Opposition political leaders were today full of praise for President Mokgweetsi Masisi following an All Party Conference meeting that he hosted at the Office of the President (OP).
This was despite an earlier attempt, two days ago, to oust him from power through a parliamentary motion of no confidence moved by Leader Of Opposition (LOO), Duma Boko.
Ndada Gaolathe of Alliance for Progresives (AP) said Masisi deserves some credit for reviving the All Party Conference that has been dormant for the past 10 years during former President, Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s term.
“As I have already indicated the President deserves some credit for this and we have given him credit for bringing Botswana back to normalcy, bringing it where it should have been 10 years ago. This is a welcome development for the President to create a platform where political leaders can engage in dialogue on issues of national interest. So my impression is positive and this is a journey that I hope will be meaningful,” Gaolathe pointed out.
Speaking on the lack of confidence against Masisi which was expressed by Opposition leader in Parliament, Duma Boko on Tuesday, Golathe distanced his party from the motion. He said Boko’s views were not necessarily representative of all opposition parties.
“You need to distinguish between the motion itself, calling on the President to step down and an assault on the system of governance in Botswana. We still have major reservations on the way Botswana is run as a country and we still believe that there is still a lot that we can do as a country to transform lives of ordinary citizens, that is a fact,” Gaolatlhe explained before adding that, “when we talk about the motion and timing, our view is that our MPs did not have adequate time to discuss this or strategise on this. That is why it was difficult for members of opposition in Parliament to speak in one voice that covered the leader of opposition, but in terms of merits around some of the issues, not all of them, around the system that is broken, a system that has a lot of room for improvement, arguments are valid. As AP we were not able to rally behind the motion because we did not have enough time to disect issues.”
Nevertheless, Ndaba is of the view that Masisi, just as any leader who is new in a system deserves the benefit of doubt.
“I dont think it’s a question of President Masisi but rather of any leader whether in politics, private sector or any structure deserves a chance and on the basis of how they demonstrate, or how genuine they are, how competent they are and then you make judgment. But in terms of the big picture, we do agree that Botswana is punching far below its picture and that we need transformation not just normalisation. We need a new leader because Masisi has been in the system and we know his character, but in a democracy a new leader is appointed through an election.”
The leader of Botswana Movement For Democracy (BMD), Sidney Pilane, said he was also appreciative of Masisi’s efforts.
“He found a country that has been closed down by his predecessor, he appears to be reopening it; we need to reopen our country to all and to businesses. Botswana needs to go back to the Botswana that we used to know 10 years ago. There is a lot of promise, but it is too early to tell, we will be watching with keen interest,” Pilane added.
Regarding the lack of confidence expressed through Boko’s parliamentary motion, Pilane said, “Yes we lack confidence on the BDP government. We feel BDP government has destroyed our country, we think it has lost touch with Batswana and change is overdue and we need to bring that change in 2019 but for now we must give them respect, space and an opportunity for them to try and do better things for our country than they have done before.”
Pilane maintained that the motion was not about President Masisi personally but the BDP government.
During the All Party Confrence meeting, Masisi promised to put up a committee that will periodically meet to discuss issues of national interest and for that Pilane opined that, “the committee is a great idea, but it has to bring tangible results. As opposition we have to know that BDP is in power and an All Party Conference should not deteriorate into a freedom square but a forum for productive and effective dialogue. It should not be a talk show.
For his part, Gaontebale Mokgosi of Real Alternative Party (RAP), said that the committee will be a crucial platform “for deliberation on core national issues and therefore we find it very important that it is not segregative, it is for everybody. We hope so much that it will bear fruit in taking on board suggestions and ideas of other political parties regardles of the fact that they are not in power.”
Presidential Affairs Minister, Nonofo Molefhi, is expected to write letters to all political parties in the country to nominate representatives in the proposed committee.