We all know what happened to the late Mompati Merafhe (Robala Motalaote). Well, for those who forget quickly, let me jog your memory: For a very long time, Merafhe was Member of Parliament for one of those Mahalapye constituencies. He fell ill but didn’t immediately resign from parliament.
For a very long time he was MP in absentia, spending more time in hospital than he did parliament. He took several, lengthy sick ‘leaves’ until sanity, or was it reality, finally sunk in and he resigned. Actually, I hear his family forced him to retire but that is neither here nor there because what is of relevance here is the fact he finally threw in the towel. Yes, he finally retired and paved way for a by-election in Mahalapye. They will shy away from admitting it, but Merafhes’s illness and subsequent resignation came as “Hallelujah Amen” to those who benefitted from his departure in politics.
Merafhe is now chilling in heaven (provided you believe in Biblical fairytales), and that is proof, no matter how reluctant you may be in tendering your resignation when you are incapacitated, death can eventually force you into eternal resignation. What I mean is, even if Merafhe had refused to resign from parliament on the basis of his ill health, death would still have dragged him into eternal retirement. Enter Christian De Graaf. It has been revealed that Ghanzi South Member of Parliament Christian De Graaf has been placed on a very long sick leave. He is seriously ill. He can no longer perform his parliamentary and ministerial duties. He is incapacitated, so to speak. The MP is said to be seeking medical help far away in India and not even his family can commit to when he will likely be back in Botswana, let alone at parliament to resume duty.
It appears President Khama has also lost hope on the possibility of the return of De Graaf. He has since elevated De Graaf’s deputy to take over his Ministerial responsibilities. My friend Fidelis Molao has also ‘eaten something’ as he is now a junior Minister in De Graaf’s Ministry, all thanks to De Graaf’s illness. Just like Merafhe, De Graaf is still refusing to resign despite the fact he has now swapped his tailor-made suits for hospital pyjamas. Rumour has it De Graaf wanted to resign but the BDP leadership prevailed over him because the party is scared of losing his constituency to the opposition in the event of a by-election. While the BDP is alive to the reality De Graaf may never come back, they want to buy time and look for a suitable replacement. This is where the UDC must come in.
The BDP will not openly admit they are looking for De Graaf’s replacement because that may appear insensitive on their part. The UDC however, must not be fooled into believing it is wrong to intensify their campaigns while De Graaf lies supine in some Indian hospital bed. Some realities, or eventualities, cannot just be ignored or avoided. When a political office bearer is placed on a two months sick leave, the eventuality is that he may need to be replaced and the reality is that whoever wants to replace him must campaign to the electorates. We should apply football tactics here.
When a player goes down during a football match, a reserve player immediately storms from the bench and starts to warm up even before ascertaining the severity of the injuries sustained by his team mate. He does this driven by the eventuality of the need to replace the injured player should he be declared incapacitated to continue with the game. In the same way, people should not wait for De Graaf to resign or die (God forbid) before they can start warming up to replacing him. The UDC must avoid the Merafhe-Mahalapye situation where they waited until he stepped down before they could campaign vigorously in his constituency even as it was evidently clear, one way or the other, it was over for Merafhe.
The UDC must leave no stone unturned in their endeavor to wrestle power from the BDP. They must utilize all available opportunities to increase their seats in Parliament, even if that means cashing in on the illness or demise of BDP representatives. Coming out to say you want to replace De Graaf in the event he doesn’t recover from illness or in case he dies should not be frowned upon. It is your Priests and Pastors who tell us that we all die because God would have sanctioned and long known about our deaths. God continues to sanction our deaths, at times without even hinting to us. Now in the case of De Graaf there are hints. He may never come back to parliament and parties must place their reserves on standby.
The UDC must work hard to even convince other ‘healthy’ MP’s to cross the floor. Already, several BDP MP’s are disgruntled. Their party is stifling their independence in parliament as the leadership frustrates their motions which are deemed pro opposition. The BDP is said to have come up with a strategy for the 2019 general elections, code-named ‘Do or Die’. The UDC must therefore seize the opportunity whenever the BDP “Do” wrong and even when the BDP representatives “Die”.
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