Weekly roll: Presidential Debate 2019

Presidential debates have not been a common thing in most countries in Africa, our own included but this is now a thing of the past. Botswana now has Presidential debates and this time alone, have had 2 debates held as a build up towards the 2019 General elections.

Last week, Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO), held the first Presidential election and the turn was not pleasing. Only two party presidents showed up for the debate, Mr. Ndaba Gaolatlhe of the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Mr. Biggie Butale of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF).

The second presidential debate was held yesterday by the Mass Media Complex where Botswana Television (BTV) and Radio Botswana (RB1) aired the event live, for all Batswana to see and tune in. Of all the political parties locally the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Alliance for Progressives (AP), Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) showed up. They were joined by a panel of four interviewers and a Master of Ceremony to direct the proceedings.

All party presidents attended to the questions they were asked by the interviewers and attendants in light of their party manifestos. The questions ranged from politics, economics and even characters of the leaders themselves and their parties. On the economic front, the BDP President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, addressed a question on their plans regarding the diamond industry and it’s benefits to Batswana where he cited the movement of the then London based operations that have moved to Botswana. He said that this is great step towards the beneficiation process and has there is more to come, only he couldn’t disclose them at the moment.

Alliance for Progressives President, Mr. Ndaba Gaolatlhe gave light to some of their manifesto points on the economy of Botswana. He spoke to the number of local companies they would like to support to get them to the level of Debswana which is a billion Pula enterprise. “We”, said Gaolatlhe, “would like to grow other local businesses with turnovers of P2.5 billion. Also, why is it that to date we still have Debswana operating only in Botswana?”, he asked, questions that he and his government will answer should they win the elections.

The ever charismatic Mr. Duma Gideon Boko of the Umbrella for Democratic Change was also asked on economics of the country where he pointed to the economic simulation of Botswanan. He said that there is need to stimulate the economy in order for it to do well and one way that they wish to do that us by paying a minimum wage of P3000.00 to Batswana. This would in turn, according to him, result in the spending of this money locally instead of abroad as is the case currently with all the money foreign owned companies and individuals are doing.

Mr. Biggie Butale, the president of the Botswna Patriotic Front, did well in the interrogation of the character of the current president, Dr. Masisi, following a question by one of his party members in attendance. He pressed onto the “bolope” trait of the President and how it ought to be changed because it could lead to the continuation of the unfavourable culture we have in Botswana of not being able to stand up for ourselves against things and people that are not for us.

With only a few days left until the elections, we ran a poll in light of this to ask what the debate meant and did for you. Did it help your voting decision and/or inform and open your eyes on who these candidates really are and their capacity to lead the world’s richest diamond country. 100% of our respondents were that the debate was all of the above which could mean we will make informed decisions during voting next week.