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Botswana’s electoral campaigns are no doubt providing a political theatre to all the players.
At face value, almost all political parties are in turmoil.
Stagnation, paralysis and confusion run deep.
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party is fighting to find traction.
The creation of a new party, Botswana Patriotic Front has totally disemboweled the BDP.
They look disoriented and even gobsmacked.
So far they are putting on a strong face, but no doubt it hurts.
The BDP needs revival and reinvention.
For many it looks tired and lacking in vitality. An agenda predicated on past glories can hardly be inspiring enough for multitude of young people looking for something new.
Past politics of patronage have eroded and compromised the party’s long term electability.
The party has significantly shed politics of patronage, but then struggled to replace it with anything new.
The party needs to quickly find a new narrative if it is to parry and counter the growing opposition threat.
Frankly there are just too many gaps inside the BDP strategy that could very easily be exploited were it not for the ineptitude of our opposition.
The BPF, substantively led by former President Ian Khama will not win elections, but they hope to split the votes big enough to harm the BDP.
There does not seem to be a clear strategy on the part of the BDP to deliver a body blow on Khama and his BPF.
Things are not at all easy for Umbrella Democratic Change.
A few early court victories by their leader have led to a lot of breast beating.
There are more bigger battle still coming.
Deep down, the party is holding its breath, praying that in the end things will all fall in place, like they did in the last elections.
This election was supposed to be a shoo-in for them.
Yet it is proving much more difficult than the previous one.
The party finds itself unsure if they will even be contesting elections as a unit.
It has been marooned by a spate of legal cases.
After a few victories, their leader is still in court, fighting a number of cases all aimed at stopping his party from contesting.
Like a firefighter, must be how Duma Boko often feels these days.
It however does not look like all his legal disabilities have sapped him of his energy.
He surges on!
The UDC does not have formal structures, but it retains some dynamism spread around from people who seem too desperate for change.
It might end up with Boko shouting “hurrah”. But then it might also end up in tears.
His UDC has been competing with the BDP for control of the country.
In the meantime the fantasy laden world occupied by politicians has drifted farther and farther away from the voter.
The new level of disconnect is discomforting enough.
On both ends of the spectrum, politicians are fueling radical views; each hoping to earn more voters.
This only adds to public mistrust of politicians.
Ineptitudes, naivety, lies and double talk are all in plain sight.
These have made the voter acutely squeamish.
It’s a real sea change from the past.
It’s all a direct product of insincere terms of engagement by the politicians.
Politicians that used to sparkle with honesty and love of public duty have all but disappeared.
It does not seem to matter to them that public appetite for a lying politician or that one who is economic with the truth is fading away.
Politicians are struggling with little success to sell honest ideas to a reluctant voter who has grown increasingly skeptical.
They are resorting to snake oil.
When a politician says he will introduce P3000 minimum wage, without saying anything about the accompanying matrix on productivity, then you know we are attending a class of voodoo economics.
For a workforce eager for a salary hike, such a minimum wage provides guarantees for a long sought paradise.
We are building our castles in the sand. It really resembles a house of cards; nothing more, nothing less.
We should may be pause and take stock of all of the attendant risks that so often accompany populist generalizations.
Politicians think they are in charge of events, of the narrative and of the story. The truth though is that they have lost the plot.
The voter knows the truth, what can work and what passes for political garbage.
But the same voter is also held hostage by fear for the unknown.
All the politicians do is to tap into that fear.
If that is true, then snake oil politicians are about to be dealt a deadly body blow.
We need a new political ecosystem based on trust.
For politicians intimately wedded to untruth telling, this is an uphill struggle.
And for the most part the future looks bleak.
The rearguard undercurrents to all these is that Botswana is being sold in advance.
There is no shortage of businessmen lining up to get a stake. And there is only one route towards that stake; that route passes through financing a political campaign.
Politicians cannot and should not be entrusted with power on the strength of a hole-riddled lie they repeatedly spew out – no matter how often they do.