Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Party loyalty and the right to make noise about everything: a mixture of heaven and hell!

Our nation is presently divided into two camps that are increasingly hostile and resentful of each other, each with its own incompatible worldview that they present as the one and only valid interpretation of life.

As a result of this blatant political partisanship, Botswana has entered a politics of high-stakes elections where a loss is not an option and party leaders cannot offer a guarantee that they will accept defeat. The high-stakes elections invariably justify full blast campaign tactics and present politics as an all-out warfare that unapologetically disregard fair play.

On the one hand we have the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with its loyal members and those that are not aligned to it but are somewhat uncomfortable with the approach taken by the opposition to win state power and/or address their queries relating to allegations of vote rigging in the 2019 General Election.

This camp talks about securing our sovereignty against wealthy foreign individuals and groups with blemished personalities. They argue that the opposition’s propensity to partner with discredited foreign nationals points to their willingness and readiness to parcel out Botswana’s resources to these dishonorable and bloodthirsty foreign nationals.

The camp projects the opposition as wicked, diabolic and stinking crooks whose greed is legendary and that anyone who support or sympathize with the opposition is guilty by association.

They denigrate their opponents for warming up to foreign takeover of Botswana. They presents the opposition and all those who are not on the BDP side as an unholy alliance that is aiding enemies of Botswana who want to grab our resources and even blow us up if need be.

The BDP and its constituents consider themselves as genuine patriots who have been ordained to protect Botswana from local and external demons. They see themselves as authentic and legitimate citizens with a divine calling to be in charge of the affairs of the republic until the second coming.

They view the opposition as a troop of seasoned gangsters who intends to turn a tranquil Botswana into a hotspot of violent politics and a festival of chaos that threaten the very existence of the republic. They are convinced