The Secretary General of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Botsalo Ntuane has expressed disappointment at the problems engulfing the Botswana Railways, but insisted that his party is not to blame.
Below is his full statement: headlined ‘Don’t blame BDP. Blame Botswana Railways Board and Executive Management’
Like many Batswana who celebrated the return of the BR Express, which was commissioned into service on 22 March 2016 in Lobatse by His Excellency President SKI Khama, we are equally disappointed that the maiden return journey from Francistown to Gaborone which was scheduled for 21:00hrs Wednesday night (23 March) could not proceed as planned due to the technical problems reported. We have noted the unhappiness expressed by many of our citizens at the unfortunate development which admittedly does not provide a good advertisement for this very essential service which travellers have been requesting for many years since its suspension. We remain hopeful Botswana Railways will address the teething problems experienced in Francistown so that we put the embarrassment suffered behind in order for normal service to resume.
We are however dismayed by the opportunistic attacks leveled at the BDP and its government for the problems experienced at Francistown station. Our party has been subjected to a barrage of condemnation both on private radio stations and social media. We also, unsurprisingly, note that UDC has jumped on the bandwagon of criticism as articulated by the party’s spokesman Moeti Mohwasa on different public platforms. As BDP we want to categorically state that criticism leveled at our party is completely misdirected. Much as we are the governing party of the republic, with respect to Botswana Railways, our government has appointed a board to oversee the running of the parastatal body. In turn Botswana Railways is staffed by salaried full time professionals who are responsible for operational issues including ensuring the BR Express runs without any mishap. Against this background it is both the Botswana Railways board and its executive management who must be called to account for what transpired on Wednesday night.
The tendency by some within our country to play partisan politics on straight forward operational matters such as the matter under reference does not assist the situation and only serves the function of shielding some parastatal boards and the professionals they supervise from accounting for their shortcomings. It is grossly unfair for sections of the public, the media and the UDC to apportion blame to the BDP and conveniently ignore the strategic role of the board and executive management in the much reported turn of events. Consequently as BDP, we trust Minister Tshenolo Mabeo under whose jurisdiction Botswana Railways is located, will engage the board and its executive management to get to the bottom of the issue, including allegations purporting that the passenger coaches procured is actually old stock that has been repainted contrary to public expectation that they will be riding in brand new comfort. Minister Mabeo’s intervention will be in accordance with Guidelines for the Exercise of Shareholder Oversight over Parastatals which were unveiled in the 2016/2016 budget speech.