President Mokgweetsi Masisi will not attend Presidential debates scheduled on October 11 at Westwood International Auditorium.
The debate, organised by Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisation (BOCONGO) for Presidential candidates is meant for each party to make a commitment on how they could change the lives of Batswana.
Presidential debates were expected to be attended by Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) president, Biggie Butale, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president, Duma Boko and Alliance for Progressives (AP) president, Ndaba Gaolathe and Masisi of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
A letter written to BOCONGO by BDP executive secretary Ame Makoba reads, “Kindly be informed that the His Excellence the President of the Republic of Botswana whom in this instance you invited as President of Botswana Democratic Party shall not be participating in the debate scheduled for 11th October 2019.
His Excellency the President has pre-arranged government business that he will be undertaking”. In one of the videos in June this year ,Masisi told his supporters that he was ready for a presidential debate with opposition leaders when launching one of his candidate.
“Party tsa kganetso ka tsamaiso ya tsone le megopolo ya tsone ba bokowa. Ke ba batla gore basimane bale!” Masisi exclaimed.
BOCONGO said the overall objective of the debate was to create a platform for discussion with presidential representatives under the theme: “The future for Botswana-our offer”.
It is not the first time that a BDP President failed to honour Presidential debates. A similar incident happened that the BDP towards the 2014 general elections under the leadership of the then President Ian Khama who failed to honour the Gabz FM organised presidential elections debate.
The UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa said their main opponent is the BDP.
“We do not see the need to attend if BDP president is not attending. BDP is the one in power and is the one that had made Batswana to be poor.
Honestly, why should opposition parties debate amongst themselves? The whole purpose of the debate has died”. BPF president Butale said he does not see the need to attend if other parties have pulled out.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) elections spokesperson, Boniface Mabeo said in a statement that the indication that Masisi will not participate in today’s first presidential debate does not augur well for building a culture of public discourse.
The decision is communicated rather late in the day, citing prior engagements arrangements, which arrangements his office could have known when the invitation was issued more than three weeks ago. It is therefore our view that the BDP is not prepared for the debate,” Mabeo said.
In conclusion he said they were looking forward to seeing Masisi next week Wednesday when Radio Botswana and Botswana Television hold the second presidential debate.