How to get UDC back on track

15 Apr 2019

"UDC victory is by no means inevitable." Almost like a mantra this is what Umbrella for Democratic Change leader Duma Boko needs to say every morning when he wakes up and every evening when he goes to bed.

The reason is simple.

BNF of which Boko is also the leader happens to be the linchpin of the UDC.

And as such there is simply no how the UDC can win state power when the Botswana National Front is not electable.

And as things stand the BNF is not electable.

To put it more bluntly the BNF is in disarray.

The BNF needs to undergo some huge and painful surgery.

Top of the list,  for the BNF to be electable is to shed the thuggish plumage it has acquired since 2014.

A one time revolutionary political movement the BNF is currently held hostage by a few voices who seem to believe they will insult their way to state power.

They seem to genuinely believe that they are more BNF than everybody, that they are the true custodians of BNF principles.

They are wrong.

These thugs, few in number, but shrill and crude enough to shout everybody down have literally taken control of the BNF.

This has come at a great cost to the BNF.

The party has lost its dynamism.

It has also lost the pluralism that was for so long a vital part of its identity.

And that is not all.

The party has become immensely polarised.

The upshot of all these is that the natural base of the BNF has simply walked away in disgust - scared but also appalled at how their party has been turned into a slum-like outfit.

For BNF to win power it needs to regain public decency that will attract a groundswell of people back to it.

These are people who simply vote but are not in any way political activists or card carrying.

At the moment these people are turned off by

Such posture has been a turn off for more decent people who know how government operates, especially the retired public servants.

Governing parties need to be broadly decent, less tribal and less sectoral.

To win state power the BNF needs once again to become a mainstream party.

Yet the BNF has since 2014 been going the opposite direction.

The party finds itself under the clutches of a subculture-like mob that discourages and spurns inner-party debate.

This mob is hostile to alternative views.

Armed with their epithets and the social media they seem convinced that nothing in the world is impossible.

Even the BNF old guard that sacrificed a lot for the party before these thugs were born is out of bounds when it comes to hurling insults.

These are the people who are making political weather inside the party.

They are the people who are rendering the BNF a fringe party that only appeals to people who have siege mentality.

Some of them claim to be political firebrands, mimicking and parroting Julius Malema who they look up to as their hero.

But unlike Malema they lack innate ability to read the public mood.

Some of them claim to be political populists in the mould of the Western illiberal politics sweeping across Europe and the Americas.

Yet they seem unable to choose targets for their anger. So in that sense they are rebels without a cause which by itself makes them all the more dangerous.

Not many people today know who the BNF chairman is for example. Not many people know who the BNF treasurer is. Not many people know who the BNF deputy secretary general is. Yet everybody knows by first name who the kingpins of this vituperative mob are even as these people do not hold any official positions in the party.

Tolerance matters in politics. Very much the same way that love and emotional capacity do in families.

Which leads me to wonder just where are the BNF leaders and the elders in all this state of anarchy.

Is everybody too scared to raise their voice and call for sanity?

Too often the BNF resembles a house where children have been left alone.

This stone throwthrowing mob often claim to be doing so in defence and on behalf of the leader.

It might very well be so!

But is that kind of behaviour in Duma Boko’s interest? I doubt it. That is if he truly wants to become a Head of State.

It is time somebody is brave enough inside the BNF to demand that the party goes mainstream again - where it belongs.

Of course it comes at the risk of being vilifi ed, bullied and even publicly insulted.

But it’s something worth doing.

If not for BNF then at least for democracy of this country.