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Main opposition leaders missing in Masisi's COVID-19 meeting

THALEFANG CHARLES
Presidents PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
President Mokgweetsi Masisi is this afternoon scheduled to meet with leaders of the opposition parties to discuss the fight aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, but leader of the main opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), will be missing in action.

According to the Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang, the Office of the President has invited heads of the four political parties that participated in the 2019 General Election. 

Leagajang said parties that managed to deliver invitations to their leaders are Alliance for the Progressives (AP), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). 

“We have Rre (Sydney) Pilane from BMD, (Gaontebale) Mokgosi from RAP, and (Wynter) Mmolotsi from AP who was delegated by party leader Ndaba Gaolathe. We have (Biggie) Butale from BPF. And all efforts to deliver the invitation to Rre Duma Boko (UDC) were futile,” Leagajang said. 

On Saturday Leader of the Opposition and UDC vice president Dumelang Saleshando released a statement via Facebook “setting the record straight” on how his invitation to the meeting was withdrawn. 

Saleshando said: “On Friday (first day of the lockdown) I was called by a senior officer in the Office of the

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President. I was told that the President would like to meet me alongside other leaders of opposition parties to brief us on the corona response by government. The meeting was planned for Monday morning and a proper invitation letter was to be dropped off or emailed. Less than an hour later, I was called and told that the invitation had been withdrawn because the party I lead (Botswana Congress Party) did not contest in the 2019 general election.”

When asked why the Office of President could not reach out to Saleshando, since they could not get a hold of Boko, Leagajang said they did. Saleshando flatly denied this saying, “They didn’t call back”.

The meeting, which according to OP is “to update and consult opposition leaders on COVID-19”.  Apparently the State of Emergency is not on the agenda.

The meeting is expected to be followed by a press briefing at 3pm.



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