Sunday, March 7, 2021

BDP women should vote for Mma Venson-Moitoi

Of the three candidates vying for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairmanship, I can only claim some nodding acquaintance, on a personal level, with Guma Moyo. We phone each other and talk about this and that. I visit Guma at his office, at any time, and we laugh our heads off over some gossip. Yes, just like everyone else, we too gossip. So, compared to the other two candidates, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Patrick Balopi, Guma is more of a brother to me.
As such, one would naturally expect me to rally behind him as he toils to win the BDP chairmanship. Afterall, human nature dictates that we stand by our kith and kin even when they embark on the despicable. We know of wives who stood by their rape-accused husbands. We also know that Thabo Masilo and Oscar Prestorious’ families and friends are still behind them. That is human nature. It is a natural phenomenon. Even during elections, the kith and kin connection is always at play. It can even extend to racial and tribal affiliations. It becomes even worse when you are black because you find yourself voting along racial lines with no care for the brains.
Ask any black American why they voted Barack Obama and the answer you will likely get is, ‘because he is black’. Yes, Obama has brains but it didn’t get him the votes. His skin colour did. Here in Botswana, we do not vote for people because they are smart upstairs. We do not vote for people because we know they will represent us well and serve our interests. We vote them for all the reasons.
This is where God lost it with me. Why on earth didn’t God make me a typical Motswana who votes for all the wrong reasons? Why didn’t God create me to be like the rest of Batswana who believe and support politicians blindly? Right now I would be endorsing Guma Moyo not because I believe he is a better candidate for the BDP chairmanship but solely because of our friendship. God should have made me to be like the rest of my people who are happy to vote for someone just because they have received a free T-shirt and free meat a few days before elections.
I was in Mokoboxane during the by-elections and while hanging out at the local bar with the hoi polloi, a poverty-stricken man boasted to his friends that he was definitely going to vote for the BDP. You may think I’m making this up but the guy said he was going to vote for the BDP because “BDP guys are driving nice cars”. Yep, the guy was going to vote for the guys driving nice cars, not because they would buy him a nice car too or improve his life style in any way. Just the sight of MacD and Mpho’s nice Hilux Legends was enough to win the guy’s vote. I trust you now get an appreciation of what I mean when I posit that Batswana vote people for all the wrong reasons.
It is because of this stupidity displayed by our people that the president refused to travel to America so he can fly to Letlhakeng in a chopper and mesmerize the voters. Believe you me, some of those voters in Letlhakeng voted for the BDP because the chief campaigner, Ian Khama, arrived in a chopper. If people can vote for you just because you drive a nice car, surely they would want to double vote for you just because you are flying a helicopter.
Back to the BDP chairmanship elections. I am of the view Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi is the most deserving of all the other contestants. I am also aware that people may not vote for her, for all the wrong reasons. I still maintain that it is too early for Guma to seek such a high position of power in the BDP. Yes, I know Batswana have dwarfed memories and they have probably already forgotten he once left the BDP with the sole intention of guillotining it to the dustbins. Guma Moyo is one of the reasons BDP lost thousands of members to the breakaway party, the BMD.
Guma has not yet explained to a lot of BDP members why he left the party and why they should trust he will not leave it again. Did he leave the party because he was angry? If so, what guarantee does he have to prove he will never get angry and leave the BDP again? Which surgeon has he consulted to sterilize his anger veins? Just like Moyo, Mma Venson-Moitoi was linked with the faction that felt disgruntled at the BDP but unlike Guma, she didn’t jump ship and start discrediting the BDP and its president. She remained true and loyal to the party. Unlike Guma, her allegiance to the BDP is not suspect or tainted.
Venson-Moitoi may be facing hurdles at her ministry but really, and in all fairness, that should not be used against her in the campaign. The problems besieging the education sector should be blamed on the BDP government system and not squarely on Venson-Moitoi. I don’t see how voting anyone else for the BDP chairmanship will change the system, for as long as that person is a BDP member. Well, unless maybe Guma is just disguising as a BDP member.
In fact, the problems at the ministry of education have made Venson-Moitoi a stronger leader who can be entrusted with captaining the big ship that is the BDP. The lady has endured but withstood a barrage of criticism, insults and threats which a true leader must go through. Venson-Moitoi can confidently claim she can easily deal with problems at party level because she has dealt with bigger problems at national level.
And yes, Venson-Moitoi must be given the chairmanship because she is a woman. Women always cry that they are never given the opportunity to lead and as such Venson-Moitoi’s candidature should come as a big break for the womenfolk. I know the majority of the delegates at the BDP congress will be women. I also know that a majority of women are not going to vote for Venson-Moitoi for all the wrong reasons. Typical of our women here, I know they are already murmuring “gatwe mmangwanago o bata bo chairman”.
Instead of rallying behind one of their own, women are going to vote for Guma, for all the wrong reasons. The guy in Mokoboxane is not alone in his silly assessment of a good candidate. A lot of BDP delegates, especially women, are going to vote for Guma only because he is said to be a millionaire. Guma won’t even have to share his millions with them. The fact that he has the money is enough to attract votes to his side. Many women are not going to vote for Venson-Moitoi for reasons that may sound trivial but very true. Some women are not going to vote for her just because she has made it in life and as though she is the source of their sorrows. They won’t vote for her because she is married and they are not. They won’t vote for her because she wears nicer clothes than theirs. They won’t vote for her just because she doesn’t drive a Range Rover and doesn’t run a hotel. If women in the BDP could put aside their feminine rivalry and instead embrace feminist principles, Venson-Moitoi would and should easily sail through and make history as the first ever woman chairperson in the BDP. Wouldn’t that make you proud, ladies? Well, it’s deliberate that I don’t mention anything about Patrick Balopi. He should just join the BDP council of elders and save himself the embarrassment of reversing all his political glory.
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*This column first appeared on April 17, 2013

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