A Botswana Democratic Party parliamentary caucus has extracted an apology from President Festus Mogae over a number of public insults he hurled at party MPs recently.
Mogae was forced on a humiliating climb-down at a recent BDP caucus where he allegedly admitted before MPs that he had been “impulsive” and “less than discreet” with some of his public comments.
BDP Executive Secretary, Batlang Serema, would not be drawn into discussing details of the meeting.
An insider, however, said it was hoped Mogae’s apology would finally bring to an end Botswana’s longest mud slinging match between a sitting President and members of parliament.
“I am limited as to what to say because a party caucus is a behind the scenes meeting,” said Dr. Serema.
A member, who attended the meeting, said an attempt was made to force the president to go on Botswana Television to make a public apology.
Botswana Television is one of the platforms the President had used to vent his frustrations by hurling some of the most aggressive words against the party members of parliament.
In a widely publicized interview, Mogae said that some of the BDP members of parliament were behaving like uncastrated goats.
The Daily News, a government mouthpiece and the country’s largest circulating newspaper, also carried the interview.
Other Members thought forcing the President to apologise on television would amount to humiliation.
In the end, it was resolved that the President should find an appropriate public forum which he could use to put a spin to the effect that he has since “reconciled” with Members of Parliament from his party following a season of tempestuous relations.
“I would be out of order to discuss such things,” emphasized Serema.
Relations between Mogae and Members of Parliament from his BDP started to melt down when a number of MPs questioned some of the government policies, especially lack of progress on citizen economic empowerment.
As part of a grand scheme to register their displeasure with the executive, MPs went as far as to block and, in some cases, reject government policies and pieces of legislation brought before parliament.
One of the Bills they rejected was the Judges Pension Bill.
It was then that Mogae used the BDP National Council gathering to vent his frustrations.
He started by telling the ruling party policy forum that while he was gratified by the continuing factional reconciliation inside the BDP, he was irritated by the emergence of rampant “individualism” among BDP Members of Parliament.
“An MP cannot denigrate, ridicule, disparage, malign, vilify, revile and cast aspersions on the BDP Government and still expect the electorate to return the party to power,” said the clearly annoyed President.
He said it was possible the MPs so behaved under the belief that they were being fearless and defiant of the “stupid BDP government.”
The truth, he said, however, was that they were living under “willful self-decent and delusion.”
“The temptation to play to the press gallery and opposition hordes must be resisted,” added the clearly exasperated President.
As if the National Council disparages were not enough, President Mogae was shortly on his way to a BDP Women’s League fundraising event at Serowe at which he told his audience that Members of Parliament from his party had tried to “blackmail” him into increasing their salaries before they could pass the Judges Bill.
Except for a few measured grumbles throughout these attacks by their President, the Members of Parliament kept their silence.
It was the interview with Botswana Television during which he likened the MPs from his party with “un-castrated little goats” that broke the camel’s back.
By then, the MPs felt that they had had enough and could not allow the President to get away with it.
Behind the scenes they started to demand an apology.