Botswana: Business Deals Haunt Masisi

Political Scientist, Dr Boga Manatsha, has warned that President Mokgweetsi Masisi's continued active involvement in business transactions has the potential to tarnish his presidency and damage his legacy.

"Although it may not be legally wrong for him to get into business deals, morally it might be wrong because as Head of State competing with ordinary people for tenders might compromise the evaluation of the tender. Obviously he enjoys unfair advantage over ordinary citizens," he observed.

Dr Manatsha said all the previous Presidents were involved in businesses one way or the other, the only difference being that Masisi's presidency came at a time when citizens are more politically enlightened, thus questioning his motives. "The opposition if they package their message well they might use his involvement in business, especially partnerships with some business people, as a campaign tool against him in 2024," he said.

According to sources, Masisi is engaged in commercial livestock production and horticulture in Matseta near Gaborone. He is also alleged to have a feedlot in Moshupa and farms at Tshele where he is involved in commercial livestock production.

Coming to the President's defence is Vice President Slumber Tsogwane said there is nothing wrong with Masisi being involved in businesses as he has to feed his family.

Masisi involvement in personal business transactions dominated the debate on the extension of the State of Public Emergency on Monday, with the opposition members of Parliament questioning the morality or legality of such deals.

During the debate on SoPE, Leader of the Opposition Dumelang Saleshando took a swipe at President Masisi for competing with ordinary Batswana in acquisition of the Banyana farms."It might be legally right but it is morally wrong for you to compete with Batswana for the acquisition of Banyana farms and in actual fact it is corruption," hit out Saleshando.

Saleshando informed Masisi that he should take a leaf from former South African President Jacob Zuma who was involved in business deals that led to his downfall. "I am just warning President Masisi that you are also treading towards state capture just like a former President of our neighboring country," he fired a warning shot.

Recently the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Karabo Gare informed parliament that Masisi is one of the farmers who won the tender to be leased a portion of Banyana farms. Government decided to privatise Banyana Farms in 2013 following cases of reported maladministration, theft and other bad practices. At one stage 114 cattle went missing from the farm and no action was taken to recover them.

Saleshando revealed that Masisi recently acquired shareholding in a company known as MNG Investment with Choppies Chief Executive Officer Ramachandran Ottapathu. "While we were on lockdown President Masisi continued to get shares from companies of people he deemed 'borampeetjane' and recently was given 10% shareholding in a company owned by CEO of one of the retail shops in Botswana," hit out Saleshando.

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