From mouths of MPs
“I have never seen a party without promises, it will be the first time” Tsogwane
Last week Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane, found himself in the firing line as opposition members voiced their anger at what they termed President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s ‘habitual lies and empty promises’.
Taking question after question, Tsogwane defiantly stood his ground.
Introducing the onslaught, was Maun West Member of Parliament (MP), Dumelang Saleshando, who was in a fiery mood…
SALESHANDO: The question is directed to the Vice President, that is for him to update this house on the progress made so far regarding promises made by President Masisi in 2018 ahead of general elections.
When addressing beef farmers in Ghanzi he declared that the use of Botswana passports to cross into Namibia was about to be lifted and that Omang cards were to be used to cross the border instead.
This brought a lot of hope for people in our constituencies, especially those who have farms across the borders, and those who cross to Namibia to seek medical attention and attend burial of their family members among other important duties.
TSOGWANE: We are almost there but a bit far.
When I say we are almost there I mean preparations are ongoing and a technical committee has been set up to oversee the project.
There is a lot involved because even the said Omang will not just be an ordinary Omang card but will require special features.
This is a timeous and detailed process which is done with utmost care considering issues of security and its sustainability.
Following pronouncements by His Excellency the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi and His Excellency Dr Hage Gottfried Geingob of Namibia to explore the possibility of using National Identity Cards to be used as travel documents between the two countries, the process leading to its development began in earnest.
The two countries have since set-up a technical committee that embarked on the preparations of a concept note with details on technical and security aspects that ensures authenticity of travel documents, as well as accommodating travel and migration requirements.
These have since been captured.
SALESHANDO: Essentially what this means is that what the President said in Ghanzi wasn’t the truth.
Then, when the President was speaking in Ghanzi , he said preparations were at an advanced stage but what the Vice President is telling us today is that it was only after the President’s speech that negotiations begun.
That is why three years later there is nothing to show of it.
Are you not concerned about these empty promises Vice President?
He had once promised Batswana an electric car which he said was going to create 100, 000 jobs and four years later there is no sign of the car.
He said internet will freely be available for every new residential plot allocation, still nothing on that.
Of recent he has been preaching knowledge based economy yet we have seen nothing new in terms of knowledge and education status in this country.
Are you not worried about the President’s promises?
TSOGWANE: No, there is no cause of concern about these things because he promised that they will be done; the only worrying thing is that you never believe anything, you are just like [Doubting] Thomas.
All the things he had mentioned and promised, they will be done, they are in the process and every now and then you are given an update on their progress.
Just relax and acknowledge that things will happen in due time.
Consultation is very important, but any of those may fail to go through then you may have to understand that sometimes it happens that way, not everything happens the way we had planned.
An example in point is that of Covid, nobody knew or expected that one day we will have to battle with that, but it happened.
SALESHANDO: The President used the words ‘we are at an advanced stage’ and you are saying it is a concept.
One of you is not telling the truth and I doubt you are the one.
Even though you say I am a Doubting Thomas, I have given you examples of untruth statements that Masisi has publicly pronounced.
Just recently he told a BDP meeting that Botswana is the SADC country with the lowest petrol price; and yet Angola sells petrol at less than P5 a litre.
His party members believed him so much that MP Healy went on radio to echo the same sentiments.
Are you saying you are not worried about a President who finds it hard to tell the truth?
On the passport issue, we want a time frame, not far or near, when exactly do you expect to complete the exercise?
TSOGWANE: We cannot give an exact date, but what we can say is that the work is in progress.
Advanced stage does not mean completion but that we are far from where we started.
The consultations must continue, because we are not working alone on this.
This involves two countries.
You may not know, maybe the problem would be on the other side of the border, so don’t only assume that we are the ones delaying everything.
What I know is that everybody in this country knows that you never believe in anything, not anyone and neither will you ever believe any other person.
We differ, hence you are that side, you know nothing about what is happening in governance and talks between Botswana and Namibia, so just relax and everything will be done accordingly.
Just don’t get used to doubting your elders and accusing them of telling lies every time after they speak, it is uncultural.
KESETEGILE GOBOTSWANG (Sefhare/Ramokgonami MP): Why don’t you just come clean and admit that you cannot set a date of delivery because you know there is no truth behind the said promise.
Secondly, was the issue of Omang part of the discussion at the last bilateral commission?
TSOGWANE: Until the technical team releases a report, we cannot set dates.
As of the last commission, I cannot give a concrete answer unless I have a copy of the agenda.
KGOBOREGO NKAWANA (Selibe Phikwe East MP): In comparison there is more movement of people and cross border trade going between Botswana and South African borders.
So what is the comparative advantage of Namibia, which is far from people, for you to make the easiest cross border route?
TSOGWANE: I believe you are well versed with history of the two countries, Namibia and Botswana.
I am sure even [Carter] Hikuama would not agree with you on this one, but we know it is not an Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) stand but that of Botswana Congress Party (BCP), but he would not support you on this.
So Dr Never Tshabang put your hand down, this is not a UDC matter but BCP’s.
Answering your question, we could not have done this with South Africa yet because agreement has to be between parties who are ready to engage.
We are talking history and we know, Ovambanderu and Baherero have been staying in this country for many years and again Namibia has a sea port through which we can do trade.
We cannot rely on a single port, Durban and put all our eggs in one basket.
NEVER TSHABANG (Nkange MP): I am just wondering, since I come from near Zimbabwean border, which has a lot of movement, are you the ones who initiated this bilateral agreement or was it Namibia?
If it was you, what what’s special about Namibia and why didn’t you spread it to other parts of the country? If it is something that can be spread, what is the advantage of the Omang over the passport in these instances?
TSOGWANE: I will start with the last one.
Taking into account the rural masses, if you were to go and check, you will realise that a lot of people in the rural areas have Omang, but they do not have passports.
I know you want us to spread this to all borders but we have to start from somewhere.
As to who initiated this, I would not say it was us or Namibia, you have to know that Presidents share ideas.
WYNTER MMOLOTSI (Francistown South MP): These empty promises, don’t you realise they are tarnishing the dignity of our leadership and destroying the confidence that the people have in them?
What happened to the spirit of consultation which this country has over years built and is known for?
TSOGWANE: Nothing has gone wrong.
We are all here as politicians and parties, we all take pride in what we can imagine for the future of our country, the visions.
Even Alliance for Progressives (AP) and UDC, they all go out there and make promises of what they will like to do for the country if they are to take power – even him Saleshando has promises for his party.
I have never seen a party without promises, it will be the first time.