“Jacob Nkate’s supporters inside the ruling BDP have attacked the efficacy of going ahead with the party’s Central Committee elections next year. The faction’s foremost strategist, Raphael Dingalo, says Central Committee elections are likely to not only destabilize the party but also stretch the contestants’ resources at the time when they have to prepare for a General Election. It hurts that Dr. Dingalo elects to use his sizeable intellect to spearhead what is essentially a brash onslaught against inner party democracy”, writes Spencer Mogapi in the Watchdog Column. And what is Raphael Dingalo’s sin?
Raphael Dingalo’s sin is that he crafted an article calling on the BDP to suspend central committee elections on the basis of Arrows impossibility theorem which shows that there are times in which majority voting may fail to yield a stable outcome. To prove that majority voting has in some instances failed to yield a stable outcome, Raphael Dingalo used the past BDP primary elections as a case study. I pointed out that however, it was fortunate primary elections were held much earlier to allow for a healing process amongst disgruntled primary elections losers.
In light of the foregoing, I pointed to the dangers of holding central committee elections a few months before the general elections. I also made it clear that every Tom, Dick and Harry knows that this will indeed result in split campaigning. My call is for the BDP to prioritize on the basis of the bigger picture and to go for gold instead of bronze. There has never been an opportune moment for the BDP to capture seats from the opposition BNF and BCP particularly seats in the Gaborone constituencies. These are very strategic seats and we should do everything to win them over.
I hold dearly that the BDP, central committee elections or not, will prevail and eventually triumph in the 2009 general elections. Chances are that we shall extend our representation in Parliament if we do not engage in split campaigning, and if we consolidate our resources, both monitory and physical in the campaigns for general elections.
I would want, at this juncture, to give a hypothetical and imaginary situation showing why I believe that going for central committee elections will dent our fortunes. Supposedly, if Gomolemo Motswaledi were to stand against current Secretary General Jacob Nkate for the position of Secretary General as happened in the 2007 Congress, the probability is that either Gomolemo Motswaledi or Jacob Nkate will be victorious. I shall not want to go into the levels of probability in this article as that is an internal Party matter.
As BDP members, we must deeply reflect on what the implications of the aforementioned probability are. This is also taking into consideration that these two candidates are vying for parliamentary seats not only in ordinary but marginal constituencies. In the event Jacob Nkate emerges victorious, the BDP would have provided the BCP candidate and seating MP Dumelang Saleshando with an ‘on the sport penalty’ and massive fire power on which to launch a blitzkrieg against Motswaledi who will then be a seating duck. The same applies to Jakes Nkate should Motswaledi emerge victorious.
If we, therefore, let sleeping dogs lie, both Gomolemo Motswaledi and Jakes Nkate will give a spirited fight in their constituencies without carrying any baggage, and free from fatigue. We cannot short chain ourselves into missing this golden opportunity to have both the affable Gomolemo Motswaledi and the effervescent Jacob Nkate in Parliament, over central committee elections that are after all held every 2 years. For now, we must throw all our punches towards the opposition and not at ourselves hence the proposal to suspend central committee elections.
The counter proposal against suspending central committee elections, of course, suits others very well, and mainly the opposition. Dumelang Saleshando is keeping his fingers crossed and praying day and night that we go for central committee elections. And if that is to happen, he is course-plotting for Motswaledi’s demise so that he rides rough over the wounded ‘buffalo soldier’. Ask Dumelang Saleshando, (now Spencer Mogapi, if he is honest enough and not playing the game close to his chest) he will let it be known that he wants Jacob Nkate to win and make his return to Parliament much easier. I wish Dums could be honest enough ÔÇô wishful thinking!!! The same applies to the BCP/BAM candidate in Ngami, they are licking their fingers in anticipation that the BDP will go for central committee elections. Mind you, these two constituencies are in the foremost of BCP priorities.
The BDP should be mindful of the trap waylaid by the anti BDP crusade that holds to the perilous belief that the Party has been in power for too long and are hell-bent on stopping the Party in its tracks. Whilst I could be persuaded to hold the view that Spencer Mogapi falls amongst this anti BDP crusade, I am, however, of the opinion that his analysis of BDP events is based on a ‘corrupted and rusty conceptual framework’ conditional on the past era of BDP factions. As a case in point that he is overly obsessed with dead and buried BDP factions, he writes, “Again, it is hurting to see that Dr. Dingalo deliberately chooses not to advise his factional friends to make a clear-sighted distinction between what is right and wrong”, and again, as quoted earlier, he pens, “The faction’s foremost strategist, Raphael Dingalo, says…” It should, therefore, be clear to fellow Democrats that Spencer Mogapi is dangling a dangerous ‘faction’ carrot to destabilize us.
For the benefit of those still living in the past, the BDP has dealt a deathblow to factions and no one should be afforded an opportunity to take us back to those dark days. We must, therefore, all (those for and against central committee elections) reject Spencer Mogapi’s sugar coated albeit sour advise and remain true to our values of being a mature democracy able to discuss and take decisions openly and in the best interest of the Party. Ma Domkrag!! beware of wolves in sheep skin.
In rejecting Spencer Mogapi’s advice, we must at the same time disabuse him of his narrow interpretation of ‘democracy’ as ‘democracy’ to him simply means casting a vote. As I indicated in my article, we must, when pondering on this matter, consider adopting ‘deliberative’ democracy, which is “the shift from purely voting based decision making to decision making based on the informational, argumentative, reflective and social aspects of deliberation” (John S. Dryzek and Christian List, 2003).
The call, therefore, on BDP members to consider freezing central committee elections out of goodwill and not under duress, is motivated by the desire to see BDP increase its share of popular vote and also to recapture some of the seats held by the opposition. I would wish to stress that the ‘bulela ditswe’ case study provides valuable data on which to reach a decision. The issue is not so much that we shall be routed by the opposition should we go for central committee elections, but that we definitely increase the probability of winning more seats from the opposition, and also decrease the probability of loosing same. Not bronze, not silver, we must go for gold.
*Dr Dingalo is a BDP activist. He writes in his personal capacity.