Never before in recent times has the ruling Botswana Democratic Party had it so good.
Not only is the party in relative peace with itself (thanks to a negotiated ceasefire that seems to be holding ground), the opposition Botswana National Front is in tatters.
By all intents and purposes, the BNF is cruising on auto pilot ÔÇôrudderless, unmanned and unsure of its destination.
The BNF decline is the root cause of all of the BDP’s arrogance and hubris.
The ruling party looks around and sees no challenge to its hegemony.
BNF President Otsweletse Moupo will no doubt feel affronted and slighted by this statement, but the ground truth is that, under him, the BNF has totally lost the battle for control of the national policy agenda.
The BNF used to be a great party.
It is exactly because they used to be a political colossus that the BNF is having such a difficult time facing up to the hard reality of their slipping popularity.
Exactly how it has been that a once admirable institution of hope has degenerated into an embodiment of scorn boggles the mind.
At no moment in living memory has the BNF been such a contemptible failure in its attempts to influence the discourse of both public debate and public policy.
No one doubts Moupo’s good intentions but still there is a charge to lay at his doorstep.
Having comprehensively annihilated all internal dissent within the BNF, Moupo comes across as a sorry figure who cannot figure out what to do with immense power and goodwill he finds in his hands.
While one does not wish to intrude in BNF’s private grief, it might just be the time to tell Moupo the hard facts that successful leadership is much more than just sincere intentions.
By any measure of political success, Moupo has disappointed.
But then the bigger problem is who is there to take over? No single credible name immediately comes to my mind.
The BNF needs a political rebirth if it is to reestablish itself.
The only way to achieve this rebirth is through a change at the top.
Unless the BNF resolves its leadership problems it will have no honest basis on which to fight next year’s General Elections.
It’s difficult to imagine how the BNF, under the currently incoherent leadership, will be able to mount a fight back against Ian Khama’s buoyed machinery in next year’s General Elections.
A terribly dishonorable defeat awaits the BNF at next year’s polls.
As hard as it may be to swallow this, there are disconcerting signs that the BNF could actually be falling apart.
The recent mass resignation of the party’s Electoral Board is a case in point.
Graver difficulties face both Moupo and his BNF as next year’s General Elections approach.
Unless a miracle befalls them, a total descent into chaos and a near parliamentary extinction are two ugly prospects that await the BNF after the elections.
This is particularly disheartening when one gets to recall that throughout the 1980s and for most part of the 1990s the BNF was an exceedingly rigorous intellectual entity, a dominant source of ideas that set the tone of national debates.
That image has been pretty damaged, possibly for good.
The sorry state of affairs that is the BNF of today is particularly saddening when one gets to recall just how on many occasions the party’s paltry three MPs in parliament used to hold the entire BDP at ransom, throwing the whole ruling party into uneasy defense.
This was the BNF that literally forced the BDP to make embarrassing u-turns on almost all the major political decisions of our time ÔÇô free education, reduction of the voting age, limited presidential term and, more importantly, the introduction of an Independent Electoral Commission.
Blindly wedded to their history of past glory and unable to change with the times, the BNF is growing more primitive by the day.
The helplessness and intense feelings of nostalgia must be particularly painful foe the party faithful, especially those who were a part and parcel of the BNF resurgence in 1984 when the ruling BDP used to mimic every other policy pronouncement so forcefully and competently articulated by Dr. Kenneth Koma and his close associates.
Under the leadership of Kenneth Koma, the BNF literally appropriated itself the territory meant for a party in power; much to the chagrin and frustration of the then president Ketumile Masire. Those days are long gone. The BDP is today back in charge.
Under Ian Khama, the BDP stranglehold can only increase.
I doubt people like Kenneth Koma, Maitshwarelo Dabutha and Paul Rantao would recognize today’s BNF were they to rise from the dead.
Rather than fight to influence the discourse of public debates, today’s BNF is married to short-term considerations, like internal bickering, gossip, scheming and political posturing, all a result of a shameful obsession to grab newspaper headlines than hard work in building the party structures at the grassroots as used to be the case.