20 March 2019

Botswana: Is Mabaila Fooling Masisi?

This is more about survival than genuine return to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP); declares some observers on the hasty retreat of political activist Tshephang Mabaila to the party that he had recently dumped to run as an independent candidate for Mogoditshane.

Mabaila announced his return to the BDP on Thursday to continue serving a five-year suspension that he was slapped with for campaigning to have a Motion of No Confidence passed against party President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Mabaila revealed to that he has written to the party president pleading that his suspension be lifted and he be reinstated back into the party. He denied ever condemning Masisi's leadership.

"I have taken a decision to withdraw my candidacy as independent candidate for Mogoditshane and this means that I am paving way for the BDP candidate Tumiso Rakgare in bid for winning back the constituency by the BDP. I have since written letter to president Masisi seeking forgiveness and I am hoping he will accede to my request," he said.

He denied ever working with former President Ian Khama, and Duma Boko - Leader of the Opposition in Parliament - in plotting against Masisi on a motion of confidence.

Mabaila said he fully supported President Masisi on the presidential race under which the incumbent leader is being challenged by Serowe South MP Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi. He acknowledged the ongoing power struggle and urged all democrats to rally behind Masisi to restore the party's pride.

Is Mabaila throwing away Khama?

Mabaila is former President Khama's long-time ally and it was not immediately clear whether he has cut ties with Khama to go with Masisi.

"I know currently there is a race for the party presidency between Venson-Moitoi and Masisi, which has somehow divided the party in who supports who but I am fully behind Masisi. He is the president on the seat now so he needs everyone's support," he said although saying he was limited to comment onto party issues as he was suspended.

With long established ties with Khama, observers are not convinced though that Mabaila could shift his loyalty to Masisi overnight and there is suspicion that he could be playing some political game that would ultimately work for his long term ally.

Bogus degree, tax evasion

Mabaila, who has been under the radar of law enforcement agencies such as BURS and DCEC over connections of tax evasion and fake educational certificates, denied that he was trying to dodge facing investigations by rejoining the party.

He said the bogus degree which he attained from Belford University in London was not the issue of him faking certificates as the whole issue was about the accreditation of the course.

Mabaila was investigated by the DCEC over claims that he was awarded a degree in psychology by Belford University - an institution that has since shut down after it was exposed for offering fake degree certificates for a free online.

He said he has also since complied in paying tax.

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