Saturday, June 3, 2023

BCP, cabinet and the Khama/Boko phone call

A South African journalist friend of mine, Mondli Makhanya recently wrote that Mamphela Ramphela’s Agang SA is a comic relief that South Africa needs, or something to that effect.

Besieged with all sorts of troubles, South Africans needed something to make them laugh, said Makhanya. And Agang SA was one such thing.

As a footnote for those not well versed with South African politics, Agang SA started as a promising political party, with lofty ambitions and a lot of money.

The party was started by Ramphela, a once respected academic and girlfriend to the late Steve Biko.

At one point Ramphela took Agang SA into an alliance with South Africa’s main opposition, the DA.

As a result she was made president of the alliance, with a strategy to attract back voters for the mainly white DA.

The marriage lasted for a day; and in tears too.

The whole thing collapsed after a fiery communist, Gwede Mantashe who also doubles as ruling ANC Secretary General scathingly referred to Dr Ramphela as a rented black.
It was an attack from which Ramphela was never to recover.

For all its money, Agang SAwas to performdecimally at the polls and thereafter Ramphela announcedshe was resigning from politics. In total disarray, Agang SA has been left for dead.
For Mamphela Ramphela, the cutthroat, hurly-burly life of politics was from the beginning an ill fated and ill advised escapade.

She was well suited to suave and choreographed boardrooms of such organizations like the World Bank where she once served as a director.

Following last week’s abysmal performance at the polls, a perception is fast gaining hold that the Botswana Congress Party is, to borrow Makhanya’s phraseology, fast degenerating into a comic relief for many of our people.

For the record and before the BCP followers fall on me like a ton of bricks, I do not share that view.

My view is that the BCP needs time to heal and hopefully decide what they want to become going forward.

Not only have they been humbled, they also have been humiliated at polls.
And as we see including from some of their more seasoned intellectuals, losing can be disorientating.

It is totally important that being the winner that it is, the UDC allows BCP space to mourn, grief and hopefully recuperate without taunting. Victory, we contend demands magnanimity.

In the spirit of tolerance it is important that during this time the BCP is left alone in their significantly reduced little world to lick their wounds but also to regain consciousness.
As it is they have been gobsmacked.

Difficult as it might be for them given their traditional love for public glare, the BCP too should make an attempt to disengage and get out of the public eye. Doing so is in their interest. Their weekly press conferences are for now an unhelpful distraction against the more important task of healing.

That for now is enough about the BCP.

After what often felt like an inordinate wait, President Ian Khama has announced his cabinet, or at least a part of it.

It is all ministers and no vice president.

In appointing his cabinet, President Khama has in my opinion deftly played all the cards that he had been dealt.

It was from the beginning a tight ship to captain given the shortage of skill, experience and general human capital that was available to him.

After the elections there are more people qualified to run a government in opposition benches than there are on the side of the ruling party.

This is probably an outcome of the fact that more people voted for opposition than they did for a party in power. It is an anomaly we have to contend with.

As a country, we have for some time been verging towards that point.
It is a scandal.

Other than appoint his lackluster cabinet, President Khama has also talked to the leader of opposition, Duma Boko.

He says he wants to create a working relationship with opposition, the UDC in particular ÔÇô as if he had any other way open to him.

Under normal circumstances this should be an extraordinarily reassuring gesture, especially coming from a lame duck president.

The trouble though is that as a rule President Khama invariably operates on bad faith.
This makes it difficult as to be impossible to ever take him at his word.
Boko shouldapproach Khama with caution.

UDC performed so well at the polls because from the onset they stood against all that Khama believed in.

If indeed Khama is genuine and sincere, the UDC should send him a clear set of conditions before they can start taking him seriously.

These in my opinion should include unconditional removal of arbitrary visa restrictions placed on Gordon Bennett, Stephen Corry, Rick Yune and Julius Malema, among others.

UDC should also demand that an insane presidential order declaring Professor Kenneth Good a persona non-grata be revoked.

These are part of the democratic human rights principles that need to anchor both our national democratic governance and international relations as eloquently enunciated by Duma Boko at his constituency campaign launch last month.

On these principles the UDC should be unrepentantly, in fact unashamedly maximalist.

Because these are the principles that set the UDC apart, they also are non-negotiable.
Boko should not allow Khama to do unto him that which Robert Mugabe did to Morgan Tsvangirai; rendering him a buffoon by discrediting him in the eyes of the nation by creating a public impression that some of the devilish BDP programmes have been given prior approval by the UDC.
More to the point, the UDC should not allow itself to become a proxy of Khama’s evil crusade against people like Margaret Nasha.

But it is scarcely in the account of BDP’s internal wars that we should counsel the UDC to be most wary of Khama’s designs. He should not fall for Khama’s bait.

There are many people in the UDC who given his vindictive demeanour, Khama will never forgive.
They include Tawana Moremi, Ndaba Gaolathe and Nehemiah Modubule.

These are the people who need UDC and indeed the leader’s guaranteed protection against Khama.
Such guarantees are hardly forthcoming if an impression is created that a un-negotiated d├®tente is about to be created between the UDC and Khama.

The fact of the matter is that president Khama cannot be trusted. He does not inspire trust and never has.

His intensions, especially when dealing with people who hold dissenting views are seldom well meaning.

Our memories are still fresh with how his charges once threatened to release footage of ameeting that Boko once had with Khama ÔÇô until their bluff was called.


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