Opposition political parties in Botswana have equated the commander of the Botswana Defence Forces (BDF) Lieutenant-General Tebogo Masire to Zimbabwe’s Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba.
Masire has attracted the ire of opposition parties in that country after he reportedly accused them of inciting BDF officers to stage a mutiny during the recent public sector strike.
The commander also declared his allegiance to the ruling party in Botswana. Under the banner of the Opposition Collective in the National Assembly of Botswana, the opposition leaders said:
“General Masire of Botswana Defence Force seeks to emulate Brig General Douglas Nyikayaramba of Zimbabwe National Army.
“Botswana should be afraid; very afraid when a General Nyikayaramba clone emerges from the highest echelons of the BDF.
“General Masire seems to harbour a desire to emulate the actions of Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba of the Zimbabwe National Army who has stated that even if the MDC won elections in that country, the outcome will be rejected because they consider Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai a ‘national security threat.’
The parties said the behaviour of the BDF commander risked destroying the “hard-earned reputation of the BDF, cultivated over time since inception in 1977”.
“We do not recall any instance in the history of this country when a BDF commander has ever assumed such a partisan political posture,” they said in a joint statement.
“Even when the current President and his deputy were in charge of the BDF, they always sought to protect the integrity of the army as a professional, apolitical force which had no business dabbling in party politics.
“General Masire is free to curry political favour with the President , but that should not extend to compromising the founding ethos and values of the army in a democratic Republic,” they said.
“As the shifting sands of time point to a change of government in 2014, the nation should ask itself:
When the inevitable happens, and the old order yields place to new, will General Masire accept the democratic verdict of the people?
We call on the nation to exercise vigilance and keep a watch on people like General Masire who have no inhibitions whatsoever in undermining the integrity of key state institutions in pursuit of self-advancement.”