A leading member of the Botswana Democratic Party who twice contested the party’s primary elections in the Chobe constituency has resigned to join the Umbrella for Democratic Change. Upon his resignation, Robert Masene has labelled President Ian Khama the worst President that Botswana has had ever.
A Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Science at the University of Botswana Dr Masene said turning his back on the BDP was not an easy decision for him. He said it is now clear that the UDC is the party of the future. He said he started subscribing to the BDP ideals when he was 14 years, until when he submitted his resignation last week Thursday. He concedes that for the BDP things started to deteriorate long before Ian Khama became President, but adds that under Khama the situation is now beyond redemption. “I had hoped that Khama was a man who was going to exert morality on the BDP government. To my surprise he is the worst President that this country has ever had. I am judging him relative to those who have been there. He is intolerant. When you start doing things that Khama is doing right now it tells that something is wrong with you,” he said Masene describes Khama as somebody who wants to rule by instilling fear onto others, a man who is capable of manipulating intelligent minds and turn them into what he wants. He describes the BDP as irrelevant.
“The BDP has run its course. To me the BDP is irrelevant when it comes to the needs of the people of this country. I felt it was time for me to move on because if you are with the BDP it seems more like you are endorsing the bad things the BDP is doing to the people of this country. I felt that I shouldn’t be part of those people who are endorsing what the BDP is doing,” he said. He continued that an internal democracy has long died inside the BDP. “To them, democracy is something that is on paper. Practically it does not exist within the BDP. You cannot be democratic when you can’t tolerate others.
This had made me to realise that there is no need for me to be part of the BDP,” he said. A teacher by profession Masene said Botswana’s education system is on the verge of collapse. “I value education. The backbone of any economy is education. That is where you graduate man and women who feed your economy but if we look at our education system it is on the verge of collapse and nobody seems to care. The education system has been left to the dogs, a lot of pupils fail and they are relegated into the drains, nobody cares. This government only cares for the people who subscribe to it, who are within it,” he said highlighting that there is a need to invest in the education system. He said a lot needs to be done if Botswana is going to compete globally.
“I believe at the moment opposition is the only way to go. BDP will never take us anywhere,” he emphasized. Masene acknowledged that it was not an easy thing to move from one political party to another. “I am joining the Umbrella for Democratic Change. If you look what the UDC stands for, its one party that can take this country somewhere. People in the UDC are people that I know, people who are tolerant,” he said. Masene favours of opposition coalition. “I am for the opposition coalition. Had the opposition coalition worked in the past the BDP wouldn’t be in power today. I still believe that opposition parties need each other, without that it is not going to be easy for the opposition parties to take over,” he said.
He said even when he was with the BDP, he realised that things were going wrong within the BDP. He said he was always speaking with the UDC leadership advising them that the only way to oust the BDP was through opposition coalition. “What is being said by the Botswana Congress Party about cooperating in a form of voting other opposition parties where they are not contesting can never be a solution, because there are constituencies where the opposition will be contesting against each other and that is where the problem will come from. They will have to prove to the voters who are the best among themselves.
When that happens they tarnish each other’s image,” he said. For now Masene is just an ordinary member of the UDC. “I will carry out any task I am required to do as long as I am able to split my party assignments with my work. I am very much prepared for the UDC because I can tell you that the only hope that we have now for change is through the opposition. I am of the view that the UDC can lead this country to that change,” he said. Masene contested BDP primaries twice in Chobe and lost in both instances. He contested last year and in 2008.