MOCHUDI: Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president Gilson Saleshando has said that the upcoming 2009 general elections will be a referendum between military dictatorship or democracy.
Saleshando said the election will offer Batswana a chance to decide whether they want President Ian Khama's military rule or democracy as offered by the BCP. The BCP leader spoke when launching Philip Monowe on Saturday as the parliamentary candidate for Kgatleng West. Saleshando said that Batswana have to make the right choice when they go for this year's polls. He asserted that the ruling Botswana Democratic Pary (BDP) has lost its potency because a lot had changed ever since Khama took power.
He said that under Khama, the BDP has no respect for the rule of law and civil liberties are restricted. He stated that this could prove to be a major setback for Botswana's democracy. He said that Khama is obsessed with being loved by the people to a point of wasting taxpayer's money to buy a luxury caravan costing P1.8 million to tour the country.
Saleshando accused Khama of undermining democratic principles and wishing to introduce extreme Sharia-like laws. He took a swipe at the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) saying that it kills and tortures suspects.
He called on the police to prosecute DIS for the negligent shooting of a man in Maun during the Christmas period. He added that if DIS is not prosecuted, then the commissioner of police Thebeyame Tsimako should step down.
"Turn your back on military rule," he appealed to the many BCP supporters who dared the rain to witness the launch of Monowe. "This will also be a referendum on delivery," he added. He described Monowe as an educated man who had the political will and potential to represent the people of Kgatleng West when compared to the BDP's Isaac Davids and the
He called on the youth, human rights groups, christian organisations and workers to vote for the BCP as a step towards true democracy as opposed to Khama's dictatorship. He said Khama has turned BDP intellectuals in to his stooges. At the launch of Monowe, BCP secretary general Taolo Lucas launched an onslaught on educated citizens for their inactiveness in defending democracy. He said that academics and many young educated people are a great disappointment because they look down upon those without education.
He said that he was not calling on the educated to necessarily frolic with his party, but to defend democracy. He said ever since Khama took office as president, civil liberties are being threatened yet the average educated man is not concerned. Lucas said that Botswana's elite are self-centered and are only using their education to amass riches at the expense of ordinary citizens.
Lucas, who is a lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB), described most of his colleagues as 'thick scholars' who are easily swayed by food and money. He told the gathering that if the country sank into an economic crisis like Zambia, many of the country's educated elite will flee for greener pastures.
He urged the elite to defend democracy by punishing the BDP at the polls and speaking out against Khama's dictatorship. He urged Kgatleng West residents to vote for Monowe as he is a hard working man who is not looking for a job but has a desire to bring development to the constituency. He said that Monowe, also a UB lecturer, is one of the academics willing to sacrifice their interests to serve ordinary citizens.