ANC, DA trade barbs in Botswana

  • As guests of the UDC, the SACP says it is puzzled by humungous white ownership of land in Botswana while the DA warns against the dangers of parliament becoming the lap dog of the executive


It took the inaugural congress of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to trigger the spillover of running battles between South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) where their representatives exchanged stinging remarks on foreign soil.

Representatives of both DA and the ANC-allied South African Communist Party (SACP) trained their missiles on their opponents back in South Africa over the weekend where they were billed as guests at the weekend opposition coalition festivities.

In a cringe worthy but fiery address, the SACP’s Meshack Ntshupelang told a UDC rally in Gaborone West that while his party was not going to pick and choose  friends for the UDC in South Africa, it would not allow the UDC’s friends to come and peddle lies in Botswana, especially through dubious men of the cloth.

Ntshupelang blasted away at the DA: “Comrades of Botswana, we are not going to choose friends for you in South Africa but we are not going to allow your friends to come here and lie to you through a pastor who is a liar and a thief.”

Ntshupelang was apparently referring to DA President Mmusi Maimane who is also an ordained pastor. He was also presumably angered by the remarks Maimane had made at the opening session of the UDC congress the previous day.

Maimane naturally earned the wrath of Ntshupelang because the SACP is in a tripartite alliance with the ANC and the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU).

In a remarkably short address full of vitriol targeted at the DA, Ntshupelang further charged: “Any friend you choose in South Africa is your friend, but we will tell you the truth, we are not going to shy away from that.”

In another matter, the communist said it was a puzzlement that in Botswana, a country with a population of two million people, land was n the hands of “white individuals and brutal capitalists while indigenous Batswana continue to suffer”.

On Friday, Maimane had made several remarks generally regarding liberation movements in the sub region and in particular against the ANC-led alliance in South Africa.

He said that in his own country, the ANC had chosen its own people to head different institutions of state, including sacrosanct ones such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

“I am telling you now,” Maimane stated. “In South Africa today we are fighting so that the NPA still stands because liberation movements chose their people and put them in institutions. We are fighting that the Public Protector still stands.”

Furthermore, he said they were also fighting that even in parliament the National Assembly did not become the lap dog of the executive arm of government. “We want a parliament that will become the watchdog of the executive,” Maimane said to rapturous applause.

He told UDC delegates to learn from the mistakes committed in South Africa so that the same would not be repeated in Botswana.

He said in South Africa, embezzled funds were not  taken from just anyone but were taken from the poor as evidenced by the recent tax hike instituted to make up for the country’s budgetary shortfall.

“We saw right now with the budget (and) with the way South African money has been plundered,” he went on. “They have to increase taxes. It’s because they don’t have the money to look after the people.”

Maimane, who was speaking in an apparent disposition of frankness, seemed to lump the Botswana Democratic Party with the ANC and Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF.

He also stated that while they had seen change in the ANC, the ultimate change would be the removal of the ANC as a ruling party.