That President Ian Khama and his deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi allegedly benefited from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) only seems to have given the opposition ammunition to attack the BDP on the journey to the make or break 2019 general election. Mmegi Staff Writer LEBOGANG MOSIKARE observes
FRANCISTOWN: The President and Vice President have not been charged with any criminal offence in relation to the NPF controversy and have since issued public statements denouncing that they have benefited from the NPF in any way.
In politics, perceptions whether right or wrong matter a lot, especially scandals implicating people holding high positions in statecraft and it is not surprising that opponents of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) are using the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) issue as political bait to attract voters to their fold.
History teaches us that voters are a complicated lot who may be influenced by mere propaganda to vote in a certain way.
It then came as no surprise recently when Umbrella for Democracy (UDC) MP Dithapelo Keorapetse exploited the issue during a political rally at Ralekgetho village where an impending by-election will be held on Saturday to replace a BDP councillor who passed away a few months back.
Keorapetse called for the heads of politicians who allegedly benefited from NPF money to roll over the issue notwithstanding their positions in society.
The NPF issue also trended in various social media platforms where the two BDP leaders were found guilty by the court of public opinion despite the fact that Khama and Masisi have not been charged with any offence in relation to the funds.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has also threatened to take Khama and all those it feels should be charged over the NPF controversy to court.
In the past the BCP and Botswana National Front (BNF) leaders have
The NPF firestorm has clearly buoyed the opposition leaders who are presenting themselves as politicians with probity before the public eye going to the crunch 2019 general election.
A political science lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB) Dr Kebapetse Lotshwao opines that any issue of corruption implicating people in the high echelons of power is an obvious shame.
Lotshwao said for the past 10 years there was no political will to fight corruption in the country.
He cited an issue involving the director general of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) who has not been prosecuted despite having allegedly committed some criminal offences.
Lotshwao said the NPF controversy can influence the way electorates will vote in the 2019 plebiscite albeit with little impact because even some opposition leaders are also alleged to have personally benefited from the NPF money although their names have not been mentioned in court.
He noted that taking into consideration that the opposition is currently fragmented and disorganised, voters might still decide to vote for the BDP even if its leaders are implicated in the NPF saga.
Lotshwao added that taking into consideration how the opposition Members of Parliament debated the issue recently in Parliament as a divided lot and not as a bloc, they missed the opportunity to further exploit the issue for political gain, noting that having done so could have attracted a lot of goodwill to their side from the electorates.