Sunday, September 20, 2020

“The BDP split pains me. Sir Seretse would feel the same” ÔÇô QKJ Masire

Khama’s former Permanent Secretary, Philip Steenkamp, says the founding president would be sad at a couple of things.

“His party is fragmenting. That would naturally make him sad. He would also be sad that we haven’t spread the wealth a bit more. He believed in social justice and we haven’t gone too far on that. We still can’t provide enough employment,” Steenkamp says.

He points out that he cannot understand why government should reintroduce school fees, given that parents already contribute to the education of their children by expenses for things like uniform and shoes.

In another interview Khama’s former Vice President and co-founder of the ruling party, Ketumile Masire said: “He would be greatly disappointed because he often said if we ever lost in this country, it wouldn’t be due to the opposition but due to lack of coherence among members of BDP. Ka Setswana o ne a re, ‘Ha party e ka senyega e tlaa senngwa ke lona MaDomkrag’. Good thinking people are able to see what a sequence of events can lead to. Simple analysis is that if there is coherence, there is no reason why we can’t continue for a good time. So he was proved right.”

He explains that his offer to mediate during the standoff between the party’s leadership and the faction that has since broken away to form BMD was out of the “same fear” that if people don’t thrash out their differences and find common purpose then they are bound to break the party.
{Following are some excerpts from the interview.}

At a personal level, what does this split mean to you?

When you take the sacrifices that not only I, but the rest of us went through to put the whole thing together, to see it go asunder under circumstances that are not that clear is heartbreaking.
As I said to Barataphathi and the Executive Committee, democracy in Botswana has been the hope of Batswana and the rest of Africa. When other countries were told that they couldn’t do well, they would say, “If Batswana can make it, so can we”. This (split) would only lend credence to our detractors that we are becoming like the rest of Africa.

So do you believe the split could have been avoided?

If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have arranged for both wings to come together.

Does the BDP now face a real threat of losing power?

Yes. When I talked to BMD, they said, “There is no need to fear us”. I said I didn’t fear them, but the chaos that they want to lead us into; where there are so many groups winning elections but none without clear majority to be able to form a government on its own. I don’t believe in coalitions. They may be the ultimate when the best has failed, but the best is for one party to run the country on the basis of its programme. In a coalition, there is horse trading and national interest takes second place.

What does it means to see the departure of some of political prot├®g├®es like Botsalo Ntuane and Gomolemo Motswaledi?

It’s sad because we bank on succession; good people coming and taking over as old folks get older. If we do away with youth, we are doing away with the future; and the brighter the youth the brighter the future. And anybody who doesn’t recognize that these are bright young people needs to go to an optician to get his glasses attended to.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

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