The teacher at the receiving end of President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s verbal attack during a Kgotla meeting in Serowe last week says he stands by the questions he addressed to the President.
Speaking to Sunday Standard following the social media backlash over Masisi’s uncanny response to his questions, Gobonywewame Rapitsenyane said while he was aware of the consequences and victimization that may come as a result of the President’s utterances nothing had occurred yet.
The Lotsane Senior Secondary School teacher had sought clarification from Masisi regarding media reports that there was a fallout between himself and his predecessor Lieutenant General Ian Khama.
He had also wanted to know if Masisi was on a mission to reverse programs introduced by Khama as a result of the alleged fallout.
While Rapitsenyane’s line of questioning had attracted a significant display of support from the public gathering, the President’s response led to an avalanche of social media condemnation, with the public questioning Masisi’s temperament, arrogance, and a perceived lack of emotional intelligence .
With the nation still battling nightmares from his immediate predecessor’s non tolerant and authoritarian style of leadership, questions were raised over Masisi’s own capacity to tolerate dissenting views.
“It is an act of intolerance for a president to publicly call for disciplinary action against a person he went personal on. Even if action may be required you do not call for it publicly as a leader. It is undue influence on those who can take action and taints the entire process,” twitted human rights lawyer Uyapo Ndadi.
Masisi had warned Rapitsenyane, an Agriculture teacher at Lotsane Senior Secondary School in Palapye, to desist from bringing “political” questions to the kgotla and further advised the teacher’s superiors to reprimand him for his actions.
He expressed shock at how Rapitsenyane had found the opportunity to even attend the public kgotla meeting when he should have been at work.
“Did you even apply for leave?” Masisi asked rhetorically.
Speaking to Sunday Standard Rapitsenyane said he had in fact applied for a day off to attend the kgotla meeting and voice his opinions. He said his opinions were not politically motivated but rather based on his observation of recent media reports about Masisi and Khama’s ‘very public’ fallout .
He refused to be drawn into discussing the President’s response to his questions saying he prefered to reserve his comments on the matter. Masisi had also called baseless claims that he was at war with Khama and that he was on a mission to reverse all the programs implemented under the latter’s administration.
Masisi blamed the “allegations” on social media where he said everyone was at liberty to say stuff which at times did not respect the subjects of the matter under discussion.
He advised the school teacher to use “the right” platforms to air his concerns and accused him of either wishing for bad blood between the President himself and Khama or he had some information he was not disclosing.
On the issue of “go baakanya lehatshe” Masisi said he had carried on where Khama had left off saying it was only natural given the history of Botswana presidents from the late Sir Seretse Khama, to the late Sir Ketumile Masire , Festus Mogae, and more recently Ian Khama.
“I have a lot on my hands and I don’t have time to dwell on trivial and petty issues.” Rapitsenyane has also told Sunday Standard of his shock at the President’s announcement of his profession and place of work since the two had never met or interacted before. “I was shocked as to how he even knew my first name (Rapitsenyane only mentioned his initials), where I work and what I do given I had only, prior to the kgotla meeting, seen him on the papers and television,” he said. He said he had since getting back to work on Friday received mixed signals from his fellow colleagues but nothing beyond that.