SELEBI-PHIKWE: Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president, Dumelang Saleshando has said that whoever is against his party being under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) must ‘drink water to cool down’.
Speaking at a rally on Sunday, Saleshando said upon his party signing agreements to be a member of the UDC, they told whoever has a problem with the decision to forever maintain their silence.
“The marriage is intact and the outcome is visible as evidenced by the results of the by-elections that had been held. So whoever is against this union must go and join the ruling party and whoever perceives that BCP is not a UDC member, must know that we are going to contest the general elections under the umbrella,” he said.
He dismissed allegations of BCL Mine reopening saying that the complex operation cannot just open like a tuck shop.
In fact, he said even the closure was not supposed to be abrupt, but there are processes that needed to be carried out that required a significant length of time.
“The closure of the mine was irresponsible and has proven that the ruling party is mediocre when it comes to approaching national economic issues. President Mokgweetsi Masisi has driven a knife into the heart of the mine that supported the regional economy,” he said.
He was happy that finally the ruling government has come to its senses to do away with the electronic voting machine that amounts to vote-rigging.
He said they fought as the opposition to have the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) abolished even in the courts of law and eventually government has acceded.
“Now let us go and vote,” he said.
Saleshando said Botswana generally is ailing as he shot down the decision by government to request for a loan from China for infrastructural development.
He said acquiring a loan is not a solution and government must first explain where the country’s foreign reserves have gone to and what happened to the National Petroleum Fund in which, he alleged, Masisi was implicated.
Botswana National Front (BNF) secretary general, Moeti Mohwasa had earlier said that whoever argues that BCP is not a member of the umbrella must not be taken seriously and said BCP was arbitrator following the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) saga in Bobonong and has been part of the technical team in all the negotiations amongst the member parties. He said the UDC is determined to be the ruling government of the day and this calls for everyone to go and vote because the decision requires a significant number to make.
Mohwasa also pleaded for unity within the UDC and warned that
“We need to be selfless and rescue the country from the mess created by the ruling party,” he said.
Selebi-Phikwe West legislator Dithapelo Keorapetse said the fact that he and Mohwasa are jointly addressing a rally yet they contested against each other in the last general elections signifies unity between UDC and BCP.
He explained that they learnt a lot from the outcomes out of the fact that they were not united for the 2014 general elections, which accorded the ruling party smooth sailing.
He said they also realised that they could have easily won many constituencies if they cooperated as the opposition.
“The BCP, hence made a decision to join the umbrella. Whoever is not under the umbrella must be severely punished by being denied votes,” he said. Keorapetse said he is often accused of politicising the BCL matter, but said there is no way the issue can be divorced from politics because it was a political decision by a Cabinet of politicians, therefore it would remain a political issue.
He said they still demand that the Mine be reopened because there was no valid reason to warrant its closure, as all what government was asked to do was to improve the Mine’s safety measures.
He called for a commission of inquiry, either a judicial commission or a Cabinet committee, to look into the BCL matter.
“Masisi came in person to promise ex-miners a soft landing and 12 to 18 months’ salaries.
In the same vein, we expect him to come and deliver on his promises, apologise and state the date of the mine reopening,” he said.
BCP national organising secretary, Vain Mamela said it was unfortunate that some people, even within the opposition ranks want to believe that Masisi is bringing something better by introducing some reforms.
Mamela said Masisi is not new in the ruling party, therefore there is no way he could distance himself from the mess that happened during predecessor, Ian Khama’s administration.
“He was the Vice President and leadership is collective. There is no way he can try to look smart and exonerate himself from the whole thing,” he said. Mamela added that Masisi must know that he is equally responsible and said introducing some reforms is just political cosmetics and gimmicks because all forms of corruption, like the BCL closure and BMC closure happened under his leadership when he was the VP.