“Our members are referred to as ‘bana ba mmala wa sebilo’ or sons and daughters of the soil, deriving from the red earth,” says the Brother National Messenger, Onkemetse Clark, when explaining the unique bilingual nomenclature of the new Real Alternative Party (RAP). “All activists are also referred to as messengers or barongwa. Our slogan is Kitlano ke konokono and in English we say All for one, one for all.”
The slogan breaks into two when delivered in call-and-response fashion. Picture this RAP rally where the Brother National Messenger is holding both court and a microphone in his hand.
Brother National Messenger: Kitlaaaanoooo!
Messengers: Ke konokono
It would be remiss for a party called RAP to be tone deaf to the musicality of language ÔÇô that would account for the low-intensity rhyme scheme in Kitlano ke konokono and “principal principle.” The latter occurs in the constitution and is explained as “democratic centralism”, that being the right of members to criticize the leadership “where necessary.” The same constitution expects members to “combat” – abstain from participating in activities of political activity inconsistent with RAP’s core principles. In a country where aversion to deep reading is something of a national pastime, at least one duty expected of members will certainly be a tall order. One of the duties of a RAP member is “to constantly update and deepen her/his understanding of the national, continental and international political situation.”
What every party calls the central committee, is the central command team in RAP; the executive committee is the executing command team; the national congress is the national pitso; the advisory committee is the Amigos Messengers Team; the women’s, youth and student leagues are the women, youth and student messengers team; and elsewhere, Clark’s position is called secretary general. The party is led by Gaontebale Mokgosi, formerly of the Botswana National Front, and his official designation is National Chairperson.
RAP is stigma-conscious and in one of its pamphlets, communicates the message that “We refuse to be labeled as “out-of-school”, “school-dropouts”, “informal traders”, “casual labourers”, “low-wage workers”, “destitute” and all other derogatory names. As early as now, the party has announced aversion to “stigma-inviting” welfare programmes. On that list would be Ipelegeng, the labour-intensive public works programme that hires the poor on a rotational basis.
As a direct result of a national economy designed to create winners and losers, all that one too many Batswana are able to save is little more than phone numbers on their cellphones. RAP hopes to economically empower Batswana and go a step farther ÔÇô inculcate in them “a culture of saving” money in the bank. In the style of progressive political parties, RAP will be able to recall elected representatives who fall short of expectations.
While it targets Batswana, RAP should also be popular with illegal immigrants who came to Botswana to do little more than keep body and soul together. Its constitution says that it will “introduce just immigration policy that will end deportation of economic refugees.” One of the practical effects of that action would be the closure of the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants.
The Secretary for National and International Affairs appears to be one of the most demanding positions in the central committee. In addition to a host of other responsibilities, the type of brother or sister who holds this position is responsible for “increasing ground and space-based surveillance of terrorist resources, preparing to mitigate the effects of terrorism to limit negative effects as well as for exposing sponsors of terrorism to global scrutiny and isolation, shrinking the zones of chaos and terrorist sanctuary.”
RAP has established a working relationship with South Africa’s Black First Land First Movement, the militant political movement whose name summarises its principal objective. In a letter to Clark, BLF’s leader states that “BLF is, via its International Affairs Secretariat, committed to seeking and building solidarity with the oppressed people of other countries and their organizations so as to further our commitment to support and assist the oppressed nations in their cause for liberation.”