A democracy of unprincipled politicians; a rejoinder
by Moncho Moncho
In his article of June 24-30, 2012, Dr. Agreement Jotia came out with guns blazing, irked by the recent unprecedented floor crossing that has gripped the country by politicians whom he accuses of changing “their ideology, colour, political jargon and ultimately end up appearing rather foolish before the eyes of the very people they are supposed to be leading”. He exudes so much fury and throws salvos at what he considers unprincipled and dishonourable political leaders. One cannot help but sympathise with his frustration in the face of the fast changing political landscape manifesting in what he considers betrayal of the followers and or the nation.
It is during times like these that the nation yearns for informed and balanced (not ranting and raving) guidance from academics in particular. Academics are no ordinary mortals on these matters and therefore their verdict, out of anger or otherwise, will most likely strengthen perceptions, wrong or right. It is interesting that suddenly opposition politicians are viewed as having developed debilitating greed and incorrigible lack of principle, and even more interesting is that this became an issue on the backdrop of the BMD formation. The BDP split, coupled with public sector strike duped the opposition to buy into a hastily cobbled umbrella with the hope that it would expedite regime change. The BMD, buoyed by overwhelming goodwill became cheeky and started punching way above its weight to the chagrin of the BCP and some high profile BNF leaders who then started smelling a rat; hence the collapse of the initial cooperation talks as it became clear that all that glitters is not gold after all. The opposition admittedly was opportunistic (arguably positively) and misled the nation in believing that unity is easily achievable. The BMD, still a political green horn had too much aura which eventually harmed the opposition more than the ruling party, a development that underlies the BNF’s fissure and the current spate of high profile founding members retracing their steps to BDP. The infamous umbrella had all the hallmarks of a poisonous concoction; hence premature unity with BMD has proven to be to the detriment of the opposition. Instead of giving credit where it is due, Jotia cries for spilt milk, lumps and paints everybody with the same brush - this is intellectual dishonesty or it could well be lack of political pragmatism, denial or both.
Instead of being frustrated with the opposition, academics ought to pinch themselves for having failed to make voters appreciate that they are the fountain of power that politicians so much crave for (to hire and fire political misfits to sanctify the political discourse) or effectively guide and deliver a united opposition rather than pontificate from ivory towers as they are fond of doing. Nations get the politicians they deserve at any given time; the historic public sector strike, the collapsed umbrella talks and the criss-crossing of politicians are positive developments that will lay a strong foundation to ingratiate political leaders to principle and ideology going forward and should not cause despair, unmitigated frustration or anger. It serves as a rude and crude shakeup of the nation from a deep slumber to make this country a true, vibrant democracy. Floor crossing can be attributed to various factors including the strong desire to want to disentangle from self-serving, desire to jump onto the gravy train, craving for the limelight, to sacrifice and humane politics. It would be disingenuous to label tried and tested opposition cadres or parties opportunistic, unprincipled or hypocrites, let alone to view the problems besieging BMD, BNF and the umbrella as a pointer to the collapsing opposition. It is normal for any new political formation to go through baptism of fire, and that does not necessarily signal its demise, it may triumph but what is also true is that BMD was perceived the fastest growing party prematurely and it developed an exaggerated sense of self worth leading to the edifice crumbling.
Politics devoid of ideology is like a house built on the sand or, as Jesus would put it, seeds sown on shallow ground: they grow abnormally fast and tall just to wilt and die when the harsh conditions (which are inevitable) come. The reason BMD is haemorrhaging profusely is testimony to the fact that growth should not defy the rules of nature, even the genetically modified organisms should grow within time frames not markedly far from what otherwise nature would permit. BMD comprises those who were not happy with the Khama leadership style but not necessarily the BDP policies or ideology, the gullible (including academics) who joined and promoted or failed to inform the nation about what was most likely to befall them, and the innocent who follow the leader even if it is to hell and back again. Its founders were overwhelmed by the positive response and goodwill they received from the various quarters and became dangerously arrogant both during the negations and in turn made unreasonable demands which ultimately contributed to the collapse of the talks. The retreat to BDP of some of the BMD leaders undermines the credibility of the entire opposition, but mainly the umbrella and highlights yet another failure by academics to appropriately guide the masses during their hour of need. There was little wrong with the BMD behaviour which was to be expected coming from the ruling elite, spoiled brats if you wish, but a lot wrong with vesting so much goodwill, emotions and hope on an unknown entity with the resultant disappointment and frustration as the political tourists returned to their natural habitat as they could not adapt to their new and hostile environ which requires more sacrifices than rewards.