Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A little bit of modesty can save Botswana’s opposition!

Botswana’s opposition political parties have an uncanny way of diverting attention away from themselves.

Self-pity and playing blame games are just a few of their refined pastimes.
These are just some of the obsessions that have so far delayed them from confronting and ultimately owning up to their shortcomings.

Unless opposition parties in Botswana change their old tactics of glossing over their internal problems and shifting blame, they are not about to be taken seriously any time soon.

It is sad that instead of working hard to revamp, and in some cases re-brand themselves, they have chosen to make it their life’s work to play victim and blame everyone else but themselves for their own follies and shortcomings.
Selfishness and dishonesty are the two defects currently driving down our opposition parties.

But for all their current weaknesses, it is not too late for the opposition in Botswana to once again be looked at as an option rather than a bad joke they currently are.

For all their deficiencies, it is not too late for them to stand up and answer the call to become alternative power centers to the BDP.

Personally, as a believer in the dictates of liberal democracy, I draw solace from the ramblings highlighted in this week’s headlines that there is a dawning realisation between the BCP and BNF that as much as they hate each other, they also need each other.

By whatever name, any form of cooperation between the BNF and BCP would do wonders for Botswana’s reputation as a functional democracy.
Which takes us to a short overview of each of the party’s strengths and weaknesses.

The biggest reason why people are disillusioned with the BNF is not Otsweletse Moupo’s blunder-strewn leadership, though that certainly plays a significant role.

The real problem that repels people away and puts them off whenever BNF is mentioned is that for close to ten years now their leaders have concentrated all of their time and energy exclusively towards fighting each other. I cannot think of one single organization in Botswana that has consistently failed to manage success like the BNF.

I cannot think of one single organization that has consistently failed to usurp and utilize opportunities when they arise such as the BNF.

Even more, I cannot immediately think of any organization that is terrible in its handling of internal conflicts such as the BNF.

There is no doubting Moupo’s grasp of political ideology; there is no doubting the man’s sincerity and humility. The BNF leader’s self-effacing demeanour is a treasure in politics.

But as Moupo would be the first to attest, leadership requires much more than ideological commitment.
Leadership entails imagination, competence, breadth, depth and above all selflessness.
Those are cold realities, which regrettably the BNF leadership seems to be blissfully unaware of.

It is exactly because too much blood has been spilled inside the BNF kraal in the last ten years or so that voters have come to think of the party in the same breath as a blood-stained piece of rag.

How in this modern era would it be possible for voters to be attracted to a quarrelsome outfit, under the control of a few individuals who are unable to outgrow their selfish interests?
The BCP is not much better.

Admittedly, the BCP has world-class, business like leadership that spurns all forms of internal confrontations.
It is an irony though that the party’s success over the last ten years seems to be its biggest undoing.

The BCP success has made them arrogant leading them to believe, against all evidence, that they can, on their own, beat the BDP.

This is, of course, as crazy as it is unrealistic. While BNF is kept down by greed, the BCP is weighed down by hubris.

It’s a lapse of judgment that can only bring tears in the opposition ranks.
Under the present circumstances, our best bet could only be that we are headed for a tragedy.

The differences keeping these two parties apart have nothing to do with the models of cooperation favoured by either.

It is all about greed and hubris.
By clinging to abstract use of political terminologies instead of fighting for their political survival, the BNF and BCP have done more than enough to illustrate just how delusional they can be.

By failing to see through the woods just what threat the BDP under Ian Khama poses for them, the BNF and BCP have gone a long way to show just how defunct their political antennas have become.

For them to continue hoping that as disparate entities they stand a chance against the BDP is like a dog barking at the moon.

If not for anything else, the BCP and the BNF should cooperate in the realization that, for the first time in Botswana’s history, the ruling BDP is efficiently, and I venture to say, ruthlessly run by a man who has nothing but absolute contempt and scorn for them.

If there ever were any doubts on the possibility of a total extermination of opposition in the coming general elections, events of the recent two months have comprehensively laid those doubts to rest.

Ian Khama is purposefully and with great swagger marching towards absolute victory.

With adamant resolve, the man is taking the battle to the opposition front, including to their traditional strongholds in the urban areas.
The BNF and the BCP would do themselves a greater favour by deciphering that all the welfare initiatives recently announced by Khama will stir a popular anti-opposition sentiment while also depicting them as collectively irrelevant.

The twisted logic prevailing inside the BNF and the BCP can only further drive Botswana along the path of a de facto one-party state.

Only cooperation (however loosely wrought) will restore faith and amend what has turned out to be a reprehensible alienation of either party’s support base.

That will, however, be difficult unless either party swallows some pride and starts showing a bit of selflessness.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.