In an increasing fashion, the ruling BDP holds freedom of speech in absolute contempt.
At the pace at which our freedoms and liberties are diminishing, it will not be long before we are strictly told what to say and how to say it.
It will not be long before party officials, clad in red and black coattails tell us what to do and how to do it.
The same party mandarins will soon tell us what to wear and when to wear it.
It will not be long before we are told what to think and how to think it.
Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Botsalo Ntuane, has used the analogy of Botswana sliding into the league of such countries as Saudi Arabia and Iran.
I think Afghanistan, under the terror rule of the Taliban, would have been much more like it.
The BDP Master Plan to curtail liberty is being implemented from within the party backyard.
Once conformity and their dreamed up superficial consensus are achieved from therein the horizons will naturally be cast wider.
It is a doctrinal mission that I dare say will be implemented with scientific precision and a near religious zeal.
It is a scary prospect, but what option do we have other than to start taking lessons on conformity!
There is no doubt that Ntuane was being terrifyingly truthful when he answered the questions as put to him by Botswana Gazette on what he thought about the Liquor Regulations.
Lest we forget, for close to a decade, the same Ntuane, who, today, is being mercilessly harangued by a BDP Kangaroo Court, was the party’s Executive Secretary.
Lest we forget, the same Ntuane, who is today cruelly presented as an idiot that needs ideological orientation, is the same Ntuane who, from scratch, established the BDP branches at the University of Botswana at a time when that campus was literally a no go zone for the ruling party.
How times change!
But then I digress.
As a people, we must be wary of a government that wants to treat people like animated toys.
As a people, we should be suspicious of a government that behaves like a moody and sentimental father who capriciously dispenses love and affection to his kids one moment only to withdraw it and turn cold the next.
The danger with such a government is that, if things do not go its way (and given its unpredictability), it can very easily become the most heartless at the same time.
What Ntuane is being subjected to is a show trial.
He is being used to send a political message.
Show trials were common during the Soviet Russia.
By its very nature, a show trial is held in public or, if in private, deliberately so leaked with the intention of influencing public opinion rather than ensuring justice.
True to that Soviet tradition, Ntuane’s trial by the BDP has been unapologetically stage managed to send a clear message to all recalcitrant party members that the party hierarchy will not brook any dissent.
The unequivocal message to others (not Ntuane) is that the days of dissent are over.
Henceforth, every BDP member will have to submit themselves to whatever form of indignity their masters will choose or face similar music.
That is what the communists used to do under Joseph Stalin.
In a true Stalinist tradition, the seriousness of charges against Ntuane does not matter. What is important is not the offence but for Ntuane to publicly admit and accept to the party Commissars that his character is flawed.
What is important is not the charge sheet but an admission from him that he needs ideological assistance from the party centre. It is humiliation at its worst.
In a true Stalinist fashion it matters little whether what Ntuane told Botswana Gazette is right or wrong.
What is important to the Commissars is to extract a confession from him, resplendent with his signature acknowledging the trumped up charges and calling himself an enemy of the people; a treacherous traitor who has to be guided towards the path of ideological redemption.
True to the autocratic traditions of the Soviet Russia, Ntuane is being deliberately portrayed as a disloyal transgressor, an infidel who has caused shame and disgust to The Party and Leader (especially the Leader) and, therefore, has to be shunned and ostracized by the loyal and faithful.
As in all the show trials, evidence and defence of the offenders are immaterial. In fact the accused loses the case long before it starts.
The whole charade is only a formality.
Worse, the alleged offenders need not have done anything wrong at all. What is important is their acknowledgement and admission of personal defects.
What is important is the need of a long drawn out process of self abasement, topped with a public apology before the offender grovels before the Commissars pronouncing himself an enemy of the people. The whole thing is meant to portray Ntuane as an enemy of the people who has fallen short of the party’s expectations.
It will be interesting to see what argument the BDP has to deny that this new strict code of conduct, nurtured under Khama, is a routine form of Discipline rather than a dangerous throwback to the days of heartless Stalinism that killed all forms of freedoms and liberties in the Soviet Union?
From the reports, it is clear that Ntuane was dragooned into making what, by all intents and purposes, is a forced apology. He had no choice. The alternative was a suspension and ultimate expulsion from the party. This is inhumanity at its worst.
It is not too far off the mark to surmise that in the true Soviet style, General Ian Khama is using his charge hands ÔÇô Chairman Daniel Kwelagobe, Vice President Mompati Merafhe and Secretary General Jacob Nkate as Soviet-style Commissars to jealously police the BDP members’ contacts with the outside world while also guarding against all influences that the master may consider undesirable.
While this will, in the short term, place unbearable emotional burdens on the people involved, (in this instance Ntuane), in the long term and at a broader level, it is also likely to cause strain on the BDP’s make up and organizational relationships.
It is not in the nature of human beings to give in for long to unbridled muzzling.
Freedom is an inalienable human trait. It is non negotiable and is not subject to artificial party borders.
Shouting down dissenting voices and crowding out critics is a short term solution, especially in a liberal and open society such as ours.
It will not be long before suppressed anger bursts and people start devising ways of expressing themselves against these hideous acts of Stalinism.