Friday, September 25, 2020

How opposition has been able to capture not only the narrative in parliament, but also public imagination!

The ongoing session of parliament has sent a mixed frisson of surprise, anger and excitement among the public.

This is because for the first time, Parliament is being screened live on Botswana Television.

Many members of the public cannot believe what they’re seeing on their screens.

The nation is grasped and often mesmerized by what sometimes looks like a soap opera.

There is an unmistakable element of grandstanding and also playing to the gallery by Members of Parliament.

The opposition in parliament is increasingly showing the guile perhaps never seen before within their ranks. And the public is taking notice.

Good performers relish every minute of the drama for they know that half their campaign will be complete long before the next election cycle begins.

All of a sudden there is disgrace, and down the line a heavy price to pay for being a poor performer in parliament.

The laggards have nowhere to hide. Voters’ wrath awaits them at the next General Elections.

On a daily basis the opposition bonhomie is on public display as the BDP continues to lose grip.

The Botswana Democratic Party has been left chasing the wind, running after a buoyant opposition that is acutely aware that it now controls the narrative.

The ruling party is living with the consequence of its past deeds to mercilessly feed on own children.

There is a gap of almost a generation that is simply not there inside the BDP.

Strategists are watching with helpless anguish unable to proffer a response that can work.

The motions lined up by the opposition go right to the bottom of who and what Botswana has always stood for.

The opposition is playing a long game. They are slowly chipping off the BDP reputation. At the core of this game is to sow seeds of doubt on the public psyche. They want to expose the BDP as incompetent, while showing that they could do a much better job.

Reading many of these motions on paper, one would think they are from the BDP establishment.

Yet the BDP finds itself forced to reject every single one of them – and for no plausible reasons at that.

Under the rules, motions are not binding on the executive.

But it looks rash to reject a motion simply because it comes from the opposition.

And this fills the BDP, especially the front bench with anger and disdain.

For the opposition it’s a campaign ploy – they are taking aim at state power. And for the BDP, it’s a double-edged sword.

In the voter’s mind the opposition is planting an imagery that they are already in power.

The BDP finds itself in unenviable no win situation; accepting the motions would look like the party in power is under the spell of opposition from which it is lamely taking orders.

Rejecting them, as the BDP has done thus far annoys the public who interpret it as a sign of immature partisanship on the BDP part. Already the watching public is getting fed-up at what they perceive as BDP childish intolerance.

The BDP poor performance is a combination of outright incompetence and absence of strategy.

The opposition has also profited from lack of proper coordination on the part of the governing party.

Among the ruling party MPs there is general laxity and lethargy. There is nothing more laughable than watching them on screen.

They are like little kids on their first day at school. Many of them appear lost at sea and totally unaware of what to do.

There is also an element of apparent leadership rigidity, which does not allow individual talent to shine.

Many BDP members of parliament look scared, afraid of saying anything on the floor lest they find themselves on the wrong side of the so-called party caucus.

The public is slowly beginning to share a worldview preached by the opposition on the BDP and government lackluster performance.

The gap opened by the opposition is growing, but it remains recoverable. The public like what they are seeing and what the opposition is capable of. And if that continues, they will definitely be rewarded.

Dumelang Saleshando is in charge but for much of the current session, visibly angry.

Pono Moatlhodi is on his element. Every time he stands-up he displays his mastery of parliament Standing Orders which he often bends to his will with wanton abandon.

He has become the latter-day Daniel Kwelagobe. And the ruling party benches often watch his theatrics and use of eccentric language with helpless bemusement.

He exudes a lot of confidence. And is often not easy to control, including by his own side.

The BDP in parliament has cut an image of a huge truck that lacks agility.

Even cabinet ministers are often hesitant and unsure.

The party relies too much on vice president Slumber Tsogwane who also carries the lofty title of Leader of the House.

Save for his dogmatism, Tsogwane has for the BDP been a real savior in the current session. Without him the sky would have long fallen on them. The opposition wants to overrun the BDP. But first they have to overrun Tsogwane.

Like Moatlhodi, he too knows the house rules. His undoing so far has been his insatiable appetite for confrontation. He behaves like a pit-bull.

Most in the opposition bench demonstrate varying levels of intellectual curiosity.

The soft composure of Kenny Kapinga, for example belies his competence.

The depth of his reasoning is a marvel to watch. Like a lawyer that he is, Kapinga presents his arguments in magisterial tones. 

Wynter Mmolotsi’s combination of experience and robust debating skills easily make him one of the finest treasures in parliament.

Anybody looking for cabinet material across the opposition benches would not struggle to find it; Taolo Lucas, Kesitegile Gobotswang, Dithapelo Keorapetse, Never Tshabang, Carter Hikuama, Goretetse Kekgonegile. The list is actually much longer.

Personally, I enjoy watching Yandani Boko on stage. He conjures in me images of footballer Rahim Sterling during the days when he was at Liverpool. Like Sterling, there are signs of raw talent and unrefined brilliance in Boko. While at Liverpool, Sterling would go straight at his opponents, dribble them and then dribble himself before losing the ball by running far ahead of it at great speed – all of it a result of poorly developed coordination. Now at Manchester City, Sterling has mellowed. Boko needs a similar drill that Pep Guardiola put sterling through. He is a political gem waiting to mature.

Meanwhile all attempts of a BDP comeback in parliament are often easily dismissed as corny.

The opposition has craftly created doubts surrounding the State of Emergency. Their soft message is to say the State of Emergency was never necessary, but the BDP used their numbers to bring it so as to provide cover for corruption in the covi-19 related procurement.

The BDP has failed to convincingly respond to this argument.  They cannot do so without upping their game.

It is because the opposition has momentum, their message is getting through and things are going for them.

If only their leader could stop being grumpy. Saleshando should cease nursing grudges. His current performance lacks the passion he showed in his first tenure as Member of Parliament.

He should lighten up and stop behaving like the whole world is up against him.

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