Friday, July 12, 2024

MPs have to be answerable to the electorate, not to the party

There is a deep level of insincerity, even dishonesty, with the way the BDP Central Committee is conducting itself with regard to its demotion of Tonota Member of Parliament, Pono Moatlhodi.
On Wednesday this past week, I had an opportunity to listen to Jacob Nkate, the party Secretary General’s interview over Radio Botswana.

That was after one of Nkate’s hangers-on had pre-warned me through a cellphone message to switch on to the station.

During the interview, Nkate made no effort to hide his disdain, his utter contempt and hatred for Moatlhodi.
At the end of the interview, I could not help but sigh in disbelief that the BDP high command had always been on the look out for a pretext to get even with the outspoken Moatlhodi.

It all goes back to the days of internecine factional fighting inside the BDP.
The current talk of Discipline is just a pretext; a ploy designed to legitimize their actions while also spreading confusion among the general membership.

The real reason behind the fracas is the control of the BDP.
When it comes to the fight for the control of the BDP, Nkate and Moatlhodi have always been on different sides of the fence.

In a very cruel way, the BDP treatment of Pono Moatlhodi is a stark reminder that our MPs derive their authority not from their constituents but from the ruling party headquarters in Gaborone.
Without knowing it, the BDP has, with its heartless treatment of the Tonota legislator, expanded the power base of party bosses while at the same time reducing the relevance of the electorate.

Batlang Serema, the party’s Chief Executive who Moatlhodi thrashed more than once in Tonota is now a much stronger hand than all BDP backbenches put together.

Henceforth, sycophancy, which was always creeping in anyway, will become fashionable, more entrenched, more widespread and more acceptable.
It, therefore, is not an exaggeration to say the BDP’s merciless crushing of the hapless Moatlhodi has, by extension, rendered the electorate helpless and irrelevant.

In short, democracy has been dealt a heavy blow. The system in which we have grown to believe and trust has all of a sudden become meaningless and hollow!
With this recent turn of events, we have, as a country, lost our long cherished moral compass of accountability.

That was not meant to be!
The fact that, up to now, no mutiny of any sort is being mooted inside the BDP is a testimony of the toothlessness of our so-called democracy.
But with our democratic credentials so much in tatters and more drama still to unfold inside the BDP, Botswana, I am sorry to say, is not that different from Zimbabwe, where an entire country is today held to ransom by a half senile dictator.

But when all is said and done, it’s for all of us as a nation to look around and pick up the pieces.
The election of the president has to be reviewed.
More than ever before, Botswana needs to go the direction of directly electing the Head of State.
I sympathise with Moatlhodi for the crude treatment he is suffering at the hands of his own party.
The whole thing must have caused a hell of emotional burnout on him and his family.

But I think Moatlhodi’s public hanging by the BDP is a price someone had to pay if this democracy was to get back on track.

He must look at himself as a necessary scapegoat, a martyr of some sort whose blood spilling was essential for the cleansing of our national bloodstream which his party had contaminated.
Emotionally sapping though it might be, the injustices against him will, in the end, provide the much needed outlet through which the debris from disgruntlement that has been building inside the BDP members will explode.
While the BDP escapades in Tonota have no doubt turned decidedly nasty, it is reassuring and refreshing that because of the dirty events therein people are now beginning to regard Ian Khama as an ordinary mortal, fraught with all the known human frailties who, like anyone of us, is capable of making some of the most basic mistakes.

In a bizarre turn of events, people inside the BDP have also started to talk of life after Khama.
No doubt the BDP bellicose bent has cost the party, in general, and Khama, in particular, some irreparable damage and prestige.
That is good for the country and democracy.

It’s a kind of therapy that we have always needed but lacked as a people.
In a democracy, people must always be able to factor their lives and existence beyond the life of just one man.

The superhuman image that Khama had grown used to is fast dissipating before our very eyes.
With the pace at which things are turning, it will not be long before somebody inside the BDP stands up and tries to steal the march from him by challenging him for the leadership and control of the party.
Just like Jacob Zuma did to Thabo Mbeki in South Africa.

That can only be therapeutic.
We mourn Moatlhodi’s demise, but we do so in the full confidence that our tears will not be in vain.
That said, it’s a sign of the madness of our times that there are influential voices from within the BDP who think that MPs derive their sustenance from the Central Committee and not from the voters.

That can only be attributed to a patronising attitude among BDP leaders which holds that voters are not clever or sophisticated enough to make certain decisions for themselves.
It is a gross insult that in this era, the BDP Central Committee holds that voters have to be guided as to be actually told by the party headquarters what is good for them.

It goes without saying that Discipline, which seems to be the centerpiece of Ian Khama’s administration, cannot be sustainable if the wishes of the majority are so crudely disregarded as is the case with the voters of Tonota.
This can only play into the hands of those who have always suspected that the Discipline rhetoric that Khama likes to spatter around was actually cobbled as part of a broader stratagem to silence all forms of dissent.
I have always believed that a leadership that does not owe its existence to the will of the majority has no moral authority.

How one wishes there was a live opposition waiting in the wings to pick up the BDP pieces!


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