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The Botswana Democratic Party has undergone renewal from time to time occasioned by changes to its leadership. The first Leader of the Party was Sir Seretse Khama, followed by Sir Ketumile Masire, who was succeeded by HE Festus Gontebanye Mogae, and thereafter HE Lt General Seretse Khama Ian Khama. The aforesaid BDP leaders had their own different leadership styles, some bordering on autocratic leadership, others team leadership and others on cross-cultural leadership. Of course this is in line with the theory of leadership. On the driving seat now is none other than the versatile Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, whose ascendance has brought hope to Batswana in general after a hiatus.
We have as the BDP, experienced traits of autocratic leadership style centered on the ‘boss’. The said leader held all authority and responsibility and in many instances decisions were taken without consulting the Party structures nor the Party faithful. The decisions were reached and communicated to the Party faithful who were expected to implement promptly without interogation. The environment then had little or no flexibility and the nation became polarized and deeply divided, the end result being regression, for example the Country’s rankings in many indices nosedived, i.e. the Global Competitiveness Index, Ease of Doing Business, etc.
Enter MEK Masisi on stage. He comes across as a Democratic Leader and as well a Strategic Leader. In his leadership style, the Party faithful are involved in making decisions. Whilst the buck stops with him because he holds final responsibility, he is known to delegate authority to other people, and the key feature that defines him is that communication is active upward and downward. In displaying the Strategic leadership qualities, the President as Leader of the BDP is not limited to those at the top of the organization, but he is geared to a wider audience at all levels who want to contribute meaningfully and make a difference.
The aforesaid persona is indicative that President MEK Masisi emboldens ‘Therisanyo’. He has brought back that which Batswana are well known for, and have been yearning for. ‘Therisanyo’ is a necessary antecedent to a policy initiative, and it is a good measure of public opinion on a particular policy and at best Therisanyo brings government closer to the people. In his gallant quest for Therisanyo, President MEK Masisi is benefiting from the “wisdom of the crowd”, and Batswana are loving it and Batswana are loving him.
Pursuing ‘Therisanyo’ in earnest, President MEK Masisi has been addressing kgotla meetings countrywide to bring government closer to the people, the recent of which was in Mochudi “just yesterday” 10th of September. He made clear his intention and wish to see Kgosi Kgafela II back in the country, highlighting that “We all make mistakes but we have to forgive each other we are going to bring Kgafela II back and recognize him as a chief”. It was at the same meeting that Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Frans Van Der Westhuizen dropped a “Maitshwarelo Dabutha Bombshell” shattering the hopes of the Opposition in the Kgatleng East and West Constituencies when he announced that in consultation with President Masisi they agreed to lift the de-recognition of Kgosi Kgafela II for the sake of peace, stability, reconciliation and cooperation with Bakgatla and the Government.
This master stroke comes at the heels of his charm offensive to smoke the peace pipe with the Trade Unions, something which was anathema in the Leadership of the penultimate President Khama. The toxic relations between ‘Khama Lead BDP’ was wanting in strategic intent considering the importance of labour in the country’s polity. This is borne out of the fact that the quantity and quality of labour that individuals supply is an important factor in determining the economy’s level of production and rate of growth.
According to Labour Economists, economic growth is realized when people in the labour market are absorbed into jobs that use their skills to the best as well as pay them according to the value of the work produced leading to productivity. Labour productivity measures the hourly output of a country's economy and it determines the amount of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) produced by labour in an hour and hence labour markets play a central role in determining economic and social progress.
Now if the persistent reality is the toxic relations between labour as represented by the Trade Unions, and Government, the resultant effect is low levels of productivity, which in turn disrupts the economic growth of the country, leading to high unemployment rates. Furthermore, the country will not be able to attract the much needed Foreign Direct Investment because investors prefer a productive labour force; a situation that can not obtain when there are running battles between the tripartite (Trade Unions, employers and government).
With the President having made job creation his priority, the cordial relationship with Trade Unions is of paramount importance and he set the ball rolling during his inaugural address, when he made a commitment to fight unemployment by, among others, making job creation a priority: “My government is prepared to work with all those who are committed to this course. As the labour movement, your contribution is critical,”. He implored government and trade unions to work together anchored on mutual respect, partnership and recognition of the fact that they need each other to move Botswana forward.
In practicing what he preaches, President Masisi’s government has negotiated with BOSETU, BTU, BOPEU, BLLAHWU, BONU, & NALCGPWU, a salary increase of 10% and 6% in 2019 and another 10% and 6% increase in 2020. Even the Undisputed Father of Trade Unionism in Botswana Johnson Motshwarakgole has heaped praise on President MEK Masisi for being a progressive leader. “Babereki” should follow suite and give praise where it is deserved followed by a VOTE for President MEK Masisi in the upcoming General Elections for continued negotiations on improved conditions of service that are realistic, sustainable and founded on mutual respect.
These positive developments undertaken by President MEK Masisi are in the open for all to see. In light of the foregoing, I conclude once again as I will always, by urging Batswana to “vote for the New BDP and its New Leader MEK Masisi, who is on course to transform Botswana from a medium to a high income country; who is on course to create more jobs, especially amongst the youth”. “MASISI O A RE BITSA – RE A YA” – VOTE BDP.
Mr Kealeboga “Killer Mkhwanazi” Jameson