Thursday, April 25, 2024

“Welcome democracy! Bye – bye inaction!”

President Ian Khama has taken a bold decision to instill discipline within the BDP. It should be understood that at times a leader has to take tough decisions even if they are unpopular if the action is meant for the good of the organisation.

Such tough decisions could be viewed as unpopular in the short term, but they may pay dividends in the long term. The President is setting a firm foundation for peace and stability for the BDP in the long term and BDP hopefuls must rally behind him.

This act of bravery by the President has irked some confused members in the likes of Sonny Serite, who then vented out his frustration and bitterness on Dr Raphael Dingalo.

Sonny Serite writes: “But Dr Raphael Dingalo, either because he shared my sentiments then or perhaps just to prove to Gobotswang that he too, stayed longer at school and got a PhD, responded, albeit a month later. He said, “In the BDP, we do not subscribe to the doctrine and dogma: “Koma ke party, party ke Koma”. The four principles of Democracy, Development, Self-reliance and Unity as a basis for kagisanyo are key determinants and the Party is ‘holier than thou”.

Sonny Serite conveniently failed to capture the following key statement in the same article by Dr Dingalo: “The Khama presidency will thus be characterised by boldness and decisiveness. The country and government will no longer be taxed and paralysed by a condition known as ‘analysis paralysis’ which entails the over-analysis of a specific issue to the point where the issue can no longer be recognised, and the subject of the conversation is lost”. This is precisely what we are witnessing under Khama ÔÇô boldness and decisiveness.

The decisiveness with which President Khama acted is in line with the concept of discipline for which he has openly declared zero tolerance. There is a misconception that democracy means people should do whatever they wish to do.

Democracy operates within agreed and binding rules that the grouping must adhere to, and the leader must be seen to instill discipline and order for the advancement of the grouping.

I shall reproduce below Dr Raphael Dingalo’s interrogation of discipline within the context of democracy, and this is precisely what President Khama is onto. Dr Dingalo professed as follows some time in 2008 when he was still a member of the BDP Culture and Publicity Committee, and I quote in full:

“Undoubtedly, control is key when we debate about discipline. Theories of control tell us that ‘control’, be it at the level of ‘family, educational institute or workplace’, is a given because behaviour is inspired by what a person wants most at any given time: survival, love, power, freedom or any other basic human need, as Glasser points out. In light of the foregoing, there is therefore a need to control and balance what one wants at a given time to avoid chaos and anarchy because we are not living in isolation. For this we control and are controlled at all times within agreed norms and rules of the community.

Control theorists argue that all choices are constrained by implicit social contracts, agreements and arrangements among people. Whereas social control is the ability of social groups or institutions to make norms or rules effective, “personal control is defined as the ability of the individual to refrain from meeting needs in ways which conflict with the norms and rules of the community”. For this reason therefore control is a must, within the concept of discipline.

Because society has implicit norms and rules, there is need for some to impose some form of control in order to exploit the process of socialisation and social learning in order to build self-control and thus reduce the propensity to commit deviant acts and indulgence in anti-social behaviour. The prevailing chaos and anarchy in the BNF is all because its president, Otsweletse Moupo is not in control and there is no discipline in the party. It is this form of control that President SKI Khama refers to as discipline.
Ivan Nye (1958) proposes that there are four types of control: Direct is the manner in which punishment is threatened or applied for wrongful behaviour and compliance is rewarded by parents and authority figures.

Indirectly by which a youth refrains from delinquency through the conscience or superego. Internal, by identification with those who influence behaviour, say because his or her delinquent act might cause pain and disappointment to parents and others with whom he or she has close relationships.

Control through needs satisfaction, that is. If all an individual’s needs are met, there is no point in criminal activity. All these constitute discipline and they are applied in everyday life.

That notwithstanding, behaviour control can be imposed and yet still lead to a positive outcome of one’s socialisation permits. This as I indicated earlier, would be due to the fact that where there is no personal control, resulting in an individual not meeting the norms and rules of the community, behaviour control would be imposed in line with what President SKI Khama intimated, that “Batswana must be reminded that in a democracy, the rights and freedoms of one individual end where those of other citizens begin. Freedoms go hand in hand with responsibility”.

The form of control referred to above is not imposed by the government, but in line with social control, according to the contract that Batswana signed as social groupings or institutions to make norms and rules effective for the better of the country.

Control is also about consensus. As a leader therefore, President SKI Khama has made it abundantly clear that he will enforce the collective mandate bestowed on him by Batswana who believe in consensus, that of discipline amongst others”.

From Dr Dingalo’s interrogation of discipline above, I urge the nation and members of the BDP to rally behind the President for the good of the party and the good of the nation. The President has set out his roadmap and as indicated above, has made it abundantly clear that there will be zero tolerance on indiscipline and he is living his word. Sooner we shall rip the benefits of his actions as a Party.

*MacDonald Peloetletse is a member of the BDP culture and publicity sub-committee


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