An interesting development is taking place right in our backyard.
And it’s sending shivers down the spines of the ruling party.
The Botswana Congress Party has compiled a lengthy incriminating dossier essentially cataloguing examples that support their assertion that Botswana’s democracy is on the deathbed.
Citing examples of Professor Kenneth Good’s deportation and government’s bad faith in its handling of the CKGR, the BCP says Botswana’s democratic traditions and civil liberties are at an unprecedented risk.
The article, possibly written with the input of the BCP new catch Dick Bayford, makes an interesting political read. Not only does the dossier shine the light on signs of Botswana’s increasing presidentialism, the BCP spells out forebodings with regard to the Security and Intelligence Bill.
The bottom line is that the BCP document busts the myth that Botswana is Africa’s shining example.
While previous attempts to rubbish the BDP democratic credentials have lacked depth, the BCP document has in it a combination of substance, honesty and sincerity.
The new BCP dossier is replete with examples and illustrations that even the well oiled BDP spin machinery will find insurmountable to plausibly rebut.
And for that they have to be commended.
Predictably, in addition to anger, the
BDP response has been that of contempt: same response that was so much a character of the BDP and their government when the CKGR dispute took a turn for the worse.
True to their character the BDP have resorted to their now commonplace labels they churn out to discredit dissenting voices.
The now worn out myth that anybody who tells the world that Botswana is not Africa’s best democracy scares away potential investors has also been roped in to explain BCP behaviour.
We can only hope the BCP will be steadfast and should be unrelenting in such alerts.
They are in Botswana’s interests.
I cannot think of better examples of patriotism.
Personally, I am more worried by silence than effects and offences such alerts could invoke.
The BDP, however, has a choice; they could continue denying symptoms of a decline in the country’s democracy, or they could kick-start an open minded debate on how best to confront and resolve the underlying problems.
The fact of the matter is that the BDP and their Botswana government have never been trained, let alone prepared, for international criticism.
For them the CKGR issue has been a kind of a rude awakening.
Thus, it is understandable that the BDP displays such palpable discomfort at the sustained BCP claims that Botswana’s democracy is going to the dogs.
There was no way under the sun such a scientific analysis as the one flighted on the BCP website was going to make the ruling BDP feel any better.
They are used to eulogies and undeserved compliments.
Used to power (and one may say its wanton abuse), the BDP has never prepared itself for such pointed, blow by blow attacks as that kick started by BCP.
The BCP has actually exposed the BDP, busted the myth of democracy that has sustained them for decades, and landed them in a predicament from which a recovery will neither be easy nor guaranteed.
The truth which BCP so rightly point out is that Botswana is no longer great in anything any longer.
As a democracy, we have been overtaken and upstaged by newcomers in many aspects.
BDP denials will only ensure the country’s further precipitous slide into the abyss.
Ironically, the current crop of BDP leaders has not heeded the call by the party founder, Sir Seretse Khama, when, in his speech, he compared democracy to a tree that had to be nurtured and protected if it was to blossom.
We must point out that the carefree and debonair attitude displayed by the current BDP leadership in the face of deteriorating environment for civil liberties is actually the country’s real menace.
Calls for silence are misplaced.
Silence, by the way, will only make them accomplices to this deterioration of civil liberties and freedoms, which, it must be said, once destroyed will become almost impossible to restore.
But the BCP must go beyond just exposing the shortcomings and transgressions of the ruling party.
They must go as far as to undercut the ruling party’s influence by presenting themselves as a much more credible alternative, a feat that seems to be fast eluding the opposition big brother, the Old Botswana National Front.