The threats of a strike action by the public sector are just too obvious to ignore. Conditions on the ground are ripe for a forced regime change. There is a lot of anger among our people. In fact, when one looks closely at the path and body language of the leaders of the strike action, their trajectories and strategies have all the hallmarks of a people bent on taking state political power than demanding for salary increase. The demand for a salary increase is just the starting point.
It is a pretext for greater demands that they know so well would, at least for now, be a hard sell to make. Ian Khama beware!!! It is starkly clear many of the trade union leaders are actually too happy that cabinet has been unreasonable enough not to listen to their demands. They are too happy that a populist president, instead of sidetracking them, has actually played into their hands. It still boggles my mind how it has been that our overpaid intelligence operatives could have missed this elephant trap laid down by the unions. For the trade unions, the ultimate trophy is to render the country ungovernable. In the meantime they have their eyes on the ultimate prize, which is a change of government. It would be an embellishment to say trade unions want power for themselves.
They want to give it to their allies, the opposition, who are, by the way, the invisible hand behind the entire project. That has not come as a surprise to me. In fact, what has instead left me really bemused has been a carefree attitude by Ian Khama and his government towards his challengers. There is no better example of just how Khama and his band of advisors, who are mainly expatriates, are out of the loop.
The extent to which they have been caught flatfooted is shocking. Obsessed with themselves, they clearly do not understand the perils they are facing. Either they have completely failed to correctly read the mood on the ground or they are blinded by a systemic streak of arrogance that stems mainly from their misplaced belief of entitlement to power. The biggest mistakes that leaders always make is to fall into the trap that they are indispensable. That, I’m afraid, seems to have caught up with our President, and if he is not careful, he may just pay a very heavy price. A close analysis of the rhetoric in the air reveals that the 16 percent, which for now remains a mystery how it was reached at, is just an alibi. It is a pretext, or should we say a cover-up for what would otherwise be more outlandish political demands. Under the circumstances there is all likelihood that even if Government was to give in and grant the salary increase, the belligerents would still find an excuse to go ahead with their action under another guise and or name, of course. To the belligerents, time for change has come.
What they failed to achieve at the polls, they will get through the back door; by hook or crook, it now seems.
This is not to underplay the reasons for a strike action.
The strike action by the public service is a manifestation of a much greater malaise in our society, chief of which is a failure of our political systems and processes. Unemployment is at its highest. There is a groundswell of public resentment that the current Government has demonstrated a shocking soft spot for corruption. Rightly or wrongly, there is growing perception that Ian Khama is a key beneficiary of the ongoing looting by some of his associates. He is the organ grinder pulling strings behind the monkeys.
Khama’s biggest mistake has been to allow himself to become a part of the story. By surrounding himself with the corrupt, Khama has not done enough to ensure he remained above the narrative.
Corruption aside, Khama’s ingrained disdain for the middle class has had a role in the mess we now find ourselves. At the time that Government enclave is literally burning, the president has left on a trip to the north, to visit his usual exotic tourist destinations. It’s possible he is trying to put on a strong face and pretend that its business as usual. But that can only feed on the anger and want for revenge the middle class have against him. Right from the beginning Khama’s disdain of the middle class has been legendary. He has never sought to engage, let alone appease or placate them. Rather than embrace them as a focal point of his strategic interest, he has steadfastly cast the middle as a nuisance that had to be isolated and ultimately crushed. But even by his standards the recent contempt with which he has treated the Public Service, has been, to say the least, breathtaking. There have been talk that the BDP Chairman, Daniel Kwelagobe, could, on behalf of the ruling party, prevail and bring sense as to avert the impending strike. That, to me, was like hoping against hope.
Powerful as he is, Kwelagobe is in actual fact among a diminishing band of a more accommodative and flexible constitutionalists that no longer have much space inside the current BDP. They belong to another era.
The BDP of today is a more perilous and predatory institution controlled more by increasingly unaccountable briefcase businessmen with very strong Chinese connections.
It is a party under the jackboot of those who have their eyes on huge contracts. We may rail against them, but the Khama family as personified by Ian and Tshekedi are just public faces. Behind them are a more determined, more cunning, more agile, more suave and more corrupt figures who are working with outsiders to amass as much as possible during the remaining tenure of Khama’s hegemony. These are the people who are feeding on the resentment against Khama. Corrupt to the bone, they are the real reasons why trade unions now want to topple Ian Khama’s government. Having allowed himself too close to these sharks, it’s unlikely Khama will survive.
As is to be expected, waiting somewhere in the wings is our lately more assertive opposition.
Of course, they are being opportunistic, but it’s natural that we see them all too eager to exploit the political vacuum arising from the strike action. For them, the unfolding process is like a political beauty contest.
It is not by coincidence that on Friday the three opposition parties (BNF, BCP and BMD) held a press conference at which they effectively adopted trade union demands as their own. They are buoyed by the smell of blood in the air.
It will not be long before they pounce.
The hapless victim is Ian Khama, a tragic figure who lost the plot when it mattered most.