Word reaches Mr S of a bizarre story emerging from Africa. Sir Roger Gale, king of the Tory discontents, is embroiled in an extraordinary war of words with the president of Botswana over allegations of corruption, hunting tourism and deliberate disinformation. Alongside bashing Boris and serving the good people of North Thanet, Sir Roger's interests include animal welfare, with the longtime backbencher being an ardent critic of big game trophy hunters.
Gale attacked Botswana's president Mokgweetsi Masisi last Saturday in an online debate for committing ‘vandalism’ by allowing hunting tourism in his country. The former Tory vice-chair described hunting as ‘murder’ and implied that Masisi personally benefitted financially from it, in an online discussion hosted the animal-rights MojoStreaming website. Speaking about the country's short-lived ban on hunting tourism in the 2010s, Gale said:
“ In Botswana there was a change of government, as you know, and the president who introduced the ban was ousted. And for wholly personal commercial interests, an incoming president [Masisi] then broke the ban, and that has damaged the wildlife population, not improved it. That was an act of political vandalism and it’s a great sadness that it happened.
After Gale's opponent, Jens-Ulrik Høgh, refused to discuss this point, saying 'That is some accusation, ok, I won't go into that because I don't have the details', Sir Roger shot back 'Well, unfortunately I do.' But yesterday the Botswana government hit back strongly, releasing a furious statement denouncing Gale's comments in the harshest possible terms. The country's deputy permanent secretary William Kemotho Sentshebeng says Gale’s attack is ‘a veiled attack on the Botswana State’. In a two page public letter Sentshebeng declared:
“Such a frivolous, irresponsible and emotive use of language to attack the integrity of the Botswana Government’s sovereign decisionmaking, is an act of deliberate abuse of the power of mass communication to hide the real special interests of photojournalism behind the disinformation.
He also pointed out that the president was elected to office in free and fair elections in October 2019 and added that claims Masisi has a 'personal interest of financial gain' in controlled hunting 'is not only blatantly untrue, but also reveals ignorance about the rigorous processes through which hunting licenses and quotas are allocated.'
Still, not the first time a Tory backbencher's attacks on a head of government have fallen flat, eh Sir Roger?