FRANCISTOWN: In an unexpected turn of events Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislators last week attacked each other in public space.
At the centre were Tati East Member of Parliament (MP) Samson Moyo Guma and Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang. Guma, who started the tirade in Parliament had ridiculed his senior party colleague, Kebonang, and called for his resignation.
This followed revelations that Kebonang benefitted from the P250 million National Petroleum Fund (NPF) that is the subject of a money laundering court case involving beleaguered asset manager, Bakang Seretse and two others.
“We have cases that are being handled by the prosecution but worried the ministers still consider it appropriate to sit down and stand before Parliament instead of resigning. I call on Sadique Kebonang to leave that ministry today,” Guma said. The minister later responded to Guma’s rant through a Facebook post, which he later deleted.
“He (Guma) behaves like this angel of high moral standards when he is far from that.”
“He is not a saint and he certainly is not a role model,” Kebonang, who is also Lobatse MP said, adding that Guma never lasted as deputy minister, nor as party chairperson.
“I have come to the conclusion that he is not mentally stable and is very foolish.”
Kebonang also said that Guma was once investigated for money laundering but he never resigned to clear his name.
It is not an understatement to think that in any political set up in order for one to call for the resignation of others deemed to have disrespected their office, his or her reputation as well as integrity should be above reproach.
To some extent Kebonang might be right to question Guma’s moral authority with reference to calls for his resignation. Here is why.
In 2015, Guma made an unexpected announcement that he will quit as Tati East MP before the end of his term. He even met various leaders in his constituency and informed them about his intentions to quit politics before his term comes to an end in 2019. Guma’s announcement to quit politics was also widely covered in the media.
Since then, the legislator has not shown any intention to call it quits. In fact, he recently resurfaced in the media declaring his desire to contest for another term as MP.
Guma has often refused to discuss his proposed resignation with Mmegi (after he initially made his intentions to resign public). In all occasions Mmegi had wanted to establish when Guma would make a commitment to resign, he rebuffed such efforts.
He said the matter is not of public importance although he made several interviews (that were made public) announcing his intention to quit political office. He was reminded that the matter is of public interest because his constituents have to know finer details surrounding his future, but he would not budge.
Under normal circumstances as a leader Guma should not have resorted to hostility. He could have offered an explanation regarding his (political) future, as he had already expressed desire to quit politics. As a leader it was also rational to avoid keeping his constituents in suspension mode. It could have afforded them an opportunity to think about his replacement. Then there was swelling speculation regarding Guma’s future.
Failure to address such simple matters does not portray the Tati East
It is not even far-fetched to think when he made an announcement to quit, Guma was playing a psychological game to pre-empt pressure from his constituents and his party colleagues.
This is because just before his pronouncement that he will quit politics, his business dealings were subjected to criminal investigations.
Even his company’s bank accounts were frozen pending the investigations. Then Guma and his business partner, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng, were alleged to have committed bribery and money laundering.
Such circumstances may also vindicate those who think that Guma lacks the moral authority to call for Kebonang’s resignation.
In addition, as a matter of principle, the legislator offered to resign from his parliamentary post to clear his name. Therefore an honourable politician would not only have offered to step down, but would have also done so.
It was not even the first time Guma threatened to resign from politics. In 2008, he threatened to quit active politics after he was dropped from Cabinet before he reneged on his decision. Guma also said that he will quit politics in 2014 but he would later change his stance.
When he announced his intentions to quit in 2015, Guma told Mmegi that he was quitting to focus on his assignment as a board member of the African Democracy Institute.
In another interview with the Sunday Standard newspaper Guma had said that he was quitting politics because he could no longer take part in the destruction of his own country.
It is safe to say that nothing much has changed in relation to how the BDP government runs the affairs of the country since 2015.
The BDP-led government is still riddled with many allegations of corruption and general abuse of office as well as public funds by key leaders and institutions. Many sectors of the economy such as education are on the decline.
It is reasonable to assume that if Guma was a man who sticks to principle and wants to maintain a clean image, he would have quit as MP rather than continue taking part in the ‘destruction of the country’ as he put it.
It also baffles one’s mind as to why Guma chose to target Kebonang when the latter’s superiors in President Ian Khama and Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi were alleged to have also benefited from the NPF money.
If Guma can conveniently shy away from mentioning Masisi in the same breath as Kebonang, he is not being sincere and honourable.
Some like the MP for Selebi-Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse have even suggested that Guma’s omission of Khama and Masisi was influenced by BDP factional battles instead of the interests of the nation. This week Guma refused to field any questions from Mmegi. “You can do the story without my assessment,” was his curt response.
Amongst key questions Mmegi has sought to establish if he did not think that he was being hypocritical by suggesting that Kebonang should quit when he did not quit when his businesses were subject to criminal investigation. This publication also wanted to know why Guma chose to omit the names of Khama and Masisi and solely targeted Kebonang.