President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi has promised that the time to tell the nation the whole truth pertaining to the standoff between his government and his predecessor Lt. Gen. Dr. Ian Khama will come and “is not too far”.
Masisi was responding to a question on Tuesday evening during a press conference he addressed at the airport on his return from the African Union general assembly that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Masisi was asked whether it was by design or a coincidence that Carter Morupisi, the permanent secretary to the president engages in a heated exchage of words with Khama every time Masisi is out of the country. To this, Masisi said he has just arrived and has not heard of anything during his absence about Morupisi and Khama exchanging heated words.
But then he added: “But you know to address the issue more broadly, time will come, and it is not too far where we need to settle all this. “Settling it is just telling the whole truth and nothing else but the truth and sharing with you the public of Botswana the whole truth so that we can decide on who is and what you know”. Among some of the biggest challenges he said is the interpretation of the law of the benefits given to retired presidents. For example, what the Act means when it says that a former president is entitled to use air transportation on a case by case basis as approved by the president.
“We need help with that. I will tell you what I interpret that to mean as president and others can interpret it in other ways and everything else will follow. “Le gone ga go tsewa ga di maids can be fully explained in a non-emotional manner so that we can finish with all those things and get on the business of finding jobs for you and other citizens. That should be what we are concerned about”.
African Peer Review Mechanism
As to what informed Botswana’s accession to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) which former President Festus Mogae had been against - Masisi said he could not answer for Mogae because at that time he was not even in government.
However, he said his government was motivated by the fact that Botswana’s record as demonstrated by the indicators and public pledges of commitment to good governance “had no parallel in Africa”. He emphasised that Botswana is a member of the African Union and that the African Peer Review Mechanism offers members an opportunity to share their developmental challenges and opportunities and to be reviewed by peers.
“I do not see why if we are a responsible government and member of the AU, we cannot offer that of ourselves. It should be mutually beneficial of-course there maybe teething problems, but you do not let the problems of the strategy deny you the opportunity of exploring that opportunity”. He said by so doing Botswana is also helping to develop Africa just as Africa is helping to develop us. “There are some extremely good people in countries that we may assume to be far less privileged than our own, extremely smart people. So Botswana must be open to become part of the continent,” Dr. Masisi said.
AU and SADC
On Zimbabwe Dr. Masisi said the AU and SADC are not trying to interfere in Zimbabwe but are trying to give support to the country to be orderly and peaceful. But in order to do so, he said one needs to fully appreciate the historical dynamics of Zimbabwe. “It is a very complex situation in Zimbabwe, it is not easy and the call that we made which is the view of Botswana as, difficult as it might be, is that there must be a full respect for the rule of law, there must be a commitment to peace, commitment to protecting the rights (of citizens) as enshrined in Zimbabwe constitution”.
He said they engaged President Emerson Mnangagwa in Addis Ababa and that he gave them a progress report of the loss of lives; destruction of property; rape; beatings and shootings that happened during the protests in Zimbabwe.
He said they took comfort in Mnangagwa’s assurance that his government had enlisted faith-based organisations to receive reports of rape, beating and shooting allegedly committed by police and monitor them.
Lift sanctions on Zimbabwe
Masisi said that SADC was preparing a communiqué, which Botswana fully ascribes to, urging the rest of the world to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe. “If you are denied access to credit, participation in the finance system of the world, it is extremely difficult to operate a model economy.
“You cannot pay for your imports. You would not have ability to trade with others in a manner that brings confidence to them. You will not be able to pay, to buy machinery, technology and then hold them to account as all of us are responsible for our behaviours. “It is only fair for Zimbabwe that sanctions get lifted and I support that entirely because a prosperous and stable Zimbabwe is good for Botswana, because we too get affected”.
Dr. Masisi recalled that in the past Botswana citizens sent their children to study in Zimbabwean schools at very affordable prices. “We got extremely good education that is good for us, that is trading education, but you know because of the hardships, those are limited, you cannot do it as easily as before,” he said.