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From Khamarite to critic

Dr Margaret Nasha knew a day before the elections of the position of the Speaker of the National Assembly that her bid was a mere formality.

All the lobbying that she had done would amount to nothing. The democrats in Parliament that had promised her their votes were not responding to her calls.

Even those that had moved mountains on her behalf had switched their allegiance. The more polite ones boldly told her that they underwent pressure and intimidation not to vote for her. Her bid was so hopeless that some of her sponsors approached her on Tuesday to withdraw from the contest. The odds were clearly against her.

Being Nasha she stubbornly refused and stood by her principles against the odds. As expected her rival, former Botswana Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Gladys Kokorwe, humbled her.

Kokorwe garnered 41 votes while she managed 21 votes. Out of this number, it was clear that there was a black sheep within the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Members of Parliament (MPs) that stood with Nasha.

The other 20 votes came from the combined opposition parties in the house. And the Iron Lady is grateful for that principled democrat, she told a well-attended press conference yesterday morning at Gaborone Sun.

After her loss, nobody from the party was there to console her. Apparently, a former Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Member of Parliament for Mochudi East, Isaac Mabiletsa, and Nasha’s son, Thabiso, escorted the humiliated Nasha to a car outside Parliament.

So much for the distinguished woman who served this country loyally for decades! That is Botswana politics for you. Like what President Ian Khama likes to say, politics is a dirty game. Nasha can show the world the fresh wounds from the battering she got for standing up to Khama.

Her only sin was to fight to keep Parliament free from intimidation and the grasp of the Executive, who during the 10th Parliament, have shown resentment to the philosophy of the independence of Parliament, viewing it as obstructive and interfering with their mandate.

In her own words, Nasha is of the view that it is the duty of Parliament to hold the Executive to account; and Botswana’s Parliament should not be an exception to this rule.

One may also trace the enmity of Khama and Nasha to the publication of the latter’s memoirs earlier this year. Madam Speaker, Sir! is the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

It is well documented that Nasha supported Khama for the BDP chairmanship at the 2005 national elective congress in Serowe. It was during that congress that Nasha

stood against long time ally, Daniel Kwelagobe for the secretary general position of the party.

She was now an influential member of the so-called A-Team, which was pitted against Kwelagobe’s Barataphathi faction. Although she lost against the former BDP strongman affectionately known as ‘DK’, she did not lose support of the other influential members of the A-Team such as President Festus Mogae.

After the general elections in 2004, Mogae brought her to Parliament through the backdoor as a Special Elected Member of Parliament. She had lost general elections at Gaborone Central against the new-kid-on-the-block, Dumelang Saleshando of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

She resumed her duties as the Minister of Local Government, Lands and Housing until the 2009 general elections. Because of her relationship with Khama, she was brought back to the National Assembly as the Speaker, unopposed.

The BDP under the leadership of Khama was often accused in the media for its seemingly dictatorial tendencies. In her memoirs she wrote: “I think therefore, it would be fair to say that a sizeable number of Madomkrag have been left disillusioned about President Ian Khama’s leadership of the BDP.

“The troubling thing is that they will not talk openly about it. They just simply won’t. Instead they prefer to talk about their frustrations and disagreements with the status quo in private.  Behind closed doors, so to speak.

“In short, they prefer to gossip instead of talk in BDP forums about their concerns, with a view to correcting what they believe is wrong in the party - and that is a serious cause for concern.”

This did not go well with Khama who used the floor of the Special Congress earlier this year to indirectly attack Nasha and her book. The battle lines were drawn and since Nasha had made her intention known to serve a second term, Kokorwe was recruited to replace her. She therefore quit her post as Botswana’s emissary to Zimbabwe.

As they say the rest is history. Nasha has joined the masses of the unemployed ranks and is no longer a Khamarite.

“I believe I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race.

It became very clear two days ago, that I was going to lose the contest. I believe that as an individual you must stand up for what is right even if you stand with no one by your side,” Nasha philosophised during her press conference.




The Return of the Gladiator

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