Saturday, December 9, 2023

BMD Congress: beyond Pilane and Motswaledi

Barring a tragedy of momentous proportions the Botswana Movement for Democracy will this week go for their inaugural congress.

The congress has been postponed before.

We hope this time it will go ahead as planned.

What the BMD needs more than electing substantive leadership is to also discuss their policy papers.
Since its formation, it has been the party’s Achilles Heel that it has no policy to talk about.
Detractors have gone further to say until such time that they can produce a blueprint, the BMD should not be allowed to participate in the debates of the country’s public discourse.

This accusation has been a stinging bite to the BMD leadership who, without subjecting themselves to any form of test find themselves holding the estimable position of Leader of Opposition.

We still have a long way to go in directly empowering the voter to have a direct say in who they want as their leader ÔÇô not just for the position of State President.
But that is the debate for another day.

The media was this week awash with stories of just how BMD is besotted with factionalism.
If the stories are correct the battle lines have been drawn between Gomolemo Motswaledi and Sidney Pilane.

I know both of these gentlemen very well.

After talking to each of them for extended periods over the years, I have come to the conclusion that each of them is devoted to the basic tenets of democracy.

I look forward to watching their contest play out.

It is my ardent hope that none of them will be withdrawing from the race.

To me it is immaterial who of them emerges victorious.

This is because I’m not a BMD member but mainly because I think either of them perfectly qualified to be BMD Leader.

We need to prove to our people that there is nothing wrong with harbouring leadership ambitions.
We can only do that if we put paid to the lie that elections are divisive.

History lessens show that after he won state power through a protracted guerilla warfare, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni disbanded all political parties and went on to establish what he madly called a “no party state’ ÔÇô whatever that means.

Museveni’s fallacious madness crossed my mind this week as I remembered our leadership’s aversion to elections.

Just what is wrong with internal contest? This is the question that has occupied my mind intensely for the last few weeks as I tried to figure out the reasons behind the BDP compromise talk.
I think our media is partly to blame.

Every time somebody raises up their hand that they want to run for office, the media falls on them with all kinds of exotic names.

Assistant Minister of Local Government has now attracted all sorts of names just for saying he wanted to become the BDP Secretary General.

Our ever gullible media is all too happy to call him things like maverick, defiant, outspoken; recklessly trying to create a hero where non-exists.

There is no worse example of how long we still have to go before we can as a country fully internalize even the most elementary principles of inner party democracy.

Three years ago in the build-up towards historic elections that ultimately ushered in a first black President in the United States of America, Barack Obama was running head to head with Hillary Clinton.

Even as the contest polarized the Democratic Party to the brink, we never for a minute heard anyone calling on either Obama or Clinton to withdraw from the race to save the party.
Hierarchically, Obama was much junior to Clinton, but she never for once looked at Obama as cheeky and or daring.

To Clinton, Obama was a young, ambitious junior black senator who was only expressing his constitutional right to become President of the United States.

After winning, Obama went on to even surprise us more when he chose the same Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State ÔÇô arguably the second most powerful job in Washington after that of President.
That to me went to demonstrate how confident Obama was of himself.

Here was a grounded youthful President who was all too happy to rope in his yesteryear political opponent because he believed firmly in the qualities that Hillary Clinton brought to the table.
As Motswaledi and Pilane go for elections, I hope there is a lesson they can learn from Obama and Clinton.

Whoever wins the BMD leadership contest has to know that they still need each other.
Only lesser men are unable to rise high as to put their past behind them.

Bigger men like Obama do not only put history behind them, they also forgive their rivals as to offer them plum jobs in their governments.

Clinton, to her credit, is serving Obama and, of course, the United States ably and very loyally.
She is not precluded from challenging Obama in 2012, if she wants.
That is the beauty of real democracy.

I hope Ian Khama knows something about Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton ÔÇô especially how the two got to hold the positions they are holding.


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