The general elections are approaching and politicians have started to play mind games on the electorates. They are beginning to portray themselves as loving, caring and compassionate. For the past four years, politicians have been playing boss while the electorates played servants or mere spectators. The elections are upon us and the roles are now changing. Politicians now want to be seen as servants who are at the service of the electorates.
The voter has now assumed the role of master. As has always been the case with election time, the role of the master will be short-lived for the electorates. Once the politicians are elected and sworn into office, the electorates will revert back to their place of servant-hood and the master, being the elected politicians, will assume their place as masters. The campaigns have intensified and politicians are now attending all funerals and weddings, including those of people they do not even know. Politicians are begging for slots in funeral and wedding programs. They shower praises on people they have never known.
Politicians have successfully crafted the art of manipulating the electorates. They are cashing in on our gullibility which more often borders on stupidity.
A few years ago I was in Mokoboxane during the campaign for the by-election in that dusty, tiny village mapped just a few kilometers from Orapa. I was shocked at the gullibility of the voters in that village. I was saddened by the apparent ignorance displayed by the people of Mokoboxane. Political parties had invaded the village to lure the electorates to their respective parties. To say the campaigns were crazy would be an understatement. You see, politicians know their game. They know the tactics. They also fully grasp the gullibility of their targets.
They know what to do where and what to say to whom. For instance, the tactics used by politicians in villages such as Mokoboxane are different from those applied to entice electorates in, say Gaborone. When former Vice President Mompati Merafhe landed in Mokoboxane in a BDF helicopter, fully clad in BDP regalia, villagers scrambled to get closer to the chopper, without a care of contracting tuberculosis from the massive dust that engulfed the football pitch where the chopper was stationed for the entire duration of Merafhe’s visit. Parents and children were equally elated. They had never been visited by a Vice President, let alone one who arrives from the skies.
I asked one elderly man who couldn’t stop grinning the entire time Merafhe was in Mokoboxane why he felt so happy to see Merafhe and his helicopter. Yes, many of the villagers thought the BDF helicopter was Merafhe’s personal acquisition. They would even laugh at you if you mentioned to them that the helicopter actually belongs to them, by virtue of being nationals of this country. The old man told me he was happy that Merafhe found it befitting to visit them and hear their problems. Mind you, Merafhe was not in Mokoboxane to address a Kgotla meeting. He came solely to ask for votes from the people of this village, at a BDP rally, clad in BDP colours. The old man could not answer when I put it to him that this would be the first and the last time Merafhe set foot in their village.
I told him that politicians were not in Mokoboxane at that particular time necessarily for the love of the people of Mokoboxane but solely for the votes of the villagers. The BDP had also hired a truck and filled it up with Chibuku beverages and villagers from surrounding lands and cattle posts were told that if they got in the truck to go and vote for the BDP, they would be rewarded with free Chibuku. For many in Mokoboxane, being promised a Chibuku carton is like promising candy to kindergarten kids. They scrambled for the Chibuku truck and went on to vote for the BDP in lieu of Chibuku. Yes they did. I was there and witnessed it all.
Because they are ignorant, they publicly boasted about it. One BDP activist even brought CEDA application forms and had villagers fill them up with promises of helping them start up business enterprises. I always pass through Mokoboxane village on my way to Maun and not a single new business entity has been established in the village through those CEDA applications. Politicians, across the political divide, are busy doling out T-shirts, blankets, free alcohol and free rides to villagers and all these political stunts are guised as gestures of benevolence. You can’t blame the politicians entirely. We have proved to them that our vote is worth those T-shirts and alcohol. We have proved to them that a free meal on the eve of elections is all it takes to have us vote them into power. We are that cheap and we deserve such treatment. This past weekend, the Government owned Daily News and BTV headlined with a story of President Khama’s visit to a bereaved family in Hukuntsi. Many people were fooled to believe Khama visited this family out of compassion and true leadership. Khama will fool many Batswana but I refuse to be counted in.
Look, Khama is not known to attend funerals, including those of people who work closely with him. I mean, we know Khama didn’t attend funerals of some of his cabinet ministers such as Baledzi Gaolathe and Motowane. How are we to view Khama as compassionate when he has vowed never ever to pass condolences to the family of John Kalafatis whom the courts have ruled he was brutally and illegally killed by Khama’s men? For Khama to pass by the home of the bereaved family in Hukuntsi, clad in BDP colours, on a day he was in tthat area to campaign for a BDP parliamentary candidate goes to show how shamelessly politicians can use occasions such as funerals to campaign for votes. Don’t be fooled by the presence of politicians, including President Khama at your wedding or funeral.
Politicians never loved you. They only love your votes.
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