The opposition Botswana National Front and Botswana Congress Party have revealed that they are making headway in their campaigns for the 2009 general elections partly because of the confusion caused by the raging factional disputes within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party and the disgruntlement bred by its poor governance.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard during the week BCP Secretary General Taolo Lucas and BNF spokesman Moeti Mohwasa said that it is evident that the BDP has lost focus mainly because of the rampant factional infighting within its structures, such that they have now lost sight of the main objective of managing the country effectively and campaigning vigorously ahead of the 2009 general elections.
“Too much energy is spent on internal bickering and heated central committee meetings while the nation is falling apart. This is a sorry state of affairs,” said Lucas on Friday.
He also accused President Ian Khama of abdicating his responsibility of providing the nation with leadership on issues of national interest, like the economy, health and education and also becoming part and parcel of the comedy that is the BDP’s internal bickering.
“Because of this, civil liberties are disrespected with impunity and the nation ambles along in confusion amidst the president’s deafening silence,” he said.
However, Lucas maintained that the BCP remains focused on their preparations for the general elections.
“Our campaigns are rolling out smoothly and our cooperation with the Botswana Alliance Movement and our group member New Democratic Front is holding water,” he said.
Taolo said that they have, over the last few months, witnessed a spectacular upsurge in the number of people who are willing to cast their vote for the BCP, especially in their targeted areas. He, however, said that they are alive to the fact that the BDP’s internal problems and the disgruntlement bred by their way of governance do not necessarily translate to votes for the BCP, and therefore they continue to mobilize their resources to target individual voters.
“We have clearly highlighted in our manifesto that this is a nation at cross roads. It is up to the individual voters, those who are willing to vote for the alternative, to choose who they want to govern this nation,” he said.
But Lucas lamented the fact that despite the progress that they have made, they are still faced with insurmountable hurdles, among them lack of resources, which make their ambition of toppling the monolith that is the BDP even harder to achieve.
“One of the major detrimental factors in this campaign is lack of information and resources. It is disheartening that despite protestations, the BDP continues to use state resources and the media to push its campaign forward. By manipulating the state media, the BDP is able to hoodwink Batswana by giving them a false impression of a peaceful and tranquil Botswana, while at the same time portraying the BDP as the ultimate party of choice in the absence of a robust opposition,” he said.
For his part Botswana National Front spokesman, Moeti Mohwasa, said that while the opposition has every right to manipulate the opportunities presented by the blunders of the BDP, they must first and foremost honour their patriotic responsibility of voicing concern about the deteriorating state of affairs.
“What is happening now is nothing new. These are the very dangers that we warned the nation about. But we are not sitting on our laurels. We continue to hold protest marches against unjust legislations and decisions like the draconian media practitioners bill, the intelligence bill, the decision to raise the alcohol levy, school fees and even the decision to raise the cut off point for sponsorship to 40 points,” he said.
Mohwasa added that, true to their word, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security has become an uncontrollable beast that targets members of the public, including university students, members of the opposition, media practitioners and even dissenters within the BDP.
“The BDP has transformed our parliament into an organ that only creates oppressive laws but fails to debate objectively on issues of national interest. The president even disregards the independence of our judiciary by throwing the advice of the Judiciary Services Commission out the window. All these are pointers that our democracy is on the decline, and this is what we are always appealing to the electorate to be wary of,” he said.
“The BDP is also putting this country in danger by bestowing too much power on the president. It does not mean that as a president, one has monopoly of wisdom,” he warned.
He, however, said that it is encouraging to note that their message is reaching home even within the BDP fold, as dissent is also becoming evident within the ruling party itself.
Mohwasa warned Batswana to vote wisely because Botswana is showing signs of a democracy in gestation. He said that prior dictatorships have always weakened the press and stripped it of its oversight and watchdog role through unjust laws like the media bill.
“Our own DIS has marked similarities to Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organization. There is always an erosion of parliament’s oversight role as evidenced in the BDP’s caucus system and the decision that oversight bodies report to the minister and the president and not to parliament,” said Mohwasa in conclusion.