Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Ntuane will have to conform or shut up

Crude as it may sound, my mentor and brother, Botsalo Ntuane will soon find himself having to conform or completely shut up as he resettles at the BDP. After a lot of prolonged public speculation, MP Botsalo Ntuane finally made up his mind last week and retraced his footsteps back into the BDP, a party he left some two years ago to form the BMD. No, I lied; he didn’t leave the BDP but was rather expelled from it. As was naturally to be expected, the BMD is mourning while at the BDP it’s Champagne time. Politics, I always say, is like football: no room for the faint-hearted. Politics and football were invented for two inevitable outcomes: lose or win. Ntuane has brought elation to the BDP while the BMD are left elegiac. Even though Ntuane’s departure is a terrible blow to their gains, I doubt it came with any shock enormous enough to warrant a nervous breakdown on the BMD. Even though it was clearly in the offing, I think the BMD should be grateful that his departure only happened after a lot of what appears to have been procrastination on his part which must have given the BMD ample time to have their shock absorbers in check. Unless they suffer from some dangerous political naivety, the BMD should have seen this one coming. That said, it will be a political solecism to expect the BMD to accept the loss of Ntuane with cheerful faces. On the day of his resignation, their depression must have reached its nadir. You see, losing someone of Ntuane’s calibre can bring devastation to any political party. For the BMD, the loss of Ntuane is akin to bereavement in the family. Have you ever had that uncle or any family member you loved so dearly and he gets terminally ill for a long time to a point where you finally give up on his recuperation? You might think you are prepared for his death but when he finally kicks the bucket you find yourself crying and finding it hard to come to terms with his death even as it had long been clear his days were numbered. That’s exactly how it must be for the BMD because for quite a long time they thought they were ready for Ntuane’s departure only to realise last week that nothing ,even time, could have prepared them for such a loss. You see, there are various factors that could have led to Ntuane’s ‘back love’ with the BDP. Surely something compelled him to leave the BMD. I will not claim to know with certainty what broke the camel’s back. I will however, try to base my speculations on the character that is Botsalo Ntuane. Ntuane likes robust debates.

Ntuane has a soft heart and easily falls prey to manipulators. He can be too trusting. Though a jolly guy, he is also short-tempered. Ntuane is a smart thinker. Oh! And Ntuane likes the good life! Now the question becomes: did Ntuane have the luxury of intellectual and open-minded debates and the good life at the BMD? Did Ntuane have people he could trust any more at the BMD? Answers to these questions can help unravel the mystery that surrounds Ntuane’s change of heart over the BMD.

Like I already mentioned, Ntuane believes in substantive discussions and debates. When he brings up an issue for discussion, he wants you to agree with him unless you have sound reasons to convince him otherwise. He enjoys the exchange of reasons. I strongly suspect Ntuane’s disinterest in the BMD started at the party’s policy forum meeting in Ramotswa. Ntuane, in good faith I believe, came up with the idea that the BMD should consider a working relationship with the BDP. The idea turned out to be a genesis of his fallout with his colleagues in the party. While Ntuane is said to have advanced his reasons for his suggestion, those who opposed his idea failed to intellectually explain why such can’t happen. I have mentioned that he is short tempered and as such he must have gotten irritated that while he was trying to put a ‘plan B’ on the table for discussion, his colleagues only raised reservations without reasons. It must have disappointed Ntuane that after he had presented his proposal and when he was expecting his colleagues to advance their reasons as to why the BMD cannot work with the BDP, the only reason advanced was the unreasonable “we can’t work with Satan”. To Ntuane, that must have come as a stupid answer deficient in substance. It must have frustrated Ntuane that instead of his colleagues adopting his idea or atleast try knocking some sense into him against it, they now started to look at him differently. Ntuane wanted a deal for the entire BMD even as the BDP was interested only in him. The BDP was pursuing him but he instead wanted party to party talks. He didn’t succeed with his colleagues and he must have feared a situation where BDP and BMD would now be cannibalising each other in marginal areas. He must have wanted to borrow leaf from Tsvangirai who works with Mugabe or Kibaki with Odinga or even next door where the ANC works with the Boers. Ntuane was now becoming the odd one amongst his colleagues, attracting criticism even from fellow opposition parties who were accusing him of not being ‘opposition enough’. That is just one of the many reasons that could have forced Ntuane to go back to the BDP. Let’s look at another possible reason for his defection. Remember I have mentioned that Ntuane is gullible and easily becomes the target for manipulators. It is therefore possible that in recruiting him, the BDP assured him of reconciliation and he believed them. Khama must have assured Ntuane that he will change the way he runs the party and the country and Ntuane believed him.

During his meetings with Khama, Ntuane must have been convinced that the president has indeed forgiven him and has forgotten about their past spats. Khama is a charmer and I believe during his t├¬te-├á-t├¬te with Ntuane, he displayed himself as a repented oppressor and on seeing Khama’s wisdom teeth Ntuane must have believed that indeed all was now well between him and Khama. Remember I told you Ntuane can be too trusting at times.

And now let’s go through the third possible reason for his defection. Gossip mongers enjoy this one very much. Did the BDP government offer Ntuane some material or monetary reward for his come back? Well, perhaps the question should be, do we expect Ntuane or the BDP leadership to divulge such information to us if at all it is true? Ntuane loves the good life and he is not apologetic about it so yes, it could be possible the BDP offered him silver and gold for him to return to the party.

Afterall a man has to eat. Do you think I would be wasting my time bashing and barking at the BDP through this column if they were to buy my silence or conformity with a good offer? Well I’m not putting a ‘for sale’ tag on my head but I’m just trying to face reality. The one thing though that I’m happy about is, Ntuane knows Khama very well and whatever deal they entered into to lure him back, I bet it had to be on paper as Ntuane knows very well what befell those who jumped for verbal promises. Obviously Ntuane knows that the Khama of two years ago who made him leave the BDP is still the same Khama of today and therefore he might have chosen to rejoin the party nonetheless but will avoid any altercations with Khama or will conform to his leadership style for the sake of the deal that they struck. Ntuane is smart and I have no doubt he looked at life beyond 2014 or even outside politics. The one thing we should bear in mind is, it’s not everyone at the BDP who is celebrating Ntuane’s return. While Ntuane may have just returned without any expectation for a ministerial post, Khama may just decide to reward him with a cabinet post. Afterall, Ntuane is cabinet material and Khama will find it easy to drop one of his many useless ministers to create space for Ntuane. This will then brew some disgruntlement amongst those who stayed with the party even when they were not happy with Khama’s leadership. The end will then be the beginning of factions in the BDP. Not that they don’t exist at the moment.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.