Rre Ntuane’s return to BDP
by Lediretse Molake
Imagine a situation where you belong to a certain society. You have elected people to control the keys to the food locker. You are hungry and they do not give you food. One of them resigns from the leadership and yet you are still not given food. He later rejoins the leadership. What possible reason do you have to believe that now you will be given food? In my view the only logical conclusion to make is that the presence of the one who left and then rejoined the leadership is irrelevant to your being given food. Why should it be of any concern to you that he has returned?
After all he did not resign to ensure that you were given food. If he resigned with others, and they try to forge a new way of distributing food, why should his return be indicative of any inability to forge new ways of distributing food? A return to old school Barataphathi only means an inability on the part of the returnee to see the world in a different light. After all it was under old school Barataphati that processes were set in place that have resulted in huge unemployment of our young and the economy being in the hands of foreigners. It is not a sign of pragmatism but a sign of inability to accept that as Botswana calls for a new economic order it must itself change the way it treats its own people.
In my view the return of Rre Ntuane to the BDP illustrates a triumph of Barataphati understanding of crude survival over that of former military generals. Rre Ntuane will never have returned to the BDP unless he got reassurance that a solution had been found to Rre Khama’s power. The sad thing is that Rre Khama has contributed to the solution. His approach to power is such that any sign that he is unable to deal with certain individuals sends a strong signal that he is not as powerful as some may have thought he was.
Rre Khama’s inability to reign in Rre Merafhe and Rre Molale has sent strong signals to those who would otherwise have feared him that he is not invincible. The recent irrational redeployment of top civil servants sent a strong signal that Rre Molale can do as he pleases with senior civil servants, and that Rre Khama is unable to control him or supports decisions that have nothing to do with delivery. Most importantly it sent a signal to those within the BDP who feared him that there are limits to his power.
His interpretation of the constitution in a manner that suggests that he has very wide powers, has unfortunately provided contrast to his inability to reign in Rre Merafhe and Rre Molale. People wonder why if he is so powerful he cannot reign in Rre Merafhe and Rre Molale? The only logical explanation is that they seem to be confident that he cannot make any moves against them. The source of the confidence is irrelevant for purposes of those within the BDP who feared him in the past. They just know that he is being destroyed by his chosen deputy.
Both Rre Merafhe and Rre Molale are relatively advanced in age. This suggests that Rre Khama has surrounded himself with people who have nothing to lose in terms of career progression. They will be more inclined to be resentful of any past slights that he may have done to them and use their positions to get back at him. If you want to revenge, what better time than to show the most powerful man on the land that you can do as you please under his watch.
I believe that the BDP will not allow Rre Khama to choose his successor. He has made too many mistakes in relation to use of his power. He has made a few individuals rich, but they are just consumers of his power. They do not add to or replenish his power. Those who advice him have likewise been consumers of his power or have lacked the foresight to know that the deployment of power sends powerful signals as to its real effectiveness.
The BDP seems to be at peace not because Rre Khama has done away with factions but because the Barataphati have figured out that he has no successor who can stand on his own. Rre Merafhe was a key member of the A-Team but he is old and has done a lot of harm to Rre Khama. Effectively Barataphati have realized that Rre Khama is left with six years at the most, and that those who are with him do not really have the political muscle to carry them forward. It is this realization that is at the heart of Rre Ntuane’s return.
One must also bear in mind that the BDP garnered only 52% of the popular vote in the last elections. There will be those within the BDP who will read this to suggest that Rre Khama has not really brought them a lot of luck. They will not openly say it, for it is not in their best interests to do so, but they will factor it into their future plans. He has not been able to resolve the intractable issue of youth unemployment. It is highly unlikely that he will do so in the near future.
His relationship with the public service is also problematic. If he gives a directive that tractors be bought, the relevant officers go ahead and buy the tractors. They do not budget for the fuel and the drivers. The sellers of tractors also do not bother to advice on these requirements because doing so will demonstrate the true cost, and may lead to application of the “there is no money” mantra. We then have a public service that limits its task to the letter of the directive combining with the profit motive of the tractor in a way that frustrates his efforts.
Rre Khama’s reading of his powers is wide whilst the public servants’ reading of his directives is strict and narrow. The only explanation for this conflict is that the public service disagrees with what he is doing. It also suggests that the public service wants him to give so much detail that when things go wrong there can be no doubt as to who is to blame. One must here note that his chief advisor in regard to directing the public service is none other than Rre Molale. Why does he allow issuing of directives that do not encompass the full scope of what is to be done?
There is a lot of dissatisfaction about promotions within the public service under Rre Molale. The same obtained when he was at the head of the public service under Rre Mogae. This suggests a carryover from long back. His retention by Rre Khama signals to those whom he has not been too keen to promote, that their misfortune will continue under Rre Khama. These people have friends within the Barataphathi of the BDP. They have no reason to deploy their skills if the credit will be taken by less deserving but favoured people. Most importantly their continued misery signals to Barataphathi that Rre Khama is unable to create room for those that can help him succeed. This can only be possible if he is not as powerful as people thought he was.
I often tell people that the problem with Mugabe is that he forgot that Zimbabwe has a biological solution to his intransigence. This is a solution that nature gave to the people of Zimbabwe. There is nothing that Mugabe can do about it. It will be deployed without any action on the part of the Zimbabweans. Likewise Rre Khama in his use of power forgot that time is a solution for those opposed to the manner in which he uses power. Their confidence is fortified by the realization that he will fail because of his alienation of certain sectors of the public service through the actions of Molale.
When government stopped assisting Letshego to recover loans directly, the company very quickly found a solution to go around this. This ability to fight back coupled with inability to deal with Merafhe and Molale demonstrate that Rre Khama has limited ability to ensure his own success. For how long can people follow a man who has so much power but is unable to use it to ensure his own success? Making a few people rich is not a sign of success. Why would people follow a leader who for ten years knew he was going to be president, but in four years as president he finds himself unable to reign in his Vice President and his head of the public service?
There is an expression “ with friends like these who needs enemies”. Rre Ntuane and the Barataphathi have figured out that they need not fight Rre Khama. Rre Merafhe and Rre Molale will do the job for them. They have so far done a very good job of destroying him. The destruction of Rre Khama is not however a solution to our problems. There is still a need and an opportunity to formulate an alternative.