ON POLITICAL FUNDING
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has already furnished the cabinet with numerous electoral reforms recommendations gleaned from various stakeholders following the 2019 contentious elections.
The findings highlight political party funding, which has been a thorny issue for the ruling party. “To enact laws which provide for the establishment of the office of the Registrar of political parties and introduction of political parties and regulation of private funding,” said the recommendation.
Political parties have been fending for themselves in sourcing election funds, and this had observers and commentators arguing that the current climate is prone to state capture. If there was national political party funding, observers say sponsors would not be meddling in parties’ affairs like they are doing now.
The Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni says the search to appoint the Ombudsman and other critical heads of department is currently ongoing and the process is expected to be completed before end of the year.
The Ombudsman position fell vacant almost five months ago after Augustine Makgonatsotlhe was removed from the office and appointed as Ambassador to Kuwait.
Two Batswana nationals have been arrested in Zimbabwe for illegal trade in mercury. The duo is being held together with a Zimbabwean national who is being questioned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
This publication understands that the suspects who are aged between 39 and 56 years hail from Tutume and Selebi-Phikwe. At the time of the arrest, they were found in possession of a pistol, bomb motor and four live rounds. It is understood that the suspects told investigators during interrogation that the deadly substance has a lucrative market in Far East countries, where the demand is high. It is further reported that the suspects claimed that the mercury can be easily accessed in mines through middleman.
The Namibian Lives Matter Movement has weighed in on the looming border dispute between their country and Botswana.
Commenting on reports that the Namibian Parliament has dispatched a committee along the border between the two countries on fact finding mission, the group commended“the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, De-fence and Security that will engage community members living along the Namibia Botswana Border in conducting public hearings into acts of aggression and brutality by Botswana Defence (BDF) Force against innocent and unarmed Namibians.”