It is true that our movement has lost, over the course of this week, a treasurer general, the honourable MP, Odirile Motlhale. The loss of any leader, member or any foot-soldier is an experience that inflicts wounds within the hearts of our people. It is an event that is also a source of disappointment to all those who have lent their goodwill and hands to the work of our movement, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (and indeed its umbrella partners).
Yet our loss should not be allowed to blind our people of the immense strides that now characterize the work of our members towards providing our country with an alternative government, a government determined to push back the irresponsible habits of the current BDP-led government. The idea of a broad-based government with the requisite personnel and policies to bring out the best potential in our people is within reach. It takes conviction, character and our combined efforts to lift our country to a higher gear of broad-based economic opportunities and prosperity; de-centralized, effective and fair governance; and greater social harmony.
Taking our country to greater heights requires a change of Government, a change that is preceded by serious preparation around how we do things, how we bring forth the depth of talent within our people, how we work with other community and political formations, how we teach and learn from each other, how we exercise patience and how we focus on the things that matter.
We are aware that the loss of a leader especially on the heels of others who left before him invites criticism, scepticism and cynicism against our efforts. Those who believe we are a mirage without a meaningful stand or that we are operators sponsored by or working for the ruling elite are finding occasion to put on their dancing shoes, to celebrate what they have always hoped is the demise of our marvellous movement. We shouldn’t blame them for dancing to a false song, but neither should they (our detractors) imagine that the dance floor is where the future of our people resides.
It is certain that we, those who lead the movement at this moment, are not perfect. We should take responsibility for the circumstances of confusion and chaos that the constant defections are implanting among our people (on all sides of the political divide). The responsibility we should accept though, is not that there are defections at all or that there will be defections or that we should have been able to arrest this tide ÔÇô no. This is normal, throughout history, in the course of any serious political struggle.
The responsibility we must embrace is that we failed to communicate effectively to our colleagues, our members and the nation that our journey is a perilous one ÔÇô that it is a journey whose success will entail great losses along its wake, a path that will inflict immense disappointments along the way. There is no way that our movement (and its umbrella partners) can hope to govern an entire nation without experiencing the type of set-backs that we are now facing.
Some of our members find these set-backs disheartening and discouraging. But we should not allow our frustrations to translate into a conveyer-belt of attack against our Former Treasurer-general, Hon Motlhale, for the choices he makes as a leader and citizen. The right to make these decisions, and still be treated fairly based on personal content, is very much part of a system of fairness that we say we wish to inculcate within our nation. We ought to live by this conviction. In fact, although I have rarely interacted on a social basis with Hon Motlhale, I have had occasion in the past to interact with him professionally and in official meetings. I have found him refreshingly balanced, possessing an independent mind free of undue or petty influence. He has not intimated to me his reasons for departure, but we ought to respect his decision, and move on with the work ahead of us. The responsibilities ahead of us are momentous.
We should not lose sight of the responsibility that many citizens have placed on our shoulders. Our lives are not ours anymore – our lives belong to others too. Our people’s hopes for their children, their hopes to be granted a chance to prove themselves, their hopes to secure a home, their hopes to further their education, their hopes to realise a business a break-through, their hopes to express themselves in their languages, their hopes to be the best they can be, and their hopes to be treated fairly, rest with us. This is a responsibility we must see through.
We are fortunate to have the depth of leaders who possess the vision, talent and character; and activists with immeasurable determination and sense of purpose. Despite the criticisms that are being levelled against our party leaders, specifically presidents Boko (of the BNF) and Motswaledi (of the BMD) (and less so president Molapisi of the BPP), I have relished my work with them outside the public glare, which work is just the vaccine that affords me the tranquil nights of sleep every night. We need not worry about, or hurl insults at, the BDP, it will implode on its own. Our assignment is to prepare for this day of implosion, and ensure we are ready when that time comes. This time will come.
We are privileged that our umbrella partners, the BNF and the BPP, their leaders and many of their activities carry with them great faith and love for this nation. Collectively, we must fight to the very end. We must launch our fight in every homestead, in every cattle-post, in every hilltop. We must fight this in every spazza-shop, in every supermarket, in every house, in every road.
We must take the fight along the river-banks of our dry streams, and in the clear channels of the Okavango. We must bring the fight to the Seabelo Express, Motlogelwa Express and AT&T bus liners. We must wield our dreams in the markets, in the schools and in the hospitals. We must keep going. We are the hope of this nation. We must not stop until we take back this country to the people.
*Gaolathe is BMD Deputy Leader