Francistown West Member of Parliament, Ignatius Moswaane is known for shooting from the hip.
His combustible and volatile demeanour has divided opinion, creating both friends and foes within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.
Moswaane has never shied away from putting his point across, no matter how unpopular it may be.
Indeed, at the last BDP Congress in Mmadinare it took President Ian Khama’s public threat to reign in the former Francistown Mayor.
Now, with the party readying for the Tonota Congress in July, battle lines are drawn and Moswaane is back to his old antics.
The National Organising Secretary in the Nonofo Molefhi camp has cast aspersions on some of the decisions taken by the ruling party.
In this no blows barred interview with Voice reporter Kabelo Dipholo, the maverick politician talks about democracy and the possibility of opposition victory in 2019.
Q. With a few weeks left before the BDP Congress, your frontrunner Nonofo Molefhi seems to be getting closer to his challenger, Mokgweetsi Masisi. Why is Molefhi all of a sudden addressing meetings with Masisi?
This is nothing out of the ordinary. It is called inter-party democracy.
As BDP members we believe that even if we differ in opinion we should not be seen to be destroying the party, we all want the same things!
Q. Then why don’t you all rally behind Masisi?
The Molefhi camp has no problem with Masisi as a person.
Our stand is a principled one – we cannot have a principal of an organisation occupying a structure that he is supposed to account to.
By virtue of him being Vice President and soon to be President, Masisi is already a member of the Central Committee.
He’ll be in charge of government and cabinet and we are not comfortable that he now wants to be the Chairperson of a structure that has to supervise him.
It’d be like a schoolhead who wants to be the chairperson of the PTA.
It is such arrangements where leaders become their own supervisors which has killed dissent in the BDP.
Q. There is a reported fear within the Masisi camp that should he lose the Chairmanship of the party, the Molefhi camp will hold a special congress where he’d be recalled. Is this true?
The BDP has always had Chairpersons who were not occupying the office of the Vice President.
Nobody needs to be the Party Chairperson to ascend to the presidency.
Both former presidents, Ketumile Masire, may his soul rest in peace, and Festus Mogae didn’t hold chairmanship positions as VPs but they still ascended to the presidency.
Q. What changed after both the late Masire and Mogae stepped down?
When Khama (Ian) arrived people started talking about control and the question was what control if you are elected as a President.
The President wanted to control government and the party and forgot that it was not about control but how best can you run your party.
They forgot about who’ll be making executive decisions and who ensures that those executive powers are being used properly.
For example, the President had the power to close BCL, but he has never consulted the party.
He didn’t see it fit to consult members, not even regions or members of parliament.
I’m telling you, if this matter was taken to the party, BCL would be running today.
Q. Are you saying government was wrong to shut down BCL?
Yes, put that on record! The President and his cabinet today took a decision to buy weapons of mass destruction and again he didn’t see it fit to consult the party.
There is a National Council and National Congress which the President could have called anytime if he felt the country’s security was under threat.
We bought second hand weapons in 1994 and we’ve never used them and today we are going to be destroying them even though they cost us a lot of money.
Today we are buying weapons of mass destruction, which are going to be kept for another 50 years and then destroyed.
We are also going to buy the Electronic Voting Machine because we don’t want to wait for eight hours for results.
Our impatience will cost taxpayers P150 million for a machine that will then go into a storeroom for five years!
With that money we could build 15 clinics! We need to give civil servants an increment that would cost government P2billion, but we have taken P22billion to buy weapons!
Clearly we don’t value our relationship with civil servants.
This is a waste of money to benefit a few – this is our position in the Molefhi camp.
Q. Talking about increment, can the government afford to increase workers salaries?
The public service is no longer delivering because we have been at loggerheads with them for the past 10 years.
The damage that has been caused is irreparable. We could have extended an olive branch to workers in an effort to repair the damages caused.
The government can afford a 10% increment, it is an issue that should be debated at party level, but when the Vice President is also Party Chairperson he’ll not facilitate for such a debate at national council or congress because he’s using the power of the mic.
Q. President Khama has never held a press conference since assuming power, but he recently fielded questions from Swedish media. Your views?
The media is not evil; it becomes evil only when you make them believe in perceptions.
If you tell the media what you are doing they’ll write exactly that.
It’s unfortunate that the President seems to be overlooking the local media but has no problem addressing foreign journalists.
Q. The congress is fast approaching and team Masisi looks like a well oiled machine with reports of millions of Pula pledged for the campaign. How is your camp doing?
Well we’ve heard of businesses who are supporting the other team because they feel they’ll lose their work permits should they be seen to be supporting our team, which is possible.
I’m saying to those companies, what will you do then, should Molefhi win?
Our strength is that we are ready to use the resources of this nation to benefit all not for a few.
We want to improve the spirit of consultation within the nation and mend relations between workers and government.
We’ll then empower the local authority starting from the conditions of services for councillors.
These people are suffering, they can’t even afford to buy a suit, their cars are parked mid-month because they can’t afford fuel.
Q. In you view what are Molefhi’s chances in July?
He is looking good. The only problem is who will be voting.
Delegates are the same people who have nothing, people who’ll only be happy to be promised a P1, 000 for a weekend in Tonota.
Batswana should ask themselves where their suffering emanates and the answer will point right back at them.
They are suffering because of the decisions they make!
Q. Lastly, how much of a threat is a united opposition in 2019?
Any BDP member who takes the UDC lightly is a fool.
The challenge for us as the ruling party is that the opposition is right most of the time.
If they say Batswana are poor or there’s high unemployment how do you dispute that and sleep well at night.
Opposition is a real threat and the BDP needs to wake up!