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In a tell it all interview with The Telegraph, Kenny Kapinga who is a devout member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and private practicing lawyer in Shakawe sternly warned Batswana against voting the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) into government in the upcoming 2019 general election because the party which has been in power since 1966 at independence has absolutely nothing new to offer, save to simply hold onto power because the party feels it is entitled to govern.
He said Batswana should learn from their neighbours up north and not keep a government in power just because they are afraid of change. “Otherwise we will end up where our neighbours are. They are not stupid to be where they are. They allowed themselves to be held captive by a political party which was now focused on its own survival and not the national interest. The BDP is desperate to hold on to power, not because it has anything new to offer, but just because they feel entitled to govern. If Batswana vote BDP back to power, they will get the government they deserve. One that is characterized by corruption, patronage, nepotism, economic decline and general bad governance. It is up to them to vote wisely in the coming elections,” he warned.
Kapinga confirmed that he has since joined the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP), a contracting member of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and had been given the green light to contest the upcoming 2019 general election in the Okavango constituency unopposed in the primaries.
Asked if his invitation to speak at the unveiling ceremony of the late Kavindama’s tombstone immediately after quitting the civil service was not a clear cut gesture by BCP to join it since the Okavango MP Bagalatia Arone had defected to the ruling BDP, Kapinga said he does not believe so, explaining that his invitation to speak at the ceremony was not based on potential membership.
“At the time I had drawn the line on the sand in disapproval of the delinquent Ian Khama administration, but I had not decided to join the BCP or any other opposition party”, said Kapinga, who quit the civil service unceremoniously as he felt betrayed and seriously disrespected when he was redeployed from the Botswana Police Service where he was deputy police commissioner.
He avers that his redeployment to the diplomatic service was done malevolently. “I felt betrayed and seriously disrespected. I drew an unequivocal conclusion then that we now had a rogue government in place with its collaborators. I had selflessly served and developed the police service only to get this kind of thank you. I am grateful that with the passage of time, Batswana have seen that the decision was motivated by bad faith and poor governance”, said the former deputy police commissioner adding that he is still aggrieved because there is nothing in the open to suggest that his redeployment from the police service to diplomatic service was a “just decision”.
Kapinga explained that he was victimized because he was not willing to be anybody’s tool. “I made myself clear that in the execution of my duty, my loyalty was to the Constitution and the law of the country and not an individual or party. I was very clear against politicization of the Police Service”, he said adding that there is no valuable experience he gained from the diplomatic service because the police had trained and sharpened him so much that he found the foreign service to be “light duty”, a factor that eventually prompted his resignation.
Having been in opposition political trenches since 2016 following his resignation from the civil service, Kapinga who has opened his own law office in Shakawe said he is optimistic that there can be regime change in 2019.
The lawyer cum politician said he has no doubt that the majority of the voting public have lost confidence in the BDP although the only thing that creates some measure of doubt in the voters is the apparent disunity in the opposition alliance.
“I have personal experience that opposition alliances are never smooth sailing. Some people join opposition politics because they see the prize is near, but don’t necessarily believe in the need for a change of government. Others are simply agents of the ruling party sent to cause disruption in the opposition ranks. Therefore the electorate should not expect a smooth flowing opposition. What is important to remember is that we have a government in place characterized by corruption, patronage, appointments to top offices based on place of origin and generally bad governance ethos. We have a ruling party that has run down the economy and has now resorted to looting of special funds such as pension funds and the National Petroleum Fund. Therefore the need to remove the BDP remains in place”, emphasized the new kid on the political block.
Kapinga implores the new regime in 2019 to focus on economic regeneration by redirecting budgetary resources from wasteful pursuits such as military jets and superfluous expenditure on security, except the Botswana Police Service.
His conviction is that Botswana should open up for investment since the country was a closed nation in the past 10 years and lost out heavily on foreign direct investment. Creation of jobs should top the country’s economic development planning agenda coupled with institutionalization of good governance. A thriving economy should be the bedrock for everything else; quality health service, quality infrastructure and jobs.
On the issue of political funding, Kapinga said it is very important especially in a small economy such as Botswana. Currently, business people refuse to fund opposition parties because they are afraid of compromising their businesses which are heavily dependent on state procurement.
“Very often, ruling parties couch the policy such that it places them at a disproportionate advantage over opposition parties, thus exacerbating the resource imbalance”, said Okavango parliamentary hopeful.
He further implores government to demonstrate some political will on the issue of promoting and preserving what is generally regarded as minority languages including the preservation of the so-called minority language groupings’ cultures.
His view is that the easiest first step would be to introduce those languages on national radio. Each language could be given at least four hours a week. This would gradually abate the uneasiness in some people’s minds. With the passage of time, the languages may then be introduced into school syllabi.
If elected to parliament, what will be top of Kapinga’s agenda? He answers that if elected to parliament, he will focus on legislation that guarantees checks on presidential powers. First on his list would be introduction of public hearings for top officials such as Judges and Ambassadors and heads of critical departments such as Police, DIS, Auditor General, IEC, Ombudsman and others.
“I will also advocate for the empowerment of Parliament so that it can discharge its oversight responsibility effectively. I will also advocate for the revision of Presidential immunity. We have seen how it encouraged disrespect for the rule of law in the last regime”, said Kapinga.
The parliamentary hopeful also observed that the nation has not welcomed the electronic voting machines (EVMs). Government cannot shove the EVMs down the throats of voters. There are other reforms which can be introduced to speed up the release of results such as counting ballots at the polling station and then collating them at the ward, constituency and national level. “There are good reasons to believe that the ruling party intends to rig elections through the use of EVMs”, said Kapinga emphatically.
On the appointment of judges, Kapinga said when he was in law school, he was told that judges are selected from among the best in the legal fraternity. Unbelievably the reality he has come to learn is that mostly connections matter.
“We have seen some very mediocre, unknown individuals being appointed judges and this has really adulterated the quality of our judiciary. In the future proceedings of the Judicial Service Commission should be open and the President should choose only those candidates recommended, not his lackeys,” said the lawyer-cum-politician.
Although Kapinga was keen to discuss national issues, he is alive to the needs of his constituents because ultimately they are the ones he will be pinning his hopes on to elect him to parliament. To this end he said he believes in the transformative power of education bemoaning that that educational institutions in his constituency are dilapidated and not conducive to learning.