Saturday, December 3, 2022

Of the BDP’s bulls and dogs

First things first. Congratulations are in order to the newly elected BDP Chairman Samson Moyo Guma and his team. It’s their time to lead (and eat) and people need to respect the decision of the majority of the BDP members. Some of us had dismissed Guma as a dangerous dreamer but he nicely served us humble-pie in Maun over the weekend. His team’s white wash victory over the rival team of Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has re-written the BDP’s history, in many aspects, much as it has evolved the party’s long tradition on many fronts. I enjoyed the duel, I must say. I followed with keen interest. I rejoiced in the shenanigans. The two teams took me back to the days of my all time favourite hip-hop rappers, Notorious B.I.G and Tupac Shakur.

Venson-Moitoi and Guma’s campaign epitomized the ‘beef’ that often exists among hip-hop artists. It was enjoyable, especially for some, like me, who never lost any sleep over the fight for the BDP chairmanship. I endorsed Venson-Moitoi before the BDP congress, but I cared less as to who triumphs because my view has always been that the BDP will only change with the change of its president and not its chairman. Some time before the BDP national congress, Venson-Moitoi was quoted in the media as having likened herself to a pit-bull dog that never gives up easily in a fight. I chuckled in awe at Venson-Moitoi’s confidence. I like confident women. However, even as I smiled at Venson-Moitoi’s ‘pit-bull’ tenacity, I never imagined a jab would come her way in rebuttal. Just like Tupac would respond to Notorious B.I.G, Guma has released a ‘hit back’. He has cut the ‘pit-bull dog’ to size. After hammering Venson-Moitoi in Maun, Guma was invited to one of the local radio stations where he was asked to explain how he managed to triumph against all the odds that were seemingly stacked against him. His response seemed to be directed at Venson-Moitoi’s pit-bull metaphor. Guma has likened himself to a bull that always triumphs against dogs, which are only good at barking. In his own words, Guma says “…a bull walks though the village and dogs always charge and bark at the bull but the bull just ignores and walks through”. Ouch!!

Because I have no enemies in the BDP, I was able to interact with members from both camps. Yes, I ate, drank and went to the club with members from both Guma and Venson-Moitoi’s camp and I must say BDP members are fun and loving to be with, socially. Each team had reasons for not belonging or supporting the other team, obviously. Some people gave sound reasons to back their selection between the two camps. Others gave trivial reasons that bordered on naivety. While I will not divulge reasons that were given by the different people I met in Maun, as I was not there to spy on them, I can only share my observations. Look, there are many reasons why Guma stood for chairmanship and why he eventually won the race. Those who want to ride on our naivety want us to believe Guma was allowed to contest the central committee elections as a way for the BDP to prove that Ian Khama is a forgiving leader. Those who appear to be jealous say Guma won because he was buying votes. Khama has also managed to successfully fool many BDP members to believe he was impartial and did not rally behind any of the two teams. Well, here I must give him credit because I feel it was important for him to appear before BDP members as being impartial.

While he successfully fooled them, I am not one to be fooled over issues that are as obvious as the sun rising from the east. I hope Venson-Moitoi wasn’t fooled to believe Khama supported her on the basis of their reported close friendship. While I have no doubt Khama likes Venson-Moitoi, I have no reason to believe Khama likes her more than the people in Guma’s team. For starters, had Khama preferred Venson-Moitoi over Guma Moyo, it would have been easy for Venson-Moitoi to become BDP chairman, unopposed. Khama would never have allowed the BDP to break its rules just so as to accommodate Guma. The reality is, Khama and Guma have kissed and made up and are now in good terms, all thanks to their mutual friend Thapelo Olopeng, whom the BDP should thank for I have no doubt he is the one who managed to convince Guma to trace his steps back into the BDP. On why or how Guma and his team won the elections is also obvious. Guma won the elections because his team is made up of people who do not only have money, but are willing to spend it on what they set out to achieve. By spending lots of money on the delegates, Guma was not re-inventing political campaigning in this country. I am shocked that BDP members from the rival camp seem shocked that money brought Guma victory when they know very well that Guma only borrowed a leaf from the mother party which is known to splash money on voters before elections. Look, there is only one reason we all want to become rich. We simply want money that will work for us. We want to be able to get everything we want and as such I don’t understand why people have a problem with Guma using his money to get what he wants. Did Guma steal that money? If you give me the proof then maybe we can talk. Guma won simply because he is a man, a man with money.

The majority of the people who attend and vote in these political congresses are women and women are not known to be supportive of other women. Guma changed the whole tradition of BDP congresses and it was only proper that he gets rewarded. Guma used his money to take care of the majority of the delegates and it was only plausible that he gets rewarded for his ‘noble’ gesture. For the first time in the history of BDP congresses, many people slept in hotels, some being their first time to experience such luxury.

People had decent meals throughout the congress. Guma took care of their accommodation, food and transportation. I am not implying that the other camp didn’t take care of the delegates but the results show that Guma’s camp took care of the needs of many delegates if we are to believe people voted according to the camps the belonged to and which made their trips to Maun possible. It was also evident, even from the people I spoke to, that team Guma visited many, if not all, constituencies to sell their candidates. While Venson-Moitoi probably relied on her ministerial trips to squeeze in her campaign, the other team was well resourced to cover their expenses and visit as many places because they didn’t rely on government vehicles and GPO air tickets.

While I can write a book about the Maun congress, today I just wanted to remind people, especially BDP members, to stop ‘barking’ at Guma with accusations that he won because he used his money.

Winning elections using money doesn’t start with Guma. In fact, it is a strategy that is used by the mother party and opposition must be very careful because the people who are now leading the BDP are not misers, they have money and they can spend it. Afterall Batswana vote for who can provide a meal today.

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