It is now official – Botswana Movement for Democracy has been registered as a political party.
Perhaps as a strategy to undermine its offshoot, the ruling BDP maintained that they would not talk about BMD because it was not a registered political party.
Now that strategy has been busted! It has outlived its sell by date.
The irony though is that not only does the official registration leave a chink inside BDP’s arsenal, it also is the beginning of trouble for BMD.
Having been registered as a political party they have to start behaving like one.
It will not be easy.
BMD has no choice but to abandon the extremist politics they have been preaching over the last two months or so.
At the moment, there is a big gap in their armoury which they have to urgently move to fill really fast.
Party colours and symbols are important, but they do not define a political movement.
What detractors are waiting for is the party’s identity.
And the sooner they favour us with that identity, the better it is for BMD.
In the past month alone, BMD has had the better of argument against anything and everything that Ian Khama has stood for since becoming State President.
It’s time to move on.
For them, unlike the multitudes they have left behind at the BDP, Khama is now water under the bridge.
BMD has to start answering painful, uncomfortable and inconvenient questions.
The biggest question they face is just how do they start to make headway against a sitting President with whom not so long ago they were literally singing from the same hymn book?
From their rhetoric, it is all too clear that a personal betrayal by Khama has become their mantra – an overarching public relations skill which they have not only seized upon with ferocity but have also trenchantly refined since they made known their intensions to break away from the BDP.
But, for goodness sake, taking over state power entails much more than a hatred for just one man, no matter how determined, shrill or passionate that hatred may be.
Many people are still dazed at the amount of public goodwill BMD is enjoying. Batswana simply cannot believe it.
There is no question that the party has been founded on a fertile ground.
As it turns out, there has been a lot of simmering discontent inside the BDP, which despite all intelligence services at his disposal, the President did not pick or do anything about.
But for BMD earning public goodwill has been the easier part, the more difficult task will be managing public expectations.
It is here that one finds themselves really worried for BMD.
BMD is better warned that extraordinarily high numbers of people are waiting in the wings, biding their time just to see what kind of animal this new party is going to be.
Should the BMD mismanage public expectations of itself these floating souls will have no choice but to stick with the devil they know best.
In the meantime BMD leaders ÔÇô or are they regents – have to prove that they are not the Gaborone elite as many have been wont to dismiss them.
There is yet one more reason why I worry for the long term future of the BMD.
Going forward BMD has to devote inordinate amounts of time thinking about self preservation and resisting the likely as to be certain attempts by the State to sow seeds of division amongst themselves – and in here I hope time will prove me wrong.
BMD was skillful to kick start their campaign by parading Khama as a bogeyman but any further protracted obsession with the man beyond what they have so far achieved will most likely either render them a lost cause or attract doubts and skepticism about their true motives.
BMD has to stop targeting Khama and start talking policies, issues ÔÇô more specifically the bread and butter issues.
In other words, BMD has to tone down its anti-Khama rhetoric and urgently move the ladder up in trying to make itself an electable party.
Personally I have not the slightest sympathy for the BDP.
In fact, on numerous occasions I have gone on record, not only calling for its split but also pointing out why it was in the interest of this country for the BDP to break into two.
As it turns out, the split may also be a good teacher for the BDP. The split will form them to lick their wounds, atone to their past sins, especially the arrogance part.
But BMD has to move fast, not least because it is them who upped the stakes and turned the heat on against Khama and his BDP.
A point has been made that they reject President Khama and his politics of patronage.
Now is the time to move to moderate politics ÔÇô the politics of reason and substance.
The easiest route would be for BMD to adopt policies similar to BDP’s.
Coming to think of it there is nothing wrong rejecting Khama but adopting the BDP politics.
I hesitate to second guess what policy stance BMD will adopt, for they have not said anything materially substantive as to allow room for any meaningful deductions.
But for them to inspire confidence they have to cling to those politics of the centre as defined by BDP over the decades while also harping on the alarming speed at which their erstwhile party has lost the plot on personal freedoms, civil liberties and media freedoms.
Again this is not to say they should apologise or disguise their rejection of Khama.
To the contrary, while emphatically rejecting Khama, BMD should be careful not to quarantine their image as a platform of discontent as it currently seems to be.
Attempts have to be made to appeal to a broader spectrum of more serious people in the BDP, many of whom are in fact already grappling with troubles to decipher a world after Khama. BMD has to be sympathetic to these people’s fears and aspirations.
President Khama’s biggest mistake was to drag the BDP away from politics of concession and try to run it from the fringes of stark black and white as defined by his militaristic philosophy of discipline.
The result has been to isolate a chunk of the party who are well schooled in the politics of compromise and middle ground.
These are the people BMD has to actively court.
Anything else will prove disastrous.