Masisi: master of double speak or astute leader?


When it comes to contradictions or being an astute leader, the public is divided on President Mokgweetsi Masisi regarding the issue.

Some believe that Masisi is the undisputed king of double-speak while others are of the view that he is the master of political gamesmanship and intrigue.

Forget about him denying during the presidential debates prior to October 23, 2019 general elections that he ever said he was a lelope (bootlicker), that sounds like stale news. There are several examples that the President has mastered the art of doubling speak in his political career.

For instance, when responding to former president Ian Khama that the State has made false and “deliberately and maliciously fabricated” corruption allegations to tarnish his name, Masisi invited Khama to sue. Khama promised to sue an investigator for defamation after he implicated him (Khama) in a corruption scandal, accusing him of syphoning-off money to fund terrorism during his 10-year reign.

Masisi also did not take kindly to Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) decision to challenge the outcome of the October 23, 2019 general elections in Court. He accused the UDC of disparaging conduct, condescending and extreme patronising attitude. Masisi went further to accuse the opposition and Khama of causing instability in the country on the basis of false imaginations.

Below is verbatim reproduction of statements made by Masisi speaking on same subject saying different things to different audience. You, the reader be the judge.

President Masisi responding to former president Ian Khama’s statement during a press conference on December 10, 2019:

“Everybody is entitled to a view. I hold that dearly and sacrosanct to our peaceful co-existence. I have pledged as I still do and repeat my commitment to adherence to the rule of law. There is nothing I can do. There is nothing I can do when an investigation goes a particular direction. There is nothing I desire to. There is nothing I desire to do if prosecution takes a particular direction.

“Every single citizen in this country is perceived to be innocent until proven guilty. Now because of our freedoms, even you are at liberty to talk about dramatic adjectives how we might crash land whatever, it doesn’t matter, the issues are before the court and they have to deal with them. It is true the issues have come before us have dented our image but we have to answer the question, should we be because we are afraid our image to be dented sweep those under the carpet? I say finally, finally the truth will emerge and everybody who feels injured by the process, injured by allegations, the courts of law are open to anyone to seek redress. That also goes to government, it goes to anybody. We live in a civilised orderly world. Botswana has not changed not one bit. We are where we are because we chose to be where we are.  I am not intimidated by any of these grandstanding statements.”


Masisi on rigging allegations

“What is at test is the integrity of our governance. It is not longer Mokgweetsi Masisi. It is no longer the BDP. It is the integrity of our governance. It is the integrity of our institutions. It is also a questioning, a disparaging questions particularly those external aided and abetted by all those internal. Whatever they feel injured by the outcome of elections to also be disparaging not only to the institutions but also to the people of Botswana. It is the most debilitating expression of disparaging conduct. Condescending, extreme patronising, it goes further than that. It is questioning of our integrity as a sovereign nation state because we have our laws that govern us and starting with the basic law because these elections were not only conducted on the basis of the Electoral Act, they were also conducted on the basis of the requirements of that we have always used. And this time, you must ask yourself, why this time? Where did we get this creativity of discovering the flaws in a Constitution that has not be altered? We do we get that incredible ridiculousness of questioning the legitimacy of our electoral law that has not been altered since the last elections and the IEC [Independent Electoral Commission] has not been altered. You must also remember that we had put in place a law that should have allowed you to use the Electronic Voting Machine [EVM] to vote. Guess who put brakes to it? And guess what for? The very same protagonists who are at the centre of either promoting the EVM and the reasons, if you recall what they were including the other protagonists who are the centre of total want of the EVM and a sudden summersault to disdain of the EVM. Strange bedfellows. Paradoxical. This tension elicits interesting outcomes. Isn’t it curious that you also need to travel to a neighbouring country with whom we have diplomatic relations and seek to steer and want to cause instability on the basis of imaginations that have been very difficult to evidence even on the basis of forensic capacities by some?”

Masisi in an interview with CNBC International at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 21, 2020, addressing the same issue of opposition UDC challenging the results of the October 2019 general elections said something else by denying any instability brought by electoral petitions:

“I wish you were from Botswana like which you speak of is really caricaturing Botswana as if there was instability. For us it is totally normal. We have always been addicts of the rule of law. So for every citizen if you have a challenge, you have dispute, you go to Courts of law for the issue to be settled. So when the matters are before the Courts life goes on. Before I left home I went through the budget speech as I was coming, we have drawn out our budget. We are ready, we will continue to serve our people in the country and if the Court pronounces in anywhere whatsoever we will abide by that ruling if they want us to go for by-election or re-election we will do it. There is no anxiety, there is no political instability. There is nothing abnormal in Botswana. It is just the way we do business.”

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