Thursday, December 3, 2020

“He who pays the piper calls the tune”

We have often been referred to as a nation of debtors. It is not difficult to see why.

As it is, its hard to miss the damage that personal debt is doing to the health of our national politics.

The magnitude of debt among politicians, especially counciullors, has become practically unsustainable.

It is a time bomb waiting to explode. Not only does this anomally derail the trajectory of our politics, it also contaminates the discourse because people are no longer able to say what they stand for. Instead, we have a political leadership that goes around with cap in hand literally begging for money in exchange for the power given them by the voter at the polls.

And they are selling this enormous power in their hands for a song.

Not long ago, the leader of the Botswana National Front went public and complained that a majority of councillors are no longer able to contribute their dues to the party.

He attributed it to debt.

The BNF is not alone in this quagmire.

In fact, from a national perspective, the BNF is in a relatively better position because being in opposition the stakes are much lower.

It is the BDP councillors that we all have to worry about.

They are at the epicentre of the rot currently ravaging the Botswana Democratic party.
Something has to be done about it.

Because many of them are knee-deep in debt, councillors have become easy prey for the marauding political predators that have within their sight some of the most obscene ambitions this country has ever had to deal with.

The contest for the control of the heart and soul of the BDP will be won and lost on the basis of who among the contenders is able to comprehensively put party councillors in their pockets and get them ensconsed theirein.

That person will then have the whole of the BDP to control, manipulate, dominate and even terroriise.

How sad!

In their own right, councillors form a significant constituency of the delegation makeup that will be electing the BDP leadership in Maun. This is because they deal with people at a local level, and as the English would say, all politics are local.

Outside the strength of their own voting block, for the greater part councillors are much better placed than their parliamentary masters when it comes to powerplays over control of ordinary members, who have been reduced to a rather debased position of a voting fodder, mere pawns in a grander contest for control of the party and ultimately of the state.

These dynamics place councillors in an enviable position of being defacto kingmakers.

But are councillors aware of their power? If they are aware, are they sufficiently independent and assertive enough to exercise this massive power wisely without being pulled by the nose?

It is a matter of pardoxical existence that while they are potentially the most powerful link in the ongoing contest for control of the party, fate has also conspired against councillors to make them the Achilles Heel of the entire complex.

Councillors are the most purchaseable. And because many of them are broke, their selling price is very low. Many years ago while studying African history at college, I came across several cases where some African leaders found themselves selling vast tracts of land to Europeans in exchange for a bottle of scottch whisky. Over two hundred years later we find our councillors doing exactly the same seditious crimes as our pre-colonial leaders.

Our councillors are not conscious of the intrinsic high value of the commodity that they are being goaded to give away almost for nothing. They have no idea that once given away getting it back will be much more expensive or worse, impossible.

Who wins the control of the BDP is, however, only half the story. In fact, it is the least of my concerns.

The other half is determined by what happens thereafter.

It is in here that the actions of our councillors become not just irreparable but also unpardonable. Having completed the process of mortgaging their souls, our politicians now have their sights set on selling the country.

Given the ravage caused to our politics on account of the vulnerability of our politicians, the old adage that he who pays the piper calls the tune has never been more apt.

Our political leaders have been reduced to monkeys, while organ grinders are those with deeper pockets who, as it is, are willing to use those pockets to advance their ambitions to call the tune.

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Read this week's paper

The Telegraph December 2

Digital edition of The Telegraph, December 2, 2020.