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Khama, Boko snub Masisi inauguration

Publishing Date : 04 November, 2019


Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama and leader of the main opposition party Duma Boko, yesterday [Friday] failed to show-up at the inauguration of newly elected President Mokgweetsi Masisi.  

The duo were expected to grace the event by the virtue of the positions they hold. Former President, Festus Mogae graced the event, receiving a standing ovation from the 5000 crowd during his arrival. Another prominent figure, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, who served as Vice President from 2012-2014, also attended the inauguration. He was joined by among others former MPs and former cabinet ministers.  

Boko who served as Leader of Opposition from 2014-2019, was nowhere to be seen yesterday. However, other leaders of opposition parties; Ndaba Gaolathe of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), as well as Advocate Sidney Pilane of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), were in attendance. After an intense campaign, UDC failed to dislodge BDP from power, garnering only 15 seats in the process, two less than in the past general elections. If that is not enough, Boko also lost his parliamentary seat to Anna Mokgethi of the ruling party. 

The Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) leader, Biggie Butale also snubbed the inauguration. BPF yesterday released a statement indicating reasons behind the decision to snub the inauguration of Botswana 5th president. "The BPF and its Patron, former President Khama will not be attending the event as we believe grand election fraud took place in this election,” said a statement authored by party spokesperson, Justice Motlhabani.

The party which is a splinter of the ruling party, claimed that government used the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) to mobilise people to attend as well as the extravagant nature of the event “which is not in line with our known modesty for all past presidential inaugurations.” “We are also against aggressive efforts being put into trying to get people to attend the inauguration never before done , to give the impression of a popular President for the benefit of visitors, hence the use of the BDF to try to draw people and live screening,” Motlhabani.  

Khama, who left office at the end of his term in March 2018, has had an acrimonious relationship with his successor soon after leaving office. The fallout, emanating from various factors lead to the formation of BPF, which Khama founded. Prior to elections, Khama was optimistic that the BDP under the leadership of Masisi will succumb to defeat at the hands of UDC/BPF axis. The loose relationship between BPF and UDC has helped the opposition to win a significant number of seats in Central District, with BDP losing Serowe, Bobonong, Mahalapye and Tswapong constituencies for the first time since 1965.

In the Southern part of Botswana however, it was a different story. In unexpected turn of events, BDP eroded UDC support in the traditional Botswana National Front (BNF) strongholds, including winning the entire Gaborone constituencies for the first time since 1979. The BNF poor showing is already causing a rift between the party and its partner, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), which saw its fortunes rising considerably. Of the 15 UDC seats, BCP contributed 11 seats, while BNF only brought home four constituencies.

BNF has since rejected the result fraudulent, while BCP has accepted the result. While Boko snubbed the inauguration, his deputy and the leader of BCP, Dumelang Saleshando graced Masisi’s inauguration, and like a score of political figures, he was received to a thundering cheer by the crowd. Elected MPs from the opposition also attended the inauguration, save the three MPs from BPF, who did not show up.