Friday, September 25, 2020

BCP should stop playing BNF’s baby brother

So there is mutiny playing out from inside the BNF.

The uncouth exchanges, from inside this party, which by any account faces extinction defy belief.
In a way, the chickens are coming home to roost.

Just as the party president is trying hard to stamp his authority, so are the dissidents fighting back to undermine him.

The ruling BDP can only watch and marvel from a safe distance.
No political party I know of has mismanaged its success and squandered its public goodwill more than the BNF.
They have no one to blame but themselves.

Of course, the dissidents will blame Moupo for all the evils besieging the party.

But when all is said and done, it would be silly, disingenuous, and even rude to put all the blame on Moupo’s doorstep alone.

The man’s detractors inside the BNF have to share the blame.

Most of the BNF’s diehard supporters, especially the hard left, are stuck in the good old memories of the 1980s and early 1990s when their party was not only a growing party but was also a beacon of hope.

Refusing to embrace the changing times, like their party, these supporters are out of date, and fast-tracking them to modern times will not be easy.
These are the people on whose minds it has still not dawned that the BNF is no longer what it used to be.

This band is out of touch with a public mood which radiates not nostalgia for a return to BNF’s good old days but rather resentment, spite and ill-will.

These are the diehard supporters who still have their heads buried in the feel good old days when the BNF determined and, in many instances, dominated the public debate discourse.

They are the people who deliberately choose not to see a public mood that beams not with admiration but rather with contempt for a party that persistently failed to grasp several opportunities that presented themselves so often in the past.

Not only has the BNF lost its shine, it has also lost its rating in the eyes of one person who matters most, especially in an election year such as this ÔÇô the voter.

Sometime last year around October, I had a chat with the BNF leader, Mr. Moupo.

He tried to reassure me that the situation was not as dire as the media and many of what he dismissively called the pseudo analysts were trying to make it look like.

“We have been through this before and bounced back,” he said.

“You will have to wait until the general elections to appreciate our resilience,” he said in his said, characteristically polite and self-effacing tone.

The stark reality that Moupo does not want to face is that the situation has changed drastically since the days BNF used to run down the road to hell and back.

Today’s BNF brand is tarnished, probably for good.

An interaction of factors has led to a situation where the BNF is no longer an integral component of our national imagination.
At least not in a scale that it used to be.

But my problem today is not BNF but rather the Botswana Congress Party.
While people have plainly rid the BNF out of their psyche and are groping for a replacement, it is disappointing that the BCP, which by all accounts is a natural shoo-in, seems to be still mesmerised by BNF’s erstwhile position of a big brother.

This self-doubt is demeaning, not only to the BCP itself but also to the many potential voters who are running away from the BNF ghost.

I derive no pleasure from cataloguing events that have led to the demise of the BNF, not least because the BNF used to be such a promising party, occupying a center stage of national imagination.
If not promptly replaced, the BNF death may prove a forerunner to the death of our democracy as a nation.

As we all know, a functioning multi-party system is the centerpiece of any true democracy.

Which is why it is important that to save Botswana from plunging further and further into a one party state, the BCP leadership, more than anyone else, have to start capitalizing on the positive profile and goodwill that they currently enjoy.

Rather than endorse the BCP, I am only saying the BCP better start behaving and acting like an official opposition given that the official opposition has willingly abdicated that role.

This will not be easy, especially if the BCP does not end their fixation with regarding the BNF as a big brother.
The BCP’s biggest blunder over the years has been to buy the media line that alone they could not unseat the ruling BDP, that the BCP would have to bite the bullet and negotiate with an untrustworthy political partner that the BNF repeatedly proved itself to be. Perhaps there was a time when it was true that alone the BCP had no chance against the BDP.

But circumstances have changed.
The same media story line that put unbearable pressure on the BCP to negotiate against its will, also went on to bloat and exaggerate the BNF self worth.

The enforced negotiations encouraged a totally undeserved sense of entitlement within some influential sections of the BNF, a hangover of which persists to this day.
With hindsight I think we in the media were wrong.

As we all know, the negotiations have been a terrifying mixture of deceit, lies and outright opportunism.
The whole cooperation exercise has proved not only a criminal waste of time but also a psychological abuse of the parties’ general membership on a grand scale.

During the negotiations, the BNF, as the main partner, showed unparalleled scorn not only for the other parties but also for honesty. Not only did the main opposition speak in forked tongues, they also kept changing and shifting their demands.

Negotiating with such a character is not only difficult and frustrating but also next to impossible.

It is exactly because of those failed talks that the public is today approaching the election season in a mood of hopelessness and despondency.
The only way out is for the BCP to stop playing baby brother and assume the responsibilities that come with being an official opposition.

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