The pathetic nature of politics can make you laugh through your tears. Perhaps that is why I have always preferred to be a political commentator who just raves about politics rather than consider them. Botswana is headed to the polls in just under a month, October 23 to be precise, and as observed by American provocative author P.J. O’Rourke, it is human nature- at least among free and democratic humans- to be angry, confused and instinctual about politics. The question is how do we go about creating a set of political principles that don’t suck? O’Rourke opines that we need a reasonable, reasonably precise, and reasonably well reasoned way to look at political institutions, political policies and politicians.
There is ample evidence of what happens when such principles are lacking: O’Rourke gives Somalia as an example and I don’t want to go that far; Zimbabwe is just next door.President Mokgweetsi Masisi faces his first litmus test at the general election as head of the BDP and this just 18 months after taking over from Ian Khama through the automatic succession dispensation. Opposition parties are saying exactly what they are expected to say; Masisi must be denied the opportunity to continue as State President. Masisi’s predecessor, Ian Khama, has joined forces with the opposition and is also calling on Batswana to deny Masisi continued stay at the State House.
I have been following and listening to arguments advanced by Khama and his newly found friends in the opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), to clear any ambiguity. The UDC say Masisi must be denied the vote because they feel it’s about time they too led the country. Apart from their desire to taste power, the UDC is not saying anything that makes Masisi not worth of a leader. Apart from his personal differences with Masisi, Khama is not saying anything that makes Masisi a bad leader. To Khama, Masisi is only bad because he denies him unfettered access to State aircraft for his personal adventures. Khama has never pointed to anything that Masisi has done to the detriment of the nation. On the other hand, the UDC is not even ashamed to declare that they so desperately want power, at all cost, including throwing away all the principles that have always justified their existence since establishment.
They want to attain State power through any means even if it means getting assistance from soiled individuals with checkered backgrounds.Let us rewind a little and go back to 2014. For the first time in the history of Botswana politics, the opposition attained more than 50 percent of the popular vote. The opposition made history and won an unprecedented number of parliamentary seats. I think they brought 17 legislators. You don’t need to have studied political science to understand why Batswana rallied behind opposition in such large numbers. It was because of their disdain for Khama’s rule. The opposition was relentless and unwavering in their message. They told Batswana of how Khama was a bad leader who only cared about himself and his close associates.
They told Batswana how, under Khama, civil liberties were eroded and the rule of law was trampled upon with impunity. It was Khama’s way or the high way. He abhorred divergent opinion and frowned upon any resistance to his dictatorial rule. It was the opposition who led the chorus in exposing the real Khama. It was during Khama’s tenure that political opponents turned into political enemies. Batswana did not only believe what the opposition was saying about Khama; they too experienced his iron-fist rule, first hand. The media sang from the same hymn book and exposed Khama’s dictatorial tendencies. Some of us who were political commentators during Khama’s tenure dedicated our pens to critiquing and criticizing Khama.Let’s come back to 2019. The opposition, or rather the UDC, have changed tune and are now singing praises for Khama. Boko has now changed from labelling Khama a demon and now sees him as a Messiah, only because Khama promises to help him oust Masisi. In his newly found love for Khama, Boko wants all of us to follow him and embrace Khama.
Either Boko is delusional or he thinks we are so stupid he can play us like a yo-yo. Boko lied to himself to think we condemned Khama because he too was condemning him. The truth is we condemned Khama because we have brains and could see how Khama was taking our country down the drain. Our relations with Khama cannot be determined by any convenience to Boko. In 2014 Boko knew that for him to win against Khama he needed to amplify Khama’s evil deeds and he was all too happy we followed suit but he needs to be told that we did so not because of him but simply because of our shared sentiments on Khama. Now Boko wants us to follow suit in his praise of Khama and this, not because Khama is worth of the praise but only because it is convenient for Boko. We won’t allow that!
