Tuesday, October 20, 2020

After victory, it’s now time for Moupo’s reinvention

It has been a humiliating defeat for Kathleen Letshabo and her BNF faction. For them, it is a truly horrible setback. But, then, in many respects, it was a self inflicted defeat.

The Letshabo faction fought a sloppy and, in many ways, wretched campaign.
They played into Otsweletse Moupo’s hands by unleashing their underlings to hurl insults at him and repeatedly remind the nation of what a badly indebted man he is.

By making Moupo’s embarrassing difficulties such a key and central reason for their quest to topple him, the Letshabo faction effectively polished off whatever little credibility their message contained.

They also forfeited whatever little public sympathy was due to them.
To ordinary BNF members, it was a matter of unpardonable disgrace that Moupo was deserted by his erstwhile closest allies when he needed them most.

The Letshabo faction failed to grasp that, to ordinary BNF members, the biggest mistake that Moupo committed was not the web of a financial debt trap inside which he found himself engulfed, but rather that he held out and reached out to make peace with coup plotters for far too long.

Many of the issues raised by the Letshabo faction against Moupo were, to be fair, genuine.

The biggest mistake, however, was the shameless arrogance that was so much a feature of how their message was packaged.

Which is why it is wrong for them to continue saying the popular endorsement of Moupo at the special congress is another way of saying his problems are condoned.

The truth is that Moupo’s popular endorsement is a comprehensive way of communicating to the Letshabo faction that “you do not kick a man when he is down.”
It is true that at one point, overwhelmed by the scale of his problems, Moupo wanted to surrender to the Letshabo faction by way of a resignation.

To ordinary BNF members that would have been a terrible disaster by their party president.

Members clearly did not want Letshabo and her group to profit from Moupo’s troubles, especially after failing to defend the leader when he ran into troubles and needed support.
To the party rank and file, failure to defend Moupo was a clear cut case of black ingratitude given that almost the entire Central Committee at least from 2001 owed their office in one form or another to Moupo when he risked his career by defying the then party strongman, the late Kenneth Koma.

Clearly, the BNF members knew and did not condone Moupo’s blunders, but they held out as a comparatively much higher crime the unbridled bad faith and treachery by those who deserted him when they should have stood by him through thick and thin.
By his own admission, Moupo’s personal performance has been below standard.

The situation has not been helped by the fact that for too long he failed to impose discipline among his socialist friends in both the executive and the broader central committee.

He sold himself to a small coterie of friends who, unbeknown to him, had already set their sights beyond his leadership.
In the end, he was indebted and beholden to them, and when he ran into financial troubles they sensed it was time to finish him off.

I am strongly disposed to the thinking that had Moupo been quick to free himself from the bondage of this group, and demonstrated to them that he was his own man, the scale of internal rebellion and revolt against his leadership would have been minimal, short-lived, less sustained and half-hearted.

We should, however, give Moupo credit that for all his catalogued failures and weaknesses, he maintained calm and integrity in the face of sustained personal attacks against himself during the campaign in the buildup to the congress.

In the end, the BNF members sympathized with him in the face of a reckless persecution by the Letshabo sympathetic club of newspapers.

The abiding glory of Moupo was to preach restraint when everyone else in either camp seemed to take leave of their senses and went on a spree of leaking all sorts of confidential information.

In that way, he maintained honour and emerged with his integrity intact.

The man has been through a very difficult time indeed.

The true test of every individual is not how they handle success.

Rather, the true mettle comes out of how they handle failure and difficult situations such as was Moupo’s.

Looking at the scale of his problems ÔÇôthe glee and the frequency into which they were turned into a mantra and pastime jokes by people he once called friends (with good assistance from their media friends) the man has emerged remarkably well.

But having shown resilience and stamina against internal revolt, the biggest task facing Moupo now is to embark on an elaborate exercise of rebranding, meant to change the BNF into a truly modern socialist organization.

The BNF masses have helped him expel the university academics who wanted exclusive proprietorship of the BNF; Moupo should now pay back the masses by boldly moving to modernize the party.

The special congress and the ditching of academics were a necessary, if still far from sufficient, step on the BNF road back to glory.

He has to behave differently, act differently and talk differently.

Now free from the academic bind, Moupo and his BNF may even have to seriously consider changing their archaic constitution altogether.

The starting point will have to be an admission that BNF’s days of glory are gone, and that, currently, the party is in fact a political backwater.

But even then spontaneous growth will neither be easy nor automatic.

Failure to introduce new, bold and far reaching initiatives will mean the Front remaining in the doldrums.

A way has to be found to attract back the moneyed citizenry that have been so ruthlessly repelled off; the essential financiers so passionately hated by the military-fatigue-clad communists who wanted to take the party back to Stone Age era.
Time for reinvention has now begun.

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The Telegraph October 21

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 21, 2020.