The Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) is gravely concerned with the level of corruption that is fast becoming a pandemic in the country.
Even more alarming is the fact that reports linking the ruling party leadership to corrupt activities and shady business dealings reached President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who during the 2019 election campaign declared he would tackle corruption and mismanagement “bare-knuckled.
” Less than two years in office, Masisi seems to have acquired massive wealth overnight, with among other things, reported two ranches in Ghanzi and Sekoma. Along with newly acquired large chunks of land all over the country, he is now reported to be bidding for a government-owned ranch, Banyana Farms, undermining the set rules that disallow anyone with a ranch to partake in the bidding for any government-owned farm. Moreover, being among the shortlisted three farmers, Masisi’s position disadvantages other bidders.
The President’s business dealings and partnerships are of great concern and smack of State capture Gupta style. The revelation that Masisi is a business partner to Choppies CEO, Ramachandran Ottapathu is of grave concern, raising questions of how the President of the land can actively undertake business with controversial businessmen: whose operations (Choppies) have been a subject of investigation and even suspension from the Botswana Stock Exchange for not adhering to business ethics and accounting processes.
Just recently, Ram’s new business was said to have acquired P200 million funding from a government entity, the Botswana Development Corporation. And today we woke up to the news that the government has signed a P270 million pension deal, without tendering, with Choppies. This is a deal signed under the State of Public Emergency which gives the President unique powers to run the government.
It is not inconceivable to deduce that the State of Emergency, which was hurried through the special sitting of Parliament in March, was used, and will be abused to the benefit of the President.
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The level of corruption has gone high during this period of SoE and Covid-19 pandemic has been a source of enrichment for the President, his cabinet, some in the BDP, and his business partners, who sadly are not indigenous Batswana, ‘Batswana ba sekei’ he claimed to fight for during electioneering. As the President and his partners have found a captive meal ticket through the crisis, Batswana continue to suffer in abject poverty, unemployment, and uncertainty. Repression is taking the route.
Just days into State of Public Emergency, opposition activists were arrested, tortured, and charged allegedly just for airing their views on the state of governance of the Covid-19 pandemic. This calls for concern as to how far the Masisi regime can go to silence dissent.
The recent blacklisting of Botswana by the European Union and economic outlook downgrading by the Moodys Rating Agency, under Masisi’s watch is a clear sign that our country is mismanaged.
Until and unless the rot and mismanagement of the economy are stopped, Botswana under Masisi is sliding into the dark periods of corruption, looting, and ultimately dictatorship.
It is in this regard that the BPF calls on President Masisi to resign with immediate effect. We also call on the civil society, opposition parties, the media, and patriots to stand up against all these ills and speak with one voice and say enough is enough.
Biggie Ganda Butale
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Botswana Patriotic Front