Spencer Mogapi’s zeal to bash President Seretse Khama Ian Khama at every turn gets the better of him in The Watchdog edition of June 8-14, 2008. Surely, Mogapi, in his lofty position of Deputy Editor of The Sunday Standard, should know by now that even op-eds have to be buttressed by facts and not mere conjecture, gossip and innuendo.
There was a time when reporters used to insert their opinion into straight news. When they were finally caught out, they resorted to opinion pieces. However, even opinion pieces have be to backed up by facts lest they turn into slander. Regrettably, Mogapi falls into the latter category. He does not want to allow reason and facts to get in the way of another Khama bashing op-ed. Mogapi labours under the illusion that all he needs to do is throw around pejorative epithets such as “BDP Master Plan”, “Leader”, “Commissars” and “Stalinism” to prove Khama’s alleged wrongdoing .
Mogapi proceeds to litter his op-ed with repetitive throwbacks to the Soviet era in a shameless pitiful, sneering, dishonest and pathetic attempt to draw parallels between Khama and Stalin. But again let’s look at the facts. Stalin murdered over 20 million of his people in the USSR. That’s a murderous regime by any measure. And, by the way, he was merely continuing the orgy of murderous dictatorship which was started by Vladimir Lenin. The two men presided over a dictatorial one party Communist regime. After all democracy and communism can never be mentioned in the same breath.
Honourable Ntuane had apparently likened the new liquor regulations to the repressive Saudi and Iranian regimes. While the MP stretched the issue quite a bit because, even in the free world, there are limitations to rampant consumption of alcohol; it is bizarre that this is not even the subject of Mogapi’s ranting about the lack of free speech. The opportunity to fire an anti Khama tirade instead of debating whether Botswana was degenerating into another Iran was just too tempting for Mogapi’s angry pen.
Although Mogapi enjoys the constitutional right to express his political views about President Ian Khama and the BDP leadership, it is irresponsible for him to impute unfounded misdemeanors against President Khama and the BDP’s Central Committee.
It is somewhat preposterous for Mogapi to find fault with the BDP for advising a prominent party member to be discreet in the manner in which he handles the issue of liquor regulations, especially when his views are at odds with not only the BDP’s but the majority of ordinary Batswana.
Obviously Mr. Mogapi and his fellow travelers are fuming that the BDP has been quick to give direction to party members and not allow the debate to descend into chaos. Some of us are, therefore, not worried about Mogapi’s vile comments because he is just shedding crocodile tears.
Mr. Mogapi is entitled to his opinions, as long as they are backed by facts. He, therefore, cannot claim that “our freedoms and abilities are diminishing”!, “it will not be long before party officials, clad in red and black cocktails tell us what to do and how to do it”!, “the same party mandarins will soon tell us what to wear and when to wear it”!, “the BDP Master Plan to curtail liberty is being implemented from within the party backyard” without providing any proof.
If the BDP has a way of resolving their differences without attacking each other through the media, harsh words and physical fights, why can’t Mogapi as a proponent of freedom let them do it their way?
No opposition member can ever be summoned to the BDP leadership for caution in camera and or in public. The BDP leadership cannot call an opposition member to order. Other political parties seek to maintain discipline in their political parties and the BDP never gets into a Mogapi-like frenzy because of that.
Mogapi must recognize the BDP’s right to resolve their differences in their preferred manner and in their well known culture of peace and respect. I don’t think its Mogapi’s business to insult the BDP’s conflict resolution style.
As a board member of Sunday Standard newspaper, Mr. Mogapi, for example, can never allow any member of his newspaper to publicly denigrate his newspaper just because the individual disagrees with a policy introduced and agreed to by his Board of Directors.
The BDP has already been steadfast in its support for the ideals of liberty when Stalinism was in vogue in many parts of Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. We have always supported freedom when Stalin and Lenin were held out as icons of liberty by academics and University of Botswana students.
I wish to conclude by advising fellow BDP members to be careful about the dangers of being feted by the media as “mavericks”, “media savvy” and “darling of the media”. The media, led as it is by die hard lefties, will only accord you that phony respect for as long as you are useful to them. Take heed from US Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain. For a long time McCain basked in the media glory of being the Republican maverick and a frequent critic of George W. Bush. Now that he is running for president, they have chewed him out and have crossed over into a new but unsurprising love affair with Senator Barack Obama.
I am disappointed that Mr. Mogapi seems to confuse the Fourth Estate – unelected as it is – with a Fifth Column.
(Peloetletse is a member of the BDP Culture and Publicity Sub Committee. He writes in his personal capacity)