President Ian Khama recently came under fierce attack from opposition party leaders, who castigated him for mishandling the public sector strike and his irresponsible utterances in the face of a national crisis.
The leaders of the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) last week challenged Khama to rise to the occasion and hammer out an amicable solution to the ongoing strike.
They also shot salvos at Khama for ignoring their requests for a meeting to discuss the strike, only to make public utterances about the very issues that they want to discuss with him.
“Khama seems reluctant to accede to our request for a meeting. It is unfortunate that he refuses to meet us and yet raises the very issues that we want to discuss with him in public. We call upon Khama to live up to the challenges and responsibilities of his office. Running away from the problem will not get us anywhere. He must not forget that he has a duty to lead,” said BCP President Dumelang Saleshando.
He said Khama must respect the fact that the opposition represents the interests of 47 percent of Batswana, who voted them into parliament and local authorities.
“They gave us the mandate to ensure that their interests are not trampled upon. We have a duty to make our voice heard,” he said.
Saleshando agreed with government that the economic downturn has negatively affected Botswana’s economy, but argued that the need to balance the national budget has to be balanced with the needs of the people.
“It will be foolhardy for us to remain mum when government disregards the plight of the workers,” he said.
He castigated government for failing to lead by example, as their argument for belt tightening is compromised by their wanton spending.
“Botswana military expenditure, as a percentage of GDP, is more than double that of South Africa. It also surpasses that of China, France and the United Kingdom. Khama continues to sponsor pet projects that lack financial sustainability and add no value to the national economy,” said Saleshando.
He called upon Khama to rise to the occasion and demonstrate some commitment to resolving the impasse.
For his part, BNF President Duma Boko said Khama’s conduct is akin to that of a person who lives in a fantasy world, far removed from reality.
“When the reality of those who are on the downside of his management hits home, Khama tailspins in recrimination and spews insults in places far removed from the centre of action. We seek to defend the workers from such unscrupulous leadership,” he said.
The three opposition parties have given Khama an ultimatum to have met them by Friday next week.
BMD President Gomolemo Motswaledi warned that there will be “dire consequences” if Khama refuses to meet them.
”This is a profoundly important matter in the affairs of the nation, and we expect Khama to conduct himself like a President faced with a crisis. We want to put an end to this indecent and obscenely irresponsible leadership,” he said.