Party President Masisi likes ignoring people including those in his inner circle and cabinet – Ookeditse
At the height of the 2019 general elections campaign, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) brought in Lawrence Ookeditse, a staunch party activist, political analyst, and accomplished publicist into its Manifesto Champions team in a bid to outclass the opposition coalition.
After the elections, Ookeditse, A.K.A. Stallion, disappeared from the limelight as President Mokgweetsi Masisi selected his team to work with.
This seems to have frustrated the man who gave his all for the President and his party, causing him to resign after 12 long years of dedicated service to the ruling party.
In a defection that overshadowed two recent defections from the opposition block to the BDP, Ookeditse jumped ship to BDP’s offspring, the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) leaving many puzzled BDP members lamenting their loss on social media platforms.
The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA, had a meeting with the man who lost BDP Primaries to Nata/Gweta MP, Polson Majaha for a one-on-one interview.
Let’s start with your duties at the Manifesto Champions team, what were your responsibilities?
Towards elections, the BDP was having difficulties in selling its manifesto because it was a little bit cumbersome.
I was roped in to help break it down to the ordinary Motswana.
I later got to run Masisi’s Facebook account. Most of my duties were behind the scenes.
And now you have resigned, why?
We had a common goal and dream but to me, the dream was very personal.
I knew and understood the president to be someone whose government taking a different direction especially in my area, nothing speaks to the voters’ aspirations.
I refused to run for a seat in Gaborone because I am passionate about where I come from.
Get to the point.
We used to have programmes like Poverty Eradication meant to uplift people in rural areas and settlements but those were stopped to give way to a Knowledge-Based Economy.
The new programme received much fanfare since it was to help women out there doing handcrafts and baskets to market their products online but this had not helped anyone.
The aim was that it would trickle down to everyone but it has not happened and poverty eradication too has been abandoned.
The focus is on the middle class at the expense of the lower class.
Did you try to engage the President on that?
He has the mandate with him in many ways; I tried for a long time to reach out to him but failed.
Former President, Ian Khama had his misdeeds but as much as we did not like some of the deeds we knew where we were headed.
He had direction and you knew what he wanted.
The direction of where we are headed is not as clear as it should be.
New things are always coming up and we would tell people about it and they get excited only for them to be disappointed when nothing happens.
We then come back again to the people with something new, you see.
If you say you want to run a knowledge-based economy then it should be your pillar or goal that all civil servants and social work towards.
They should be key indicators on that but we keep on moving from one point to another without direction, that is not how you run a government.
Why do you think the President lacks then?
He seems not to be in a position to package his plan in a way that it can reach every citizen effectively.
Things seem to be done in a haphazard manner.
I don’t think he is intentionally trying not to do the right thing.
Maybe he is overwhelmed but he has a tendency of ignoring people and only communicating when he hears or sees something that he doesn’t like about you, and still expects you to talk to him.
Member of Parliament for Francistown West, Ignatius Moswaane complained of the same before defecting to Umbrella for Democratic Change. Are you agreeing with him?
Moswaane was telling the truth because Masisi plays his cards too close to his chest, even among those in his inner circle and cabinet.
You can never know Masisi’s plans; even the turnover of his associates and friends is so rapid and not predictable.
He used to show compassion, especially towards those bereaved but that has changed. We lost a sister in Roseline Matshome, someone who was also close to the President but that compassion was not there when she departed.
I don’t know what happened but it is clear something has happened to him.
People say your defecting was long coming since you are Khama’s boy, what is your take on that?
I have never been anyone’s boy and it is surprising because I have always been closer to Masisi than Khama.
I know why this is coming up because people have made it fashionable to bootlick and seek favours by tarnishing others’ names to the leadership.
The same group would then turn their backs and insult him once he leaves office.
I refused to join the cartel that has been insulting Khama even at party level where I helped with drafting of party statements, this looked suspicious to some and those are the same characters who have started labeling me as Khama’s boy.
I know them!
Some say you left because you felt sidelined.
When we sold the guy from next door who by then was approachable and seemed to be prioritising his people, it wasn’t about positions but when you realise that the shared dream is no longer quite the shared dream anymore, then you must give space to the party.
Covid 19 came but as a President, you have to know that you might a face crisis.
It should be about how you navigate the crisis, making sure that the most vulnerable members of the community would be the first ones to be protected.
There are a lot of familiar faces there that I worked with before and I know their seriousness about changing the direction the country is headed to