Friday, September 25, 2020

An enemy within!

Time was when people were falling over themselves to be seen at the BDP high table, when a membership card offered an opportunity to mingle and interact with the powerful- -a guarantee of a good life with all the trappings of power, privilege and entitlement.

In clear black and white, life was simple and there was everything certain about it; you join the BDP and lead a life of wealth and splendour or join the opposition ÔÇô especially the BNF – and get yourself condemned to hunger, poverty, ridicule and ultimately die a pauper.
But that was then.

The BDP is now unhinged and its loudest and most formidable erstwhile defenders are not only too happy to turn their backs on it but to also smash their former idol and dance on the pieces, before waving a dismissive, somewhat contemptuous goodbye.

In the early 1990s when it was regarded as utter madness to be associated with the BDP at the University of Botswana, Botsalo Ntuane was the most trenchant defender of the party on campus.
Notwithstanding the hostile territory, he openly established the party structures and recruited new members and, upon graduation, he was rewarded with the position of Executive Secretary, an equivalent of a Chief Executive ÔÇô a position he was to hold for ten years.

It certainly is a big deal that twenty years down the line, Ntuane thinks of the BDP as a gutter political party. He will not even honour it with his attendance of its Disciplinary Committee hearing.

“I have no wish to interact with the BDP or any of its organs,” he told Mmegi this week.
“It [BDP] is a dying party,” he told another weekly.

Some of us could see it coming miles off, but we were dismissed as princes of evil who never took their time to see anything positive with the BDP.

The BDP of today is not the same one as that started by Seretse Khama and Quett Masire.
It may retain the swagger and confidence, and, of course, the black and red colours but the core principles of honesty, humility and humaneness are no longer there.

You only have to listen to Gabz FM phone-in programmes to get an idea of who are the mascots at the forefront in defence of today’s BDP. The party has become a freeloader’s haven.
While the party may be going through turbulence at the moment, real chasm will happen in two years time when they have to go for primary elections.

At the moment, one gets a feeling that the party is currently home to too many free riders, who deep in their hearts are sympathetic to the breakaway movement.
Many of them are only just sticking with the BDP because of the lore of power and patronage the party currently promises them.

But when they lose the primaries in two years time, they will no doubt follow their consciences.
They are, so to speak, the enemies within.

The BDP Disciplinary Committee, or “Kangaroo Court” to use Ntuane’s parlance, is helpless against them because they have not broken the party rules.

They are an excess baggage that will only prove more toxic with time.
But what can President Ian Khama do in the meantime to assuage the effects of the meltdown, which, by the way, he has played no small part in its coming about.
The important thing left is for the President to now manage or, to put it more crudely, lower the public expectation of himself.

A few weeks before he ascended the highest office, I wrote on this space that President Khama promised to be the best or worst President by far.

If he succeeded, his success would by far dwarf all ever achieved by his predecessors.
But if he failed, he would be judged much more harshly because people had internalized a misplaced world view of him as a near omnipotent ÔÇô a perception he zealously cultivated nourished, relished and encouraged.

Now he is proving himself an average politician, a far cry from a celebrated army strategist who we are told was so good that he became Brigadier at a youthful age of 24.
He has had serious shortcomings.

The BDP is going through a limbo land and he comes across as clueless on just how to save it.
The tragedy is that no matter how hard one looks around him, there is no inkling of a soul that can provide him with a kind of advice worthy of the problems at hand.

His Vice President has no interest in restoring sanity back into the party.
A biggest beneficiary of the crisis, General Mompati Merafhe knows so well that the longer the party problems continue the greater his chances of remaining as a regent Vice President.
In the meantime there is no question that we should worry for Seretse Khama’s party.
The BDP is at its most vulnerable.

How ironic that a party founded nearly fifty years ago could now break asunder under the watch of its founder’s son.

A party that once evoked emotional fires of love and belonging is now an underbelly of contempt and ridicule among its former lovers- with the hatred and disappointment so passionate and shrill that it can only be compared to the feelings of an erstwhile born-again Christian who suddenly discovers that there is no God after all.

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