Unprecedented security for BDP Congress

15 Apr 2019

By Richard Moleofe

If you live anywhere along the Trans Kgalagadi highway, one would never have missed the security deployment that was organized for Kang where the BDP congress was held this past weekend. This was total Armageddon.

It was like our security apparatus were all out going down to the valley of the biblical Armageddon. The Bible describes this as the mother of all battles where all forces of the world shall descend on this valley to squire up with Israel (Revelation 16:16).

It is with a lot of irony that the New Jerusalem faction of the ruling BDP was met with fire and fury in the valley of Kang. Next to this village lies a large pan which defines the area as a valley.

It is often dangerous to make biblical comparisons out of political issues and incidents. One retired journalist likeness President Masisi to Moses. He says there are several pointers to his conclusion.

According to him, Moses was raised by Pharaoh for the sole purpose of ruling Egypt. He quotes incidents where Moses escaped death by God’s hand and providence. Ultimately Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land. A land marked by freedom of speech and of association.

I have never seen so much security effort directed to a single event in our country. But there was a valid reason for this firepower display. Intelligence had picked credible information regarding threat to our security by outside actors. We have heard the tapes and we have read in the papers. Indeed the threat was there and is still there.

When one takes into account the extent of the security detail around the president in Kang, one gets to understand that Pharaoh is not done with Moses yet. Present in Kang were all security men and women who bear arms from the military to game rangers.

But this was not the first time a ruling party congress had attracted the red security coding. Many are not aware that during the Kanye congress, then President Khama had ordered Botswana Defence Force to put their finest soldiers on standby. A strong team of Commandos was ordered to be on standby at Thebephatshwa Air Base. What was interesting was that their superiors could not define the threat for them. Khama had prepared the unimaginable for Daniel Kwelagobe and his Barataphathi faction who in any case prevailed.

The Commandos were readied to descend from the skies dropped by two Hercules C130 on the rocky village of Kanye. However, another team remained hidden within reach of the congress area. This was total madness for the president of the country and the party to have wasted such security resources on party affairs especially when there was no credible threat.

Looking at the political history of Botswana, from here going forward, every party congress will need to be given a serious security analysis in order that necessary security measures may be put in place if need be.

Going back to 1998, there was need for government to have provided the necessary level of security. By the time the Botswana National Front met in Palapye, the atmosphere had already been poisoned. By the time the delegates arrived at this event, most of them knew that they were going to end up slinging chairs at each other.

When Botswana Movement for Democracy went to Bobonong, one faction was already carrying a new name in their pockets. This is how incendiary the air was at that congress. For BMD, there had been a prelude of such violence taking place in the run up to the Bobonong congress. The party faithfuls had already exchanged blows in Gaborone where certain species of reptiles were used as weapons.

This time around, the opposition parties were looking forward to hearing about some skirmishes at the ruling party congress. They were cheering on from the side-lines as evidenced on social media. But the state resources prevented this from happening.

The security forces exist to protect citizens of Botswana and all who live in it. There is certainly selective provision of security and this does not sit well with our democracy. It is not that the government didn’t have pre-knowledge that trouble was brewing for Bobonong where there was going to be bloodshed.

With the BNF Palapye congress, government did not only have fore knowledge about the trouble that was brewing, they had in fact been involved in the fomentation of the tensions within the party.

Now that President Masisi has dealt a big blow to the New Jerusalem faction, he will need to consolidate our democracy as a country. We are all looking for a democracy were the opposition is respected and protected because without it there is no democracy.

The eyes of the world are upon us. It is now time for the president to focus on ruling the country now that he has overcome his biggest hurdle in his presidency. We have never seen it before in this country where the president of the country was under threat from within his own party.

In the next election, Masisi will be watched by an array of election observers. This will be his first general election as president and all he has to strive for is to give this country a clean election.

We should still expect heavy pounding from the international media who are propelled by the chief priest of the New Jerusalem faction who has pledged to do everything in his powers to make sure that his successor fails.

This means that the threat has not absolutely disappeared but we cannot afford to have a president who spends all his energy on countering his political opponents within his own party. He must now leave it to the party headquarters to do the low level fighting that we still expect to see.