In the same week that it announced its birth, the Real Alternative Party (RAP) was also putting together a plan to demonstrate support for the two men accused of killing Kgatleng East MP, Isaac Davids.
RAP’s leader, Gaontebale Mokgosi, says that the party’s leadership is presently gathering information on what led to the fatal stabbing of the MP. It will also monitor press reports with a view to dispatching its members (called “messengers”) to the High Court when the trial gets underway. Already a theme of the campaign has been developed (“Justice for Farm Workers”) and when the trial starts, members wearing T-shirts and waving placards with that message will be deployed both inside and outside the courtroom. Davids was killed by his herdmen last Sunday at an off-the-grid place called Sorilatholo.
Mokgosi, whose official designation is Brother National Chairperson, says that beyond legal reasoning that will guide the process, RAP also wants the court to consider the adverse circumstances that would cause farm workers to kill their employer.
He adds that through the campaign, the party will ensure that demonstrators stay within the parametres of the law. He has personal experience of a campaign of that nature, having participated in one during the long-running court case between the government and a group of Bushmen (also called Basarwa) who had been forcibly removed from the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve. The Bushmen wanted their residency and hunting rights to be fully restored and Mokgosi participated in this campaign as part of a group called the International Socialists of Botswana (ISB). The theme of this campaign was “Let Basarwa Go Home” and ISB activists would attend court wearing T-shirts that carried that message.
RAP conceives of the Davids matter as being more about human rights than law and order. To that end, Mokgosi says that the party will endeavour to work with human rights organisations on this campaign. As with the death of a notoriously lecherous filmmaker two years ago, the MP’s murder has prompted a bizarre response in a society that doesn’t generally speak ill of the dead. On the very day that the death was publicly announced, there were as many condolence messages as recollections of how mean the MP could be. News reports indicate that Davids routinely ill-treated his herdmen in various ways and that he had actually started the fight that led to his death. RAP’s ultimate plan is to use this case to draw attention to the working conditions of farm workers throughout Botswana.