Thursday, June 20, 2024

A landslide victory will be detrimental for Botswana

Very grim questions of freedom, law and liberty await this country should the ruling party attain the 70% share of the electoral vote that they are spending sleepless nights working to achieve.

As things stand, it is extremely significant and politically symbolic that BDP’s popular vote stands at an embarrassing 52%.
Not only is this a sign of weakness, it also means the leaders know inside their minds that there are many lingering questions about the strengths of their legitimacy.

This calls for consensus building and an adoption of consensual politics.
That is good for us the ordinary mortals because it makes the business of governing this country not much enjoyable for the rulers.
They may not be saying it publicly, but the BDP is led by a team of very brilliant and shrewd tacticians and strategists who look at their declining popularity and blush that their legitimacy is not only questionable and suspect but also deeply shameful.

More than many of us, they know that going forward the fountain of legitimacy and, by extension, patronage will be a solid mandate hovering around the 70% mark of the popular vote.
We should deny them the luxury of the 70% mark and force them on a course of some retreat.
Hence our best weapon as voters this time around is to exercise extreme caution.

It is not in anybody’s interest that a government that is so plainly struggling to prove its democratic credentials should be awarded a comprehensively overwhelming mandate.
Denying them a massive goodwill at the polls will hopefully play out on their conscience, petrifying them and forcing them to be extra careful in their reforms, in the full knowledge that as a party and government they lack the solid mandate and moral legitimacy to do as they please.

After a lot of soul searching, and resigned to fact that it has become a given that the BDP will win the October General Election, I have come to the conclusion that the only pragmatic and most forward looking weapon available to us as voters would be to deny that party a landslide victory.
Very rarely do landslide victories produce well run, compassionate and accountable governments.
Landslide victories often produce and entrench arrogance.

Such victories promote and enhance deep rooted levels of unaccountability and insensitivity.
Thus we should be careful not to give too much legitimacy and by extension authority only to regret it a few months after the General Election.
As things stand, this government has produced enough convulsions to make us wary of the future.

The way the decision to change sponsorship policy for tertiary education was handled should serve as a scary glimpse of things still to come.
As a practicing journalist, I have experienced firsthand the ruthlessness of this government’s negotiating tactics.

The Media Practitioners Act has laid bare their glaring predatory ambitions on the freedom of the press.
People in the alcohol industry speak fearfully of this government’s demonic determination to get things done its way, no matter what!

At an internal level, memories are still fresh with how the long serving member and cabinet minister Daniel Kwelagobe was recently brashly set aside.

The list goes on and I can only fear for the worst.
The media, together with parliamentary independence and sanctity, are only the first victims.
It will not be long before ministers deliberately flex their muscles on the judiciary.

It is all a part of the project.
The prospect of the BDP increasing its share of the popular vote and, by extension, enhancing its mandate to run this country should therefore be spurned by all account.

Once again, as a rule of thumb, landslides rarely culminate in good government.

I may be wrong, but it is my strong feeling that Batswana would live to rue a decision to extend a comprehensive landslide victory to the BDP should they do so at the coming elections.
President Ian Khama is an overly popular man, but as a country we should not allow our enthusiasm for him to warp our judgment on matters of national interest.

The only way available for Batswana to stand up to this government is to deny them a landslide victory at the polls until such time that it has not only earned but also proved its democratic and liberal credentials.

I say this because while currently the party enjoys a little over 50% of the popular vote, their general conduct would lead a visitor to believe that the ruling party has anything around 85% of the national vote.
This is because they impose and hone a narrow message of discipline on everyone while simultaneously threatening to undo our past gains at liberty and freedom.


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