Botswana: AP Calls Masisi, Khama to Order

26 February 2019

A response to divisive statements made by the President and immediate Former President of the Republic of Botswana

We, the Alliance for Progressives wish to express grave concern about the unfolding narrative playing out within the ruling party, particularly the potential deleterious influence on our national tranquility, of the words and sentiments attributed to both the current President of the Republic of Botswana, Dr Masisi and his predecessor Lt General Dr Khama which are provoking, invoking and stoking undue tribal tensions.

We are aware that we the Progressives do not possess neither the monopoly of wisdom nor the authority to enter into the fray of the internal affairs at the Botswana Democratic Party or any other political formation on our land. In fact, we particularly loathe to be commentators on what transpires in other parties, when there is so much more to focus on: The nation can remain assured that we are singularly focused on and determined to give Botswana and Batswana an option for a new Botswana that is a paragon of nation building and prosperity on the African continent.

And so our grave concern about statements made by leaders of the BDP emanates purely from the reality that the BDP is currently an institution that is constitutionally mandated to govern the affairs of our republic, and its leader is the Head of State. These leaders should be aware that there is a burden of responsibility that comes with government, the chief among which is to hold our people and communities together, united, regardless of any differences that may or may not exist among them. Our nation is founded on the idea that the diversity of our culture, language, beliefs, gender or religions - should be a source of our pride, strength and a galvanising ingredient for our common aspirations and vision to create a nation in which all enjoy the rights to equality, freedom, justice and pursuit of happiness. This diversity should be used to unite us, not divide us.

Indeed, we have no business and indeed no interest in volunteering a view on who between the current and immediate former President, is right or wrong in their ongoing public impasse. However, as citizens and indeed as a progressive movement, we have the responsibility if not moral obligation to call out anyone regardless of their place in society on words expressed that could potentially undermine, provoke, invoke or stoke undue misunderstandings or misinterpretations that threaten the well cultivated tranquility and unity of our beautiful nation.

This careless use of words by both Presidents could also feed a growing international sentiment that our country is on the verge of a complete paralysis of its democratic institutions in general. If left unabated, the economic consequences oocassioned by such an international sentiment will adversely affect all our citizens regardless of their party affiliation. We call upon all fair-minded citizens of all pursuasions to stand up and discourage any celebration of the divisive sentiments conjured by the two BDP leaders.

It is in this spirit, and with the utmost respect, that we wish to appeal to both his Excellency the President of Botswana Dr Masisi and Former President Lt General Dr Ian Khama to exercise their rights (in responding to how they are being treated by the other) with the wisdom, calmness, maturity and discipline worthy of those who command significant audience and following among the citizens of our nation. None of the two are at the core victims of any ethnic or tribalist forces; on the contrary both are leading figures in an institution and nation whose foundational pillars are under threat, and both should confront these challenges with wisdom, maturity, responsibility and serenity.

Hon Dr Phenyo Butale

Secretary General of the Alliance for Progressives

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