There is always a temptation to mistake one’s softness for weakness or timidity.
It seems like some key politicians inside the Botswana Movement for Democracy have fallen for this trap in their perception of their leader, Ndaba Gaolathe.
The last few months have seen Gaolathe pretty much assuming what has often looked like the responsibility of a firefighter.
A small but highly determined number of belligerents inside the party ÔÇô some of them with a long history of political anarchism going as far back as30
years ÔÇô is literally holding everybody inside the BMD at ransom.
Everything has come to a gridlock.
It all started with a by-election in Mochudi early in the year where processes were wantonly flouted by some of these, resulting in the party losing the council seat that it should have retained.
Second to follow was the public humiliation that some renegades were intent on meting on their Gaolathe over an innocuous matter surrounding the
election of BMD youth committee.
Now the same elements are at it again over their handling of a membership application that strangely and unashamedly seems to have been elevated above
everything else that the BMD as party has always stood for.
Gaolathe comes across as shy, self-effacing and even diffident.
He is a direct contrast to his friend and mentor, Gomolemo Motswaledi who could be brazen, flamboyant, colourful and even tenacious.
But this is in no way a sign of weakness.
If anything his demeanour belies his inner faith in principle and perseverance.
He is steadfast, discreet and above all honest.
In today’s world dominated by Punch and Judy kind of politics, Gaolathe is the closest one can get to the legendary Mahatma Gandhi ÔÇô measured, trusting
His faith in other human beings is so immense as to be potentially dangerous.
From his behavior Gaolathe’s chief stock in trade is integrity and credibility. It would be utterly impossible to say the same about his opponents inside the BMD much less about those they are backing to oust him.
There have been persistent and systemic attempts to defy and humiliate Gaolathe by some leading members of his executive team. Outside influence,
including from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party and the highly politicised intelligence services cannot at this point be ruled out, especially looking at the amount of money flying around the circle of belligerents and their unscrupulous handlers itching to fight Gaolathe.
Up until now, he has played by the rules, true to his being imagining that all was done in good faith and for collective good of BMD.
He had hoped that the insurgency was a momentary thing that would pass.
He has clearly been wrong.
The people he is up against are not only underhanded, determined, slick and sly but also awash with money.
Clearly the stakes and with that the prize are much higher than Gaolathe has all along imagined.
Some of the people he is up against have on multiple occasions been previously sacked from other organizations for their anarchist attitude.
These are individuals to who stability and progress remain foreign.
They resent and frown at anything that resembles unity.
The late Dr Kenneth Koma would immediately recognize a good number of them were he to come back to life.
Ever a smooth operator, in his long political career the socialist patriarch constantly grappled with them and their like-minded.
In his own peculiar way he defeated all of them and drove him into the wilderness ÔÇô at a great cost to the Botswana National Front.
Koma’s ideological prot├®g├® at the BNF, Otsweletse Moupo, on account of insufficient savvy and poorly developed human skills came across the same
elements but was markedly less successful in dealing with them.
To his credit, Duma Boko has been much more agile and more ruthless ÔÇô Stalinist even – in his determination to rid the BNF of such tendencies ÔÇô and with admirably great success. Boko is a copybook from which Gaolathe must learn to deal with what situation he has in his hands against these insidious elements.
Before joining the BMD some of these perennial and unruly anarchists today confronting Gaolathe and the BMD had gone on to form political parties that at best remained peripheral.
BMD saved them from going into the sunset of their political careers Yet they are so ungrateful ÔÇô clearly driven by ill-intent, malice and ulterior motives as to literally piss into the same pool from which they are drinking.
Because this lot has mistaken themselves for Gaolathe’s opposite number, it was only a matter of time before something was going to give.
Now Ndaba Gaolathe has publicly come out of his shell to stamp his authority and show these malcontents that contrary to their skewed worldview of himself, he is not a sissy.
The letters released this week provide a glimpse of who Ndaba Gaolathe really is.
From the temper of the letters one can only regard him as a weakling at own peril.
Already his detractors are saying Gaolathe wants to behave like Ian Khama.
That is unmitigated rubbish.
Unlike Khama, Gaolathe has been goaded by the destructive nature of his detractors to act to protect the BMD.
Where Khama was driven by feels of animosity, Gaolathe is pushed by a need to reconcile.
Where Khama was driven by inner feelings to defeat, Gaolathe wants to co-exist.
Khama’s behavior against perceived enemies was always unprovoked and ill-willed.
In contrast Gaolathe has reached his current stance after many incidents of public defiance by his colleagues.
While Khama was by instinct in his behavior, unilateralist wants to take everybody along and is generous enough to give aggressors the benefit of
doubt, including an opportunity to repent.
While Khama was divisive Gaolathe is enlisting the membership of BMD on the matters that threaten to destabilse the party, calling on them to join him on a unity crusade.
Engaging ordinary members such as Gaolathe is very crucial.
In fact that is partly how Duma Book has been so immensely successful in ridding the BNF of similar destructive elements which were by the way much
more widespread, much more entrenched and much more vociferous than what currently obtains at the BMD.
Most importantly Gaolathe should resist being bullied.
He must not be threatened by a fear of losing what is by all measure a just war.
History will, from the look of things judge him kindly.