The leadership of the opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) have dismissed as fantasy claims, allegations that President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s life was under threat forcing him to abandon a trip to Mozambique last week and go into hiding.
UDC President Duma Boko and Vice President Dumelang Saleshando accuse the overzealous Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) for peddling lies to journalists about an alleged assassination attempt on Masisi. UDC vice president Dumelang Saleshando said therefore DISS is pushing agenda to seek sympathy votes for Masisi’a ailing Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), indicating that he wouldn't be surprised if the DISS stage an assassination of President Masisi in hope of gathering sympathy votes.
Saleshando also rubbished claims that Boko is part of the plot to assassinate Masisi, charging that he (Masisi) is only running from the boiling BDP crisis, as the new Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) continues to cause more damage to his party. “BDP is in a very serious crisis which has thrown Masisi into a serious dilemma. He is fighting political battles with the DISS which tries to create fake impression that Masisi is not safe. BDP is in a deep mess at the moment,” Saleshando echoed.
The Maun West parliamentary candidate also said Masisi is aware that he is on the brink of losing power come October elections; hence he is just playing tricks of getting sympathy votes from the public. “Masisi’s only threat is losing at the ballot. His days are numbers as the president because for us if he is not campaigning as he does, he is giving us more advantage in our journey to win power. Seeking sympathy votes through fake assassination threats won’t help him repair the torn apart BDP,” he lashed out.
Addressing the media on Tuesday, upon his arrival from Africa’s Wildlife Economy Summit in Zimbabwe, Masisi declined to comment on the alleged assassination threats. He referred enquiries on the issue to DISS Director General Peter Magosi.
Boko hits back
Addresing the media on Wednesday afternoon, immediately after returning from a two weeks sojourn in Europe, Boko dismissed media reports that he knows about the plot to assassinate Masisi. He blasted Government to be irresponsible because of its silence over the threats of such nature. He said the silence is a clear demonstration that there is no evidence to support the claims because if there had been such investigations would have been launched and arrests made over the reports. “It unfortunate that our government is so incompetent that it fails to act on allegations of attempts to asassinate the President. If they have evidence that I am plotting to eliminate Masisi they must come out with it, if there is no evidence they should just shut up,” Boko said.
“In fact we want Masisi to remain alive. We will meet him at the polls as we will be taking away power from him in a democratic manner, shame on government,” he said.
The UDC maverick politician said he has a lot of respect for Masisi, as such he has no reason to embarrass him at all, dismissing claims that he is plotting any assassination as nonsense.
Boko, Khama bond
Regarding his relationship with former president Ian Khama, Boko retorted that he senses some jealousy and hatred for the respect that Khama enjoys. He said his relationship with Khama should not be confused with regards to the rumours of UDC working with Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), which enjoys Khama’s backing.
Boko said his relationship with Khama is on personal basis and he does not have any hatred towards him despite differing with him while he was still president. “Khama is just a human being like us. I don’t see a need for some bitter people to keep demonizing him. He is a great man who enjoys his charity work and interacting with Batswana as Motswana, so why should it be a big deal for me to associate with him,’’ he added.
Boko further said should BPF happen to engage UDC for cooperation talks; the party is welcome to do with the process entailing UDC at large, not individual feelings.
Quizzed on his mission to Europe and how it fits within UDC, he noted that his trip was to engage with the international media over the UDC project. He revealed that he also went to seek support from some of his European based friends whom he met on the course of the trip, adding that he knows his trip will also peddle more lies but he does not care. “I absolutely see nothing wrong with getting help from friends in any form. Everyone get help from their friends and if they give us money to campaign we appreciate that. Part of my trip was to ask for funding for the party,” Boko charged.
The UDC leadership said the party has not taken any decision to boycott some media houses, as per outbursts by Selibe West MP Dithapelo Keorapetse who ealr in the week spewed vitriol against The Patriot on Sunday and other media houses. He even called for a boycott against them, claiming that he does not buy or read them.
In a separate engagement on the matter, UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa distanced the coalition from Keorapetse's utterances and also dismissed the public outbursts as not representative of the coalition. "We will discuss the issue with our member to prevent such unfortunate incidents going forward. Re tlaa kgalemela mokaulengwe," said Mohwasa.
Boko assured journalists that UDC is open towards working with all media houses, adding that UDC individual members who decide to boycott the media do so on their own. He encouraged journalists to carry objective, balanced and fair reports to avoid creating confusion within the public who are consumers of media products.