Thursday, July 18, 2024

Comical defections and the making of a generation of untamed, greedy political entrepreneurs!

The silly season of Botswana’s politics is upon us and is intensifying as professional weathercocks do what they do best – changing political parties like social misfits flocking to a new dating website with renewed hope to get equally desperate partners. .  

Whereas the madness is an integral part of our politics, you never get used to it because it is annoying, absurd and a national embarrassment. The madness mainly manifests in political figures and their porters moving from one political party to the other often after failing to secure their personal interests. 

In spite that politicians do cross-carpet or defect every now and then, large movements normally occur after party primary elections when losers decide to switch parties as a way to protest their loss or show their dissatisfaction with party processes or simply to jump-start their political journey elsewhere. 

Like the second installment of the mating season for most wild animals, another large exodus is also witnessed after a general election with defectors making all sorts of excuses that they themselves cannot believe. 

This second wave of defections comprises of both who have lost in the primaries but stayed put in spite of their frustrations and those who won at the primaries and secured their passage to the general election but lost to the opponents. These defectors would then make various claims amongst them being that they lost to their opponents because they were de-campaigned by their party colleagues.

In both circumstances, the defectors’ decision to switch homes would seem to be motivated by a desire to resurrect and breathe new life into their fading political career. In most occasions, the defectors desire to decamp along with their supporters and it does not matter how many times one changes political homes. 

While some people have defended these constant defections as a democratic right, it can also be argued that defections make a mockery of democracy and jeopardize the value of party politics because these irrational defections seem to suggest that our political parties are not different in any single way, ideologically, programmatically or whatever. 

Departing from the premise that defectors solely wander the political space to secure their personal interests, it is being argued that most politicians are ruthless turncoats who inherently consider politics as a vehicle for realizing their narrow personal goals in the business of politics and satisfying their wholesale greed.

Since most people are into politics for self-interest, whenever they are unable to satisfy their greed in a particular party, they immediately switch political camps to try their luck elsewhere hence our politics is dominated by completely unprincipled political vendors and hungry tourists whose interest is summed up by the phrase, ‘what is in it for me?’. 

It is a truism that as human beings we would not have attained the possible if we did not reach at what had seemed impossible or if we have not been ambitious. However, this ambition that seems to have morphed into greed in most of our politicians, especially the political amateurs, is at a different level.

Our politics has seen an influx of political speculators and predatory merchants who merely seek to use politics to pursue private economic advantage. As a result of this transformation, our politics has gone awry and substantially hallowed out. 

A ruthless, craving generation of a bunch of crooks has come to live off politics and has hijacked our politics and hop across the political space like swarms of brown locust that often invade farming lands.

Whereas in the past the mere knowledge of having the ability to influence others as a politician in addition to the feeling of being at the nerve center of national development offered indispensable feelings of contentment, todays politics has been turned into profitable quick cash enterprise that is very attractive to political delinquents and plunderers. 

The transition from politics as a service to the nation to politics as a commercial enterprise has been accompanied by the rise and rise of very greedy amateur politicians and occasional hunter-gatherers who regard their participation in politics as a source of power and livelihood not as a means to further national interests. 

In today’s world, a good number of people merely join politics to seek power and position merely to pursue instant riches. Politics has been turned into a conveyor belt to untapped riches. Such people are solely lured into politics by the promise of power and cash rather than a desire to serve their country. 

These are the people whose political decisions are determined not by their heads but their stomachs. The emergence of this crop of political scavengers who behave like migratory creatures has actually turned our politics upside down, from an orientation towards service of the nation to a cash cow.

The result is that the profession of politics has been polluted and politicians are held in contempt and hold the lowest levels of trust compared to other professions. Politicians are characterized as ruthless wolves that would, without the tinniest of shame, ensure their parties lose an election if they do not have their way or if things are not done according to their preferences. 

While in the past we had people who gave their lives wholly to the service of politics, people who lived for politics by placing politics at the center of their lives, today we have charlatans who live off politics by making it their only permanent source of income; people who will kill for politics that serve their personal interests. 

Whereas yesteryear politicians got satisfaction that theirs was a national service and sought no remuneration directly for their political work, today’s political con artists would be quick to remind their constituents that they (politicians) are not some community blood banks meant for the benefit of the entire community. 

Today’s politicians, the adventurous rooters and hens of Botswana’s party politics, actually do not buy the talk that politics can be conducted honorifically because they have got families to feed and have deliberately enlisted in politics as political entrepreneurs who engage in politics solely to make money not to serve the community or the nation. 

Whereas lamenting loudly and being profusely nostalgic will not give us the kind of political leaders we deserve – the original model of a desired politician, it is our responsibility to create a mental design or model of an unblemished politician with the hope that this will influence voters to make informed and just choices at the polls. 

Batswana deserve politicians who have an abundance of passion to serve the nation; men and women who have a calling for politics, a feeling of responsibility and a sense of proportion. Batswana need men and women who understand the stresses of ordinary people’s lives not sly politicians who only remember ordinary people when they need their support. 

Botswana deserves men and women who want to spend every day of their lives doing national service in politics, people whose lives would have no meaning away from politics. Indeed Botswana deserves people who live for politics NOT those who live off politics. 

We demand politicians who are committed to improving the quality of life of our people not those committed to a vagabond life that is more desperate than trading in illegal sex work.   

These defections will remind you of song lyrics by American rapper, Eminem, from his album called Superman that goes like, ‘But I do know one thing though, bitches, they come, they go’.  

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