The Botswana National Front (BNF) is concerned by the continued abuse of public institutions by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) led government under President Mokgweetsi Masisi. The BDP continues to abuse public institutions to gain political mileage and remain in power. This is confirmed by the latest move to shift Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) to the Office of the President (OP). Currently FIA is under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. This clearly demonstrates that Masisi is not different from former President Khama who moved state BTV and DISS to OP.
BNF suspicions are borne out of recent shameless lootings. Recently, the nation was shocked when the BDP close associates were linked to the looting of the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) and Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) where millions were allegedly traced back to the party and its associates. Meanwhile fuel prices continue to rise as there is no cushion. The public pensioners are also facing a bleak future and those in retirement are already beggars and paupers.
The abuse of these financial public institutions is a continuation of the BDP legacy as the party once brought another financial institution to its knees. The National Development Bank (NDB) is yet to recover from the devastating unpaid loans and interests from the BDP close associates, including cabinet ministers. Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency (CEDA) has also been reported in the media to have been used to fund BDP connected members, and most have failed to repay the loans and yet are continuously re-financed. The few opposition party members who were lucky to get the NDB and CEDA loans have been humiliated, blackmailed and threatened by the financial institutions and BDP now uses the debts to attract them. Worse, it is mostly the opposition party activists whose assets are attached, while BDP are either protected or awarded public tenders to help them pay off the loans.
Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) must also move away from politics. It is such a prestigious organ that it would be regrettable to be used by politicians. We do not want a situation where we suspect its actions are politically influenced as this will erode its public trust.
Another public institution that the BDP led government continue to abuse and use to recruit new members is the public turned state media, Radio Botswana and Botswana Television. Almost every week the two stations carry news items of the new recruits from the opposition parties to the BDP. While the opposition parties have received hundreds of members from the BDP, including several councillors, these have not received the same coverage. The Ombudsman ruling against the BDP has confirmed this abuse.
The opposition has also watched helplessly as the BDP uses the DCEC and DISS to campaign for the BDP. While several cases of corruption have been reported and investigated by DCEC involving top government officers and some cabinet ministers, the cases have not reached the courts of law as the BDP is aware of the possible repercussions. The DISS has been used to spy against opposition activists and trade unions. The institution has been used to destabilise the opposition parties under the BDP instructions.
It is therefore not surprising that President Masisi wants to move the FIA to the OP so that he can easily use it to collect financial intelligence and spy for the BDP to identify and victimise funders of opposition parties. With FIA under OP, all financial corruption and theft by the BDP and its members will be hidden and buried. The Umbrella for Democratic Change is the only solution in 2019 to save our Botswana.
The BNF calls upon President Masisi to embrace good governance principles by ensuring that all oversight institutions are independent and report to Parliament, not to him. These include the Ombudsman, DCEC, DISS, FIA, etc. State broadcasters should also move out of the Office of the President and be seen to be editorially independent.
BNF Secretary for Information and Publicity