Thursday, January 21, 2021

“Opposition talks have to get transparent”

Rre Mike Dingake never gets this upset; at least not in the writings of his that I have come across. Mmegi’s As i see it, of October 18, 2011 refers. Defending the progress made in the opposition talks, Rre Dingake stopped short of telling critics to back-off. In not so many sentences apart, the usually cool Rre Dingake told off the ‘doomsayers’, ‘fidgety observers’, ‘assorted quarters’, ‘latecomers’ and ‘passersby’ to mind their own business. Their wrong? They (myself included) dared question the supposed secrecy surrounding the talks.

His emotions, are however understandable but at the same time they fail the test of reasonability. It is understandable for opposition politicians to be wary of who says what about their project. But it is similarly unreasonable for someone in Rre Dingake’s mould to attempt to shush everyone, save for himself and a few others, on a project we all have interest in, directly or indirectly. Granted, political parties are private entities by registration but it is in their interest to function in the public interest.

I think it is political hypocricy for Rre Dingake and the rest of the opposition to take reasonable criticism as interference. The reason the BDP seems so vulnerable nowadays lies in their newly refurbished adversity to criticism, its arrogance and terrible loss of modesty. The contagion seems to have spread into the opposition, if Rre Dingake’s article is anything to go by.

Rre Dingake lost me when he appeared to frown at the use of CODESA as a possible benchmark but almost immediately piled praise on the CODESA outcome. Possibly in a nostalgic trance he told of how the talks defied all the distracting winds. All that is said now is that our opposition talks must attempt to reach that level of public involvement.

May be, i must, as early as now, attend to the gist of Rre Dingake’s article, which is that their pot does not need too many cooks. That alone is problematic to me. I thought the essence of democracy, even without relying on greek philosophies, is exactly that many cooks do not necessarily spoil the chowder. The beauty of democracy, so i thought, lies in its inclusiveness.

Democracy is about everyone stirring the broth, Rre Dingake. It does not sound practical of course, but the closer we get there the better. Democracy should not be like our rotho (traditional wild spinach) that becomes bitter with continuous stirring. It is also not the 2 minutes noodles or instant coffee that needs minimum effort to make them edible.

The current opposition excitement gives us the opportunity to ignite our democracy and put up enviable standards for the region and continent. While it is true that opposition unity ‘ke botsetse , bo a ilelwa,’ as Rre Gilson Saleshando once said, it is however important to shorten the confinement period and allow the baby to mingle with the outside community at the earliest possible convenience. The caretakers of this project must not be overly possessive and edgy lest it loses its national appeal. Once this happens the caretakers would not have the people behind them when the opportunistic detractors start gnawing deliriously at every mistake made.

Lack of transparency does not necessarily mean something is been mischievously hidden but it creates perception towards that. You would think with the experience our politicians have on these issues they would be better placed to understand this than some of us. Rre Dingake must know that he cannot explain away the opposition’s reluctance to take people with them as they meander through frustrations, disappointments and triumphs to sustain the fragile talks. People want to feel it too; it is a historical moment that must not be denied those present at the time regardless of their positions. One of the reasons usually given is that parties use their internal structures to give more information on the project and i find that reasoning quiet unwise, especially in a country where many, if not most, voters are not part of these structures.

I am a firm believer in transparency and open governance. Like a herb, transparency is seldom overdosed. It is also prescribable to almost everyone; not just the ruling BDP but the opposition as well. Just like some herbs, transparency has the ability to expose hidden ailment that could be attended to pre cancerously. Even in our traditional culture, ‘molemo wa sekaku ke go se phunya’; that is to say, open government or transparency is itself a medicine to various challenges.

The opposition collective must find ways of dealing with their challenges and avoid reaching for the censorship gauntlet whenever there is discord in their music. Yes, the dissenters could be in the minority, like rre Lebang Mpotokwane said on radio the other day, but hey, don’t they always start in the minority? Besides, since when has the opposition propagated exclusion based on the minority excuse?

In conclusion, I must say I find Rre Dingake’s broth analogy quiet revealing. It explains the attitude of our leaders, right across the political spectrum. To them the public immediately surrenders its participation right by electing representatives. According to Rre Dingake the public must be content with just submitting campaign slogans because in any case transparency is not absolute. This ‘absolute’ thing is quite a familiar escapism to justify assault on accountability.

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