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15 Nov 2015

Dramatic as it may have all seemed to be, don’t read too much into what happened in Parliament on Thursday when there was primary school-like confusion as to who the candidate of Specially Elected Member of Parliament really was.


The real story had long played itself outside of the Parliament floor.


The centerpiece of that story is that the balance of power is shifting away from President Ian Khama.


What has been playing out outside Parliament has all the hallmarks of a leader whose stay in power has been caught up by what the Americans call a lame duck presidency.


A growing number of ruling party members of parliament now see Khama, not as an electoral but rather as a dyed-in-the-wool political liability.


They not only dislike him, but are for the first time willing to defy him to his face. The president’s ability to hold the party together is now is disarray.


For the ten years that he was Vice President, Ian Khama enjoyed power and prestige that eclipsed Festus Mogae who was president at the time.


One newspaper uncharitably characterised Mogae as a shrinking President. Other commentators referred to him as a President who was in office but not in power.


That dreadful moment has now caught up with Ian Khama – the master tactician.


He tried to delay it for as long as is humanly possible: And almost succeeded, we have to point out.


But every president it is a moment in history that is always inevitable. For some it comes early on, for others it comes at the tail end.


Whatever the case might be, it is the most pain moment for any president.


It is a moment when Presidents become irrelevant. It is a time when people including those closest to the President begin to shift their attention away from the President.


For Khama, matters have gotten worse than they could ever have been for Mogae.


A good number of politicians are beginning to accept the erstwhile unthinkable that Khama is part of their problem.


By questioning and threatening to openly defy the President on his choice of Specially Elected Member of Parliament, there is now irrefutable proof that the clear-sighted within ruling party members of parliament have started to discount Khama as part of the future. For a man who all his political life has known himself to be the centre of gravity this development must be emotionally devastating for president Khama.




But of course there will always be those who are caught in the shiftless sands of history.


The Speaker of Parliament, Gladys Kokorwe is one such individual.


She is caught up in history. While her party colleagues are looking up to the future, the Speaker is hanging up to history.


As many of us had feared, the arrival of Gladys Kokorwe into the scene has done nothing but bad.


Her arrival has reversed the moderate gains that were beginning to set during the days of Margaret Nasha.


Even during Nasha’s reign, the independence of Parliament was in no manner assured.


But some progress had become discernible.


With Kokorwe in charge, Parliament has once again been truly delivered back into the State Presidency as one of the departments in that ministry.


The Speaker is shamelessly allowing herself to be a chief matron of efforts in Parliament to resuscitate the ruling party.


To be fair to Kokorwe, she is in all manner doing the job she was brought in to do.


After the October General Elections last year, the ruling party was in a state of harrowing collapse.


Lest we forget, Kokorwe was drafted in as Speaker following what was seen as unwelcome and brazen efforts by Parliament to break away from the long shadow of the executive.


A decision had long been taken at the ruling party nerve centre that Nasha had to be replaced – whatever it took.


Quite rightly, Nasha had been identified as the spiritual light of all endeavours to create a Parliament with teeth and a backbone.


Under her stewardship, Parliament bad set up reforms including lining up brave laws that were on course to changing relations between the House and the executive.


In came Gladys Kokorwe, with a multipronged brief that included wrapping back history to where it had been before.


Kokorwe was also tasked with taking the steam out of opposition benches by stifling them of oxygen including setting up capricious rules the overall impact of which has been to kill the flow of debate inside Parliament. It is a wrong strategy predicated on base and very low principles.


In a way, Kokorwe is succeeding.


Tragically, it does not seem to matter to her that what she is doing to Parliament is coming at high costs to her own personal reputation.


She seems to somehow think that she can always get her reputation back later. Her first job for now is saving the BDP.


This immensely self-indulgent undertaking on the office of the Speaker is both sad and tragic.


It is also mistaken.


While institutions like Parliament are on the balance infinitely important, the truth of the matter is that the general public has long lost hope on the ability of such institutions to effect change.


More than ever before, ordinary people, especially the young are emboldened by a near righteous belief that any meaningful change in the running of their country will not be a bonanza coming from the establishment. Such change has to come from outside the power structures.


The truth of the matter is that the crescendo of popularity enjoyed by opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change is more a result of circumstances outside the making of UDC leadership, as any deliberate efforts by the party.


The UDC leader enjoys one strategic advantage which is also not of his making.


Duma Boko has come onto the stage at a time of chronic decline of the ruling party.


The dynamics currently defining our public discourse have thus much to do with the ruling party than with UDC and Duma Boko.


In short by assigning Gladys Kokorwe to weaken opposition by disrupting their lives inside Parliament, the ruling party strategists are simply barking up a wrong tree.


At the end of his State of the Nation Address last week, President Khama called on his audience to look up to God for rain.


He was right. He should also have implored the all merciful to as well shine His blessings on himself and his ruling party!

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