- Prominent Gaborone rallies against SoE on social media
- Domkrag MPs say the SoE has become an irritant
- Sec Gen says the courts will arbitrate
- UDC says it is on the side of transparency
Even before he can declare whether he will seek another extension of the State of Emergency (SoE), President Mokgweetsi Masisi faces the possibility of an internal revolt.
Some MPs of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) say the SoE is increasingly becoming an irritant. Under hashtag “NOTOSOE,” prominent Gaborone attorney Kgosietsile Ngakaagae has taken to social media to mobilise support to oppose another extension of the State of Emergency, should the President seek it.
“Let’s join hands and resist the arrogance and the contempt for democracy by President Masisi’s cabinet,” Ngakaagae rallies Batswana in his campaign.
“Let’s be ready to receive the SSG sjamboks, and to lie down on the roads.” “Let’s be ready for the water cannons and trucks. Without physical violence, let’s rise for the defence of our democracy and our constitution. Our MPs are… watery stools. There is no hope they can do anything.”
The lone activist says the country must begin a dialogue on passive resistance to the SoE: “We must discuss how this tyranny can be resisted and defeated, through non-violent means,” he presses on. “This government must not rest until constitutional order is restored.”
Ngakaagae accuses Masisi of turning into a dictator and urges the nation to refuse to be ruled by one man by decree for two years.
At the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), spokesman Moeti Mohwasa says they are aware of growing public calls for demonstrations. “Naturally, the UDC is on the side of any initiative that is for justice, democracy, transparency and good governance” he told The Botswana Gazette.
“It is therefore a given that we will associate ourselves with such a call. Yes, in principle we are in support of the calls. To us public demonstrations are important because they allow for mass participation and freedom of expression.”
Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the BDP, Mpho Balopi, says he cannot say whether the President will seek another extension or not. “Such a matter has not yet been discussed or suggested by the health workers,” Balopi said in an interview.
Asked about mobilization for demonstrations on social media, he answered: “That is very unfortunate. Our belief is that the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed unfavourable conditions on us all. We must unite in this fight rather than against each other. We do take advice and reflect on suggestions, but the President makes decisions on the circumstances before him, some of which we may not be privy to.”
In the end, Balopi added, the judiciary remains the final arbiter in protests under a State of Emergency.