Jacob Nkate’s supporters inside the ruling BDP have attacked the efficacy of going ahead with the party’s Central Committee elections next year.
The faction’s foremost strategist, Raphael Dingalo, says Central Committee elections are likely to not only destabilize the party but also stretch the contestants’ resources at the time when they have to prepare for a General Election.
That is, of course, an old alibi as it is a dangerous tactic by a dishonest faction that would do anything, however outrageous, to remain behind the control levers of a ruling party.
The suggestion to cancel the Central Committee elections, and the flimsy reasons advanced therein, have all the hallmarks of a banana republic.
While every political party would want to approach a General Election as stable, united and well resourced, killing or temporarily suspending inner party democracy can simply be no option to achieving those attributes.
It is a shame.
A key player of a democracy that is Botswana, BDP members should treat suggestions to cancel election, vague and baseless as they are, as a dark day for democracy.
It is a disgrace that under the guise of academic independence, leading minds like that of Dr. Dingalo finds nothing wrong in coming up with crafty inventions that are so inherently obstructionist against all the known tenets of democracy.
Already, some members are talking of going to court if the BDP leadership scraps the Central Committee’s scheduled elections next year.
Again, it is hurting to see that Dr. Dingalo deliberately chooses not to advise his factional friends to make a clear-sighted distinction between what is right and wrong.
It is hurting that Dr. Dingalo elects to use his sizeable intellect to spearhead what is essentially a brash onslaught against inner party democracy.
I admire Dingalo’s academic depth, but I must say I am deeply ashamed that he finds nothing wrong with carrying Nkate’s political can and using his intelligence to mutilate an electoral process that is meant to give the broader BDP membership a say on who they want as their leaders going into a General Election.
As a show of grace, I can only attribute Dingalo’s flawed thinking to temporary bad judgment that will pass with time.
Two things should, when everything is said and done, however, be clear about Dingalo and his faction’s true fears.
Firstly, their fear of an election is a realization and admission that since taking up the entire control of the ruling party last year, as a faction they have in a big way failed the hopes and aspirations of the BDP members.
The tables are beginning to tilt against their favour.
For that they have no one else to blame but themselves.
They chose to remain perched in the cities, leading high street lifestyles when they knew so well that the majority of BDP members, on whose shoulders their political ambitions rested, were domiciled in the rural heartlands.
Secondly, and this is more serious, having tasted power, the Nkate faction thinks they can now start capriciously changing the rules of engagement to suit themselves. I would not be surprised if, from here, one of them stood up and suggested postponing a General Election because, faced with drought, the country’s efforts to feed itself could be distracted.
It is hard to believe that were they sure of retaining control of the BDP machinery they would be the ones at the forefront of what is so clearly a scaremongering campaign.
Another dimension is that the call by the Nkate faction to cancel the election and their fear for democracy is a reflection of a personal catastrophe facing their leader ÔÇô Nkate himself.
Other than that, he could very easily lose to Gomolemo Motswaledi. The BDP Secretary General also faces a resurgent opposition in the form of a united BCP and BAM in his backyard in the Ngami constituency.
Hence the fear by his faction is yet another manifestation of a failure by this group to consolidate their gains.
That fear is all the more understandable when one takes into account the growing and glaring reality that Jacob Nkate faces a real possibility of losing the Secretary General position to Gomolemo Motswaledi.
Such a loss would make Nkate’s reign as BDP Secretary General, the shortest in the party’s history.
At a national level, we should be worried that a very powerful faction of the ruling party, which happens to be currently holding a sway in that party’s Central committee seems intent on undermining democracy by way of attempting to arbitrarily and mechanically cancel inner party elections that are due.
The seriousness of these crude attempts to assassinate democracy cannot be over-emphasised. The implications reach far beyond the shores of the BDP.
Even more worrying should be that attempts to put democracy in the cold room come at the very time when the majority of us are still scrutinizing President Khama’s true democratic stripes.
To enhance his democratic credentials in the face of skeptics, President Khama has to prevail on Nkate’s faction and convince them that elections, of whatever shade, are the closest thing by which democracy is secured; and as we all know, democracy is so all very important to us and our way of life.
This is why in the coming months Khama needs to be watched closely, with his body language closely monitored to see which side of the debate he falls.
As undisputed leader of the BDP, Ian Khama needs to have the humility to come on the side of democracy which, as he put it in his inaugural speech, he joined the army to defend.
If he takes sides with those who think there is nothing wrong with rigging and suspending democracy then we have every reason as a nation to fear for our future.
If, on the other hand, the President falls on those who think that elections are an integral part of democracy and should not be fiddled with at whatever cost, then this country should show some grace to him for going an extra mile to assure the nation that his faith in democracy is not a temporary gimmick that can easily be wavered.