Themba Joina speaks out
NOT CONTESTING: MELS President, Themba Joina

For the first time since 1994, the President of MELS, Themba Joina will not be contesting in the upcoming General Elections slated for October.

He is busy preparing for his retirement and intends to invest his finances into new projects instead of financing another gruelling campaign trail.

Despite not featuring on the political landscape, the veteran shared his insight into the current political turbulence rocking the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

What is your view of the on-going feud between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor, Ian Khama?

It is not healthy for the country! Secondly, it is a crisis affecting the ruling party and shows it has reached a point where it has to crumble on its own.

The hostility comes from the fact there has been a lot of corruption in the past.

One of the factions in the BDP feels the corruption should not be exposed.

They fear once the corruption is exposed it will destroy their reputation and their characters.

However, the feud is nothing to celebrate or be happy about.

Surely, as an opposition supporter it is good news?

This feud is likely to affect the security apparatus of Botswana – the state organs which were involved in corruption such as the army, military intelligence, DISS DCEC and even the police.

Please elaborate.

If there were any corrupt practices that took place in the past and were covered up, these incidents are likely to resurface.

And this would be a nasty and embarrassing turn of events for the country.

Although this conflict between the current President and the former head of state has nothing to do with the ordinary man, it only disadvantages the average Motswana.

Because the struggle is not about improving the livelihood of the common man but the man on the street is being caught up in the hype of the big guns.

It is the fight of the powerful!

From your analysis as a seasoned politician, what do you feel is the root cause for the stand off between the former bosom buddies?

It is the hidden secrets of corruption! You see, in Botswana there are people who believe this country is theirs in terms of personality.

To say ‘this country is my property, my family’s property.’

So if it is transferred I must have a say on how this power is transferred, how it is handled and not to be handled.

In the event it is not handled in a manner that I don’t understand, I must have a say.

Who do you think is in the wrong?

I cannot say. All I can say and know is that the BDP has institutionalised corruption.

It is not that corruption is ony cropping up now.

It has always been there but this time around some people believe it has reached boiling point, where it can no longer be tolerated.

If we look closely, for the past 10 years there hasn’t been any salary increment for civil servants.

Not because there was no money, but because finances were being mismanaged and projects were not properly awarded.

However, with the incumbent President this does not necessarily mean things will change.

But it may mean pushing away one faction and bringing the other faction closer.

Because corruption has been so entrenched in the ruling party, the other faction believes it is their time to eat.

Are you implying there is a group which genuinely want to steer the party away from corruption?

They could be hiding behind that notion but in actual fact believe it’s their turn to benefit because their faction is now in power.

So this stand off and in fighting in the party is due to warring factions?

Not really. But is because BDP has allowed corruption to take a deep grip and its members feel so entitled that when in power their friends, family members, relatives, cronies must benefit.

In the BDP you have to be close to those in power. It is not every member who benefits.

So what we are seeing is those fighting the current President feel they are not close to him.

Therefore they are threatened and foresee being alienated.

Power has been transferred to someone who has always been on the periphery; an individual who has been laying low, whose intentions were not known.

As soon as he assumed power he showed his true colours.

And what are his true colours?

President Masisi’s true colours are that he does not belong to the inner circle, the old inner circle.

This could lead to the rupture of the BDP, which is very likely because the fight is not in the best interests of the party or the people but individuals fighting for their survival.

People in some quarters believe the reason behind the relationship breakdown is because one of the parties backtracked on the gentleman’s agreement they had before the transfer of power. Is there any truth to this?

Yes, it is one of the reasons. But people fail to understand that once one takes over as President, one is guided by the country’s constitution and not by what one agreed with certain individuals behind closed doors.

Otherwise you would be a captured President, we would be talking of state capture!

The President would seemingly be making the decisions while in actual fact decisions are being made elsewhere by other people.

The true state of governance is that he who governs must make the decisions, regardless of whether the decisions are good or bad. That is the set up!

Are we a state under capture?

Indeed. If we are saying the current President should follow what he agreed with the former then it means the current President would just be a puppet.

How do you rate the opposition’s chances?

Opposition must concentrate on its programmes. There is a temptation for opposition parties to be caught in the internal affairs of the BDP.

This will not be good for them as people will lose confidence in opposition parties and perceive them as an extension of the ruling party.

Is the opposition caught up?

Not yet. I’m simply ringing the warning bells, for them to be on high alert and keep away from this imminent political danger.

With the current uncertainty surrounding the country’s political landscape, should the voters have any hope in politics?

It all depends on how political parties will behave from now onwards.

This is why I’m warning opposition parties to be on high guard. It is their behavior which gives voters hope.

If hope is not restored, we will witness much voter apathy.

Indeed our people are about to despair because of the political on goings!

However, there is still time for all parties to up their stakes and give hope to the voter.

In a sentence, sum up the current state of the ordinary voter?

The undecided voter is a little bit confused.

What should politicians be doing to dispel this confusion?

Prior to an election, politicians should be consulting the people, the party and winning over the undecided voter so they are confident of who they are going to vote for.

All political parties must strive to restore this hope in our people.

Only then will we witness large numbers of people going to the polls.

What opportunity does the BDP’s current squabbles present to the opposition?

This is the opportune time for them to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that they are an alternative.

They are different and can restore hope in the masses as a united opposition not as these small fragmented opposition parties.

There are just too many of them. Time has come for all opposition parties to rally behind one united project!

If we fail to do so this time, then too bad.

We will never have such an opportunity when the ruling party is on its deathbed!

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