BDP must go for a Compromise

21 Jan 2019

By Kealeboga Killer Mkhwanazi Jameson

Scholars in the area of Political Science posit that ‘a political party is an organized group of people, often with common views, who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. The party agrees on some proposed policies and programmes, with a view to promoting the collective good or furthering their supporters' interests’.

That said, it is common knowledge that the supporters for which the political Party seeks to further their interests, have contesting views with regards to what their political party seeks to do for them. The same applies to a political party, which can also have contrasting and divergent views internally on certain policy issues, let alone the approach to governing. This is as a result of what psychologists term ‘individual differences’. According to Woodworth, R.S. and Marquis, D.G., “Individual differences are found in all psychological characteristics physical, mental abilities, knowledge, habit, personality and character traits.” It is therefore a given that there will always be internal contestations within political Parties.

A typical example is what is currently trending in the United Kingdom, being the contestation between the Eurosceptics and the Pro-Euro.  Eurosceptics hold the belief that integration undermines national sovereignty and the nation state, whereas Pro-Euros favour European integration and membership of the European Union. The two leading political parties, the Conservatives and Labour are both having challenges controlling and maintaining peace within their ranks occasioned by the inherent contradictions between Eurosceptics and Pro-Euros internally. 

The above scenario corroborates the viewpoint by Mark Scarborough, Post-graduate Student of Political Theory, who pens as follows: “From a philosophical perspective, it is unreasonable to assume that a group of people with diverse views and interests would ever come together and all converge on the same policy or idea. An assumption of writers like Rawls and Habermas was that if people were exposed to same information and logic, they would inevitably form a ‘rational consensus’ and come to think the same thing. However this does not bare fruit in reality. As such, democracy is simply a complex bargaining process between competing interests and so forming compromises, rather than seeking convergence, is the only realistic option”.

Politics should therefore be seen as a particular means of resolving conflict by compromise, conciliation and negotiation. In support of compromise theory, Jock Campbell notes that Compromise is an unavoidable consequence of democracy. Give and take is the name of the game. Some arguments you win, some you lose. What should be understood about compromise in a democracy, is that just because you might have had to compromise on a desire today, that desire may be served later as others compromise and bring the right circumstances in which the majority see opportunity to deliver your desire, either in full or in part. Thus democratic compromise is a lesson in patience and diplomacy… two of the best traits of any political animal”.

In the run up to the 2009 General Elections, the BDP did not heed calls for compromise whereas the proponents called on the Party to allow then Central Committee to continue for another term, invariably taking them through the General Elections. Worst still, the Central Committee elections were taking place in the same year of Elections. Proponents of Compromise were alive to the fact that Central Committee elections were divisive and destructive to the BDP. They furthermore argued that the BDP must not go for Central Committee elections so as to devote time and resources to the General Elections campaign. To support their argument, they made reference to Arrows Impossibility theorem which holds that there are times in which majority voting may fail to yield a stable outcome.

This notwithstanding, the Anti-Compromise crusade did not want to hear anything about compromise citing the Party constitution. The BDP Central Committee Elections went ahead in Kanye amid great tension and rancor.  The “Barata Party” faction which had fielded Daniel Kwelagobe as the Chairperson emerged victorious, moreso that DK as he is affectionately called, was the incumbent Chair. DK had become the BDP Chair after Former President Lt General Seretse Khama Ian Khama ascended to become the President. Then Central Committee was dominated by the A-Team having won at Molepolole, with Jacob Nkate beating the Late Gomolemo ‘Sir G’ Motswaledi (MHSRIP) for the coveted position of Secretary General.

DK had become Party Chairperson after Former President SKI Khama, who was then Vice_President and was working on a transition to the Presidency, had summoned the A-Team and let it known that DK had made a plea to be considered for Chairperson, after-all he will be quitting active politics. At first the A-Team disagreed with SKI Khama on the appointment of DK as Chair, arguing that DK could not be trusted. But SKI Khama then implored the A-Team to make a choice between having one of the A-Team members becoming the Vice-President or the Chairmanship. SKI Khama’s argument was that he could not have the A-Team dominating the Party Chairpersonship and the Vice Presidency. The A-Team settled for the Vice Presidency, after a long protracted all night discussion amongst themselves. 

DK’s Barati Phathi faction went on to win the Kanye Central Committee elections, with Sir G becoming the Secretary General to the chagrin and dismay of Former President SKI Khama. After the Central Committee elections, there were two centers of power, which destabilized the BDP under SKI Khama then. The President evoked his powers and suspended the Secretary General Sir G, and some Central Committee members. After an acrimonious court battle, the suspended members of the Central Committee and some of their legions, decided to resign from the BDP and formed the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The BMD aligned itself with the BNF going by the name Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), which went on to surprise many by winning 17 constituencies in the 2014 General elections.

Had the BDP understood that “Compromise is an unavoidable consequence of democracy, that give and take is the name of the game, and that some arguments you win, some you lose”, the Party would not have split. Compromise in this context should have come in the form of allowing then Central Committee members to continue unchallenged for another two (2) Years in the interest of the Party. One can rightfully argue that had the BDP Compromised then, the Party would not have split, there would have been no BMD, and the Opposition would not have won the 17 Parliamentary seats.

As aforementioned, politics should be understood as a particular way of reconciling differences through tolerance, respect, support and compromise. For this reason, the BDP will be served better by Compromising and allowing the current Central Committee to continue for the next 2 years, whereas they will also compromise by making it clear that they will not run in the 2022 Central Committee elections. The BDP will then be able to channel all their energies and finances to the general elections.

*Kealeboga Killer Mkhwanazi Jameson is a pseudonym. The true identity of the writer is known to the Editor