Boko now says he never had any problems with Khama but he only had problems with the BDP. What the ….!!!!!! Boko takes us for fools. Kana jaanong he is no different from someone who says ‘‘I know this guy is a reckless driver and during his time as the driver he killed many people through his dangerous driving but hey, I actually had no problem with him but I only have a problem with the vehicles he was driving’’. The BDP is the vehicle and Khama was the driver who proved to be dangerous and reckless behind the wheel. It beats me how Boko expects Batswana to not get jittery when he wants the same reckless Khama to become his co-driver. Khama has made it clear that he has an agreement with Boko’s UDC to work with him when they assume State power in October. It doesn’t make sense at all. Batswana sneered at Khama in 2014 and Boko finds nothing wrong with roping him back in the control room? Oh my God!
Any reasonable Motswana will readily agree that while BDP is still the same institution that was led by Khama, in Masisi the party has a completely different driver and it would be unfair to judge his driving skills through Khama. In the 17 months that he has been at the Office of the President, Masisi has done a lot to prove he is not just another Khama and it has never been business as usual. O ntse a duba thankga trying to right all the wrongs done by Khama. Masisi hit the ground running. He has rectified a lot of things that Batswana were complaining about during the Khama administration. In fact he has even addressed the concerns of the opposition so much it would seem he left them with nothing to campaign against and perhaps that explains why, in the absence of any meaningful criticism, they resorted to insulting him and his wife and their minor child.
Masisi had to rebuild our international relations which had soured and collapsed at some instances during Khama who held his counterparts in contempt and viewed them as useless and not worth of his time. Masisi had to address Kgotla meetings and tell Batswana about the aspirations of his administration for them. He had to formulate and reformulate government policies to align with the aspirations of Batswana. Looking at how much he has achieved in the 17 months he has been in charge, I do not see why he should be denied the opportunity for a fresh mandate. His plate has been full and his situation is not helped by the fact that, sadly for him, the BDP has fielded (mostly) very timid and uninspiring parliamentary candidates whom Masisi cannot rely entirely on for his return at the State House. While Masisi makes for a supercharged train locomotive, most of his candidates don’t make attractive coaches and as such Masisi is forced to work twice as hard to convince Batswana that he will take them to their destination. I actually prefer a strong president with weak candidates because experience (Khama) has shown that even if you can have good parliamentarians you cannot run the country successfully with a bad president.
For the first time we are now able to watch opposition events on national television and this is something that was unheard of during Khama’s tenure. Ungrateful opposition members are always quick to say Masisi is not doing them a favour by allowing State media to broadcast their events and all this they say with full knowledge that while indeed it might not be a favour, it is something that he can easily deny them and they will just wail like helpless children, the same way it happened when their now bosom buddy Khama was in control.
For some of us who complained at how Khama had closed out the local media, it brings some breath of fresh air to have someone like Masisi who embraces the media and is always ready to update the nation through the media and is always ready to field questions from journalists, something that we never experienced with Khama. Batswana should tread carefully when they vote in October because I can assure you a lot of all these promises churned out by the UDC are just bait to win elections with no prospects for realization.
The luxury of being in opposition is that you came come up with all promises, some very ludicrous because you ride on the desperation of the electorate. To show how pathetic some of these promises are, immediately after the UDC made a promise to create 100 000 jobs within 12 months with minimum wage of 3000 Pula, other clowns quickly formed their political parties and promised more than the UDC, with one of them even promising to find girlfriends and boyfriends for the electorate.
This is just a sign of how easy it is for the opposition to recklessly shout out any mouth-watering promises to the electorates fully knowing they won’t be held accountable.Interestingly, they only speak of how they will dole out money to the people without telling us how they are going to generate that money. I also find it very funny that the UDC seems to think Masisi is crazy to suggest the possibility of assembling electric cars in Botswana.
They are so ignorant they don’t even know electric cars have long arrived in Botswana. Chobe Game Lodge in Kasane long started using electric vehicles from as far back as 2014 and if these vehicles are already on our roads, why would it be difficult to assemble or even manufacture them here? Masisi deserves a fresh mandate and this I say even as I know the opposition will accuse me of being bought by Masisi. I rallied for the UDC in 2014. How much did they pay me to prove I’m for sale
I rallied for them at the time because I could see Khama was bringing down the country. I am a Motswana first and a journalist second.