University of Botswana Student Representative Council (UBSRC) Acting President Dikosha Dikosha blames the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leadership for politicising their recent strike as he says it was never political but motivated by the pressure and hardships the students found themselves in.
Speaking to The Botswana Gazette in an interview at the Civic Centre Hall in Gaborone where UB students were housed after being removed from UB on Thursday, Dikosha criticized a BDP statement against their strike saying it was careless and misinformed. “As leaders, we expected them to engage us and hear us out then maybe try and find a solution to our problems,” he said. He said that in contrast the intervention of opposition party leaders was commendable as they helped them with shelter and food, a gesture they expected instead of the BDP’s disdainful rebuke they learnt through the media
“Botsalo Ntuane and the BDP should understand that we are in a battle that we are not ready to surrender; it is our welfare we are complaining about through this demonstration’ they won’t intimidate or scare us; they have just fuelled us to soldier on,” he declared.
Dikosha explained that, the demonstration was not only a protest for student allowances, but their welfare issues in general. Among the things they are not happy about is the book store which he says is unreasonably expensive and Shoppers Supermarket which he also said is expensive even though students are forced to buy from it as they need permission to buy elsewhere. “We have tried on several occasions to engage the authorities from the Ministry of Education and UB management on all these matters but they either turn us down or ignore us,” he said.
“The demonstration is for all UB students and some of them are members of GS26 who are members of the BDP even our SRC President even though he has since resigned from BDP after a statement,” Dikosha added.
Bakotele Mmipi, the former SRC president, announced his resignation from the BDP through his Facebook page expressing disappointment with how the party deals with student issues, saying he could not continue being part of a regime which does not want to engage in solving matters but instead wants to continue oppressing students.
“As a life member of the party, I committed my life and resources to defending the party and its constitution however I have run out of the energy and the will to continue,” he wrote.
This was a few hours after BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane released a statement condemning the strike of UB students, calling for them to be jailed or expelled for burning the national flag. No proof exists however that the flag was burnt.