The leader of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Dumelang Saleshando on Monday declined to say whether or not he has accepted an apology rendered to him by President Ian Khama.
This is after Saleshando could not speak at the funeral of the leader of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Vice President Gomolemo Motswaledi’s funeral.
Saleshando told The Telegraph that he is not in a position to comment on anything concerning Motswaledi’s funeral.
“I think there has been too much controversy around the matter and it is not fair for the family. At what point are they going to mourn? I do not think I want to get involved in a running commentary. We have buried Motswaledi, whatever happened has happened,” he said.
President Khama has since apologised to the BCP leader over UDC youth’s alleged threats that saw Saleshando leaving Motswaledi’s funeral midway though he was scheduled to speak at the funeral.
“As you all know I hail from Serowe and I am the paramount chief of Bangwato. I have learnt that some members of other political parties were not allowed to speak at Motswaledi’s funeral. Because I am from Serowe and because I am the paramount chief of Bangwato I take this time to apologise to Saleshando of what happened at the funeral,” said Khama in one of his walkabouts in Selibe Phikwe.
Khama added that what happened there was not right. Even though Saleshando is the president of the BCP from the opposition side he has the right to speak whenever he is required to do so. Just like Motswaledi’s relatives he is pained by the passing of Motswaledi.”
However, Khama’s apology to Saleshando has not settled well with UDC.
The UDC say they are surprised that they are held accountable for Saleshando not speaking when the truth is that he left the funeral early.
The party’s spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa said they are disturbed by insensitive statements that have been made by some politicians and the state media who want to portray the UDC negatively.
“They seem to be much more interested in promoting themselves and diverting attention at the expense of the Motswaledi family. We call upon them to allow the Motswaledi family to mourn the loss of their son in peace. They should instead talk about the mystery that surrounds his death. The nation wants answers. It is the failure to give plausible answers that has caused this anger,” Mohwasa said in a statement.
The UDC spokesperson said what is alien to this country is mysterious deaths saying if there is anything that Chiefs have to do and talk about is the protection of their subjects from the state security apparatus; the very institutions that are supposed to protect them.
“What threatens our peace as a nation is the continued abuse of the state media. This is what makes our people angry. The leadership should not only hurry to criticise and apologise selectively, but should act on matters that have brought about this anger. The leadership should be quick to talk against corruption, erosion of democracy and freedom,” said Mohwasa.
Furthermore Mohwasa said the real problem is not that some could not speak at a memorial service or funeral.
“Someone should take the responsibility and not pass the buck. The nation needs assurances from Lieutenant General Ian Khama as a chief and the Head of State and not just an apology to a political bosom friend. When you go to a funeral you do it out of mourning and respect. You don’t attend just because you are to make a speech. To walk out just because you have been left out due to time pressure does not make sense and cannot be justified,” he noted.
UDC says the apology from Khama to Saleshando was unnecessary and misplaced. They say Khama should not use the UDC name to solidify his friendship with Saleshando.
“In fact it is Saleshando and his colleagues who should apologise. Other speakers also had their speeches cut short because of the time constraints. The question is why is Khama apologising to Saleshando only?” Mohwasa added.