Former Speaker of the National assembly, Dr Margaret Nasha has praised former Presidents, Sir Seretse Khama, Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae for being patriotic and for playing a significant role in the development of Botswana.
Dr Nasha said unlike the current President Dr Ian Khama Seretse Khama who is failing the nation, his predecessors left a legacy.
Speaking during the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) rally to launch Uyapo Nyeku, the by election candidate for Philip Matante East in Francistown at the weekend, Nasha said that the current President is failing the country.
In a no blows barred speech Nasha said the first president, Sir Seretse Khama played a significant role in the development of this country and Africa in general.
“He was instrumental in the formation of the Front Line States which fought for the liberation of black people who were under the oppression of the colonialists. He also had the plight of the citizens at heart,” she said.
“The other President Sir Ketumile Masire also played a critical role when he refused to recognize selfish leaders such as Lucas Mangope who wanted to make Bophuthatswana a sovereign state and become a Bantustan. Masire believed in the liberation of all black people against the white colonialists. The third President Festus Mogae also left a legacy as he stood resolute during the conflict between Botswana and Namibia over Sedudu Island. Trial was held at the International Court of Justice, legal experts were involved and Botswana emerged a victor in the case. We reclaimed our island back,” added Dr Nasha.
She also said Mogae also made his mark in the fight against the HIV/Aids by advocating for the introduction of Anti- Retro Viral (ARV) drugs in the country. She said the drugs have saved lives against the HIV/ Aids scourge. She also showered accolades on Mogae for being a disciplined democrat who believed in consultations when making decisions. She emphasized that all these Presidents left a legacy, which cannot be said about the current President Khama.
“Under the current leadership, the country is ravaged by poverty, unemployment, corruption and the civil service that is demoralized and unhappy. Khama is surrounded by bootlickers who believe in impressing him. Everything is in chaos,” she said.
The UDC council candidate, Nyeku will battle it out in the upcoming by election next week against Peter Nare of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). The seat was left vacant after the death of Botswana Movement for Democracy(BMD) Councilor Shadreck Nyeku early this year.
Dr Nasha questioned President Khama’s insinuations that opposition leaders are unpatriotic. She said instead, it is Khama and his ruling government that have failed to show true patriotism.
She said patriotism means among other things volunteering services to serve the nation. She gave example of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) soldiers.
Dr Nasha explained that during the Ian Smith regime in South Rhodesia (Now Zimbabwe) when Smith’s soldiers attacked some parts of Botswana, a number of BDF soldiers sacrificed their lives as they were killed in the line of duty in Lesoma defending the country.
“Now that is what we call patriotism. The soldiers sacrificed their lives for the nation. It is however sad to note that soldiers are not recognized under the current government. Some of them continue to be fired without any proper reasons. When UDC takes power in 2019, we will seek answers as to why these soldiers were fired,” said Dr Nasha to the screams and applause of UDC members.
She also accused the ruling BDP for failing to come up with a whistle blowing law to protect whistle blowers adding that such is a sign of lack of patriotism by the current government.
“It is also sad to note that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, which is mandated with fighting corruption is toothless. Corruption continues to wreak havoc in government under DCEC’s watch. Corruption crimes that are committed by those in the echelons of power but they are not prosecuted. A number of big wigs are often implicated in corruption allegations but they are never brought to book,” she said.
She also lamented a lack of media freedom in the country. Dr Nasha who is also a former journalist, said that journalists continue to be intimidated and arrested for exposing maladministration and corruption activities in the government enclave.
“Those who are in power should know that the media will continue to expose the rot in government. The information will continue to leak and there is nothing that the government can do about it,” said the former speaker.
She assured UDC members that she will continue to advocate for media freedom and will continue to support the fourth estate. On why she defected from the ruling party to join the UDC, Dr Nasha said that she left the party because there was no longer inner-party democracy.
“I left this party because there is no longer inner-party democracy. Under President Khama’s leadership, party members are not allowed to express their opinions or views. Instead the party is infested with bootlickers who are only there to impress the President. There are those who have been skeptical about my departure from the BDP saying that I am just like the rest of BDP bootlickers. Let me tell you one thing, BDP members can attest that I have always been among a few who spoke their opinion without fear hence my decision to leave the party. I could not take it anymore,” she said.
In conclusion she implored Batswana especially the youth to elect the UDC and remove the ruling BDP from power as it is ruining the count. Dr Nasha who defected from the ruling party early this year, was the first female Speaker of Parliament in the country and she served the BDP for 21 years. Whilst at the BDP, Dr Nasha also wrote her book, Madam Speaker Sir,” which ruffled her relationship with President Khama. The book detailed Khama’s leadership style at the BDP.