Vice President (VP) Mokgweetsi Masisi says he initially did not intend to stand for the chairmanship of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which he won at the recent Mmadinare congress.
Masisi says it was the political under-currents, the muted challenge to his standing as both the Vice President and future head of state that triggered him into action to prove to all that he is no weakling.
“There was muted challenge that I’m not fit and proper to be the Vice President and the president of the country, and this (chairmanship), could be used to my challenge. I accepted to defend my integrity as the Vice President. Chickening out (of the race), would have let everybody think I’m a weak Vice President. So I took the challenge to prove I’m willing and ready, and any challenge, I will deal with. My focus was to rebuff any attempts to categorise me as weak,” he said.
‘Friends In The Opposition Also Sponsored Me’
The VP was cagey with details of who bankrolled his seemingly expensive and stylish campaign for the chairmanship of the BDP.
Masisi’s camp, with 1,500 tents and two beds inside, as well as blankets, was outstanding. It had a resident DJ, free alcohol, and its residents ate three meals a day.
In fact, while its admirers dubbed it ‘Camp Dubai’, thanks to its fancy style its critics gave it another name, ‘Camp Guantánamo Bay’ to suggest that it is where their delegates were held. Masisi, however, says the camp, located at a farm called Matheankwe, was just plain simple. He said: “Some people even called it a refugee camp because of the tents. It did cost money, and I didn’t do it all. There was a whole lot of goodwill offered by people of diverse backgrounds, even in the opposition.”
“It was not put up by government, you must note that, because when it was reported in the media it gave the readers the impression that it was government funded. I never used government resources on my campaigns, even for hotels and travels
“But I did not bar people from coming at the camp site. I allowed the various candidates for the various positions to come to my marquee tent and lobby for support; they all came to sell themselves; the chairman candidates were not allowed ofcourse”.
On Six Chairmanship Candidates
“I did not read malice into it, I read a lot of goodwill. that there are democrats out there who want and are willing to stand. I think it exposed a lot for good capable people to the party, it is good for the party. It does not matter how many are contesting, at the end there will be one winner. I kind of encourage it. I would love another lots of people in 2017, it is good, it spreads areas of focus, it is not divisive, multiplicity is much better for stability.
“It was a clean campaign. My opponents would come to me to ask for my vote, I would also approach Ndelu, Tebelelo, asking for their votes. I treated my opponents with respect and worked very hard, my campaign was vigorous, but I was not arrogant as you guys sometimes reported. Arrogance in Botswana? Arrogance in Botswana make you lose.”
On winning over the North
For me the North-South thing was never an issue. Actually on the ground it does not exist, the Dibete fence was not put up there to divide people, it is for animal disease control. The idea that I did not have support in the North because I came from the South is a fallacy, it is dangerous, and totally absured. BDP does not operate along those categorisations, there is no North or South, look in my constituency where I stood for elections, three of my opponents originate in the North…”
“We haven’t seen each other. He came late when we were presented,” said Masisi.
On differences with the private media
“Perception goes both ways. We will do both ways. My concern is professionalism, that’s all. There are things we can talk about.”
The selfie chairman
“In today’s age, you take selfies, when you want to win. I do what it will take to talk to people, the doors are opened with that strategy are just amazing. My social media pages wont stop.”