When the ruling Botswana Democratic party (BDP) parliamentary caucus purports to speak with one voice, Francistown West legislator and maverick politician Ignatius Moswaane has always been the odd one out. Mmegi Staff Writers RYDER GABATHUSE & CHAKALISA DUBE reflect on the fearless MP’s care-free character that has always brought him face-to-face with his party leadership as President Mokgweetsi Masisi suspends him for 60 days from the party this week
FRANCISTOWN: Brave and/or defiant, Moswaane is not your typical conformist who simply tows the line of his political principals, or acquiesce to party rules just because he has to.
He has become a staunch critic of the President Masisi-led Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government construing the current administration as failing its people.
Moswaane has a penchant for questioning authority to the extent of incessantly remaining defiant when least expected.
He has been a fearless character that has often times taken his party to task for the sake of speaking for his constituents.
Though he has always rubbed his party leadership the wrong way, he has always escaped the wrath of its disciplinary machinery. Not this time around.
In his own words, Moswaane is a representative of the people and therefore, “I serve them with aplomb without any fear or favour, no matter how hurting it could be.” These were his words before the brave MP was slapped with a letter of suspension on Wednesday this week.
There is a strong feeling within BDP circles that Moswaane could be on his way out of the ruling party and possibly joining Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) as alleged, a charge that Moswaane has vehemently denied.
In the past, Moswaane had campaigned for the Monarch South ward as an independent council candidate and won after he was excluded by the party’s primary election system, Bulela Ditswe, in a controversial re-run that awarded his then rival, Baboni Mosalagae, the ‘undeserving’ win.
He would later rejoin the party of his own volition.
Many a times, he found himself crossing swords with his party leadership over this and that, but the free speaking politician is always unperturbed by the troubles he brings unto himself.
During former president Ian Khama’s tenure, Moswaane was amongst the party’s alleged troublemakers. He remained on Khama’s radar until the former president’s time as party leader elapsed.
During preparations for the last general election, Moswaane’s launch as a parliamentary candidate was delayed after Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitary Services, Kefentse Mzwinila had reported him to the party leadership.
Moswaane’s offence at the time, as the chairperson of the parliamentary finance and estimates sub-committee, had precipitated the blocking of the water ministry’s supplementary funding Bill for the project on the grounds that it was unnecessary, lacked urgency and involved a waste of public funds.
This relates to the controversial P900 million Masama-Mmamashia 100km pipeline water tender. The Moswaane-led committee would reject the multi-million project claiming corruption and other ‘hidden agenda’.
The Masisi-led administration, however, pressed for the approval of the water project, when Parliament re-convened after the 2019 General Election, and Parliament duly approved funding for the project recently.
During the (COVID-19) coronavirus-induced lockdown Moswaane’s voice became more audible, vociferously advocating for the poor in his constituency to be given food rations.
He even petitioned his own government calling for a second round of food rations arguing that the COVID-19 lockdown had crippled the poor members of his constituency. He has been writing petitions to President Masisi, calling for the latter’s office to intervene in his demands for the improved welfare of the poor members of the society.
Moswaane has been bashing the Masisi-led government for its failures to be people-centric.
Just last Sunday, Moswaane circulated an amateurish video clip in which the tirade and bashing of the Masisi-led administration continued unabated. This time around, he called for an unequivocal end to corrupt practice, which he claims is embedded in the society.
“Botswana is poor mainly due to unending corruption,” said Moswaane, who in the clip even wished God could hear his prayer and end corruption.
He said corruption in Botswana was akin to witchcraft insisting that it can’t take Batswana anywhere.
In his scathing attack of the BDP-led government, Moswaane said tenders of works are awarded before the actual awarding of tenders.
He was worried that Botswana as a nation was growing very old without any sign that the country’s economy was getting anywhere better.
He was worried that at a time when Botswana had 54 years of independence, there was nothing to show for the independence, “as misery is growing as if Botswana is yet to attain her independence”.
He called upon the country’s leadership collective to take things seriously
“At the workplaces, there are people who don’t like corruption, but they can’t talk or act against it, because they fear of being demoted at work.”
As if he was specifically addressing someone, he asked: “Why should you make people fear you? Who the hell do you think you are?”
Moswaane called upon the government to give Batswana what belongs to them and prevent the suffering of the people. From the video clip, Moswaaane emphasised that he was now tired of the corruption in our society as it benefitted just a few people at the expense of the majority that is wallowing in abject poverty.
“Cabinet ministers are happy when Batswana are dying of hunger? This system under the ruling BDP has excluded a majority of the people and condemned them to the fringes when just a minority is gratified by the proceeds of corruption,” he charged.
Moswaane’s petition letters and videos have been receiving raving reviews from some of his followers. From one of his fan groups, one wrote: “...Ha re ipecheditse ko Francistown West (Moswaane is our best choice.)”
But, another of Moswaane’s many fans questioned his logic: “ Honourable Moswaane, if I recall well, you are part of the system you are pointing a finger at. We need answers not problems. Do the honourable thing, get your house in order before you come out to the public.”
This week accounting for his actions, Moswaane explained that he is an elected legislator whose responsibility is to make laws and to provide oversight to the Executive.
“I am only doing what I am doing because we seem to have left the Executive to run government for six months under the State of Emergency,” Moswaane said hours before his suspension from the party, indicating that when he does not get his responses he goes straight to the people and takes pertinent issues to them.
“I have launched a campaign against corruption and poverty as I have realised that our national campaign against corruption dubbed zero-tolerance for corruption is now no more.”
He stressed that there was a need to combat legal and institutionalised corruption, which he claims seems to be protected by the government systems.
To him, MPs have to live up to the expectations of the people who have elected them and act without any fear or favour and play their oversight role.
The Francistown region chairperson, Baemedi Medupi did not have kind words for the ‘errant’ legislator. Medupi said that the region is deeply infuriated by Moswaane’s penchant for constantly speaking against the ruling party.
“I do not know what it is that Moswaane is trying to achieve by speaking against the party in the media. As a legislator, he is empowered to address all the issues he has with the relevant ministers or government officials. His responsibility is to provide solutions meant to better the lives of his electorates and Batswana in general,” Medupe told Mmegi.
He added: “He needs total deliverance. It is time for him to leave the party voluntarily because from his posture it is clear that he is no longer a BDP member at heart.”
In Moswaane’s suspension letter this week, President Masisi has chronicled the legislator’s social media posts as what broke the camel’s back.
Masisi took issue with Moswaane, “for castigating the Ministry of local Government and Rural Development for their perceived failures”.
Moswaane’s offences against the party rules and regulations and the general code of conduct includes inter alia:
. Behaving in a grossly disorderly and unruly manner that might put the party name into disrepute contrary to general code of conduct number 5
. Behaving in a manner calculated to bring the party name into disrepute contrary to general code of conduct of the party number 11
. Using parliamentary or council positions and privileges to attack the party and/or its government contrary to general code of conduct number 14 The President has therefore, suspended Moswaane for 60 days pending investigation into the allegations that he faces and the subsequent disciplinary hearing.
Typical of Moswaane, he has defiantly posted on his Facebook account wall the internal party communication, going against the presidential directive not to share it with third parties.