Leader of Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando, has in his response to the State of the Nation Address made a strong call for state political party funding.
Calling out the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) on its hypocrisy in slamming the opposition for accepting funding from sponsors while they did the same, the Maun West Member of Parliament said that, in the minds of the BDP leadership, only their party has a right to access campaign funding from private entities, domestic and foreign.
“It is common knowledge that the likes of De Beers have in the past bankrolled the BDP, whilst Chinese businesses now dominate contributions to the BDP. This explains why foreign nationals dominated the VIP section at the President’s inauguration. It is not because they love the BDP more than Batswana who voted for it. They sponsored the victory and will be expecting to recover their sponsorship through government tenders.”
“Public funding of political parties and regulation of private funding is long overdue.”
The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Vice President also noted that after the dissolution of the 11th Parliament, President Mokgweetsi Masisi went on a whirlwind campaign using the Kgotla and all opposition MPs were now former MPs and had no access to the Kgotla. “Only President Masisi and his cabinet had the exclusive use of the Kgotla and their campaign propaganda went unchallenged, flying high on the wings of the presidential jets.
“For example, the president alleged in a number of meetings that a water project, rejected by parliamentarians across the political divide on allegations of corruption, was an act of economic sabotage by the opposition. The president knew all too well that his statement was false. It was however repeated at many Kgotla meetings because the votes it attracted for the BDP, justified the presidential falsehoods,” he added.
Saleshando said that the 2019 elections were also predominantly about a tussle between Masisi and his predecessor, a feud over which the opposition played no part in igniting.
“Only former president Khama and the incumbent know the details behind the fall out. The President has long threatened to spill the beans but never went beyond the threat. This tussle denied Batswana an opportunity to maturely reflect on the policy proposals presented by the contesting parties,” said Saleshando adding that the Khama/Masisi exchanges shifted attention from the key issues of employment creation, decent lives, better quality health care and education to the fight.”
“There can be no doubt that this also affected the reputation of Botswana on the global stage. When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers,” he said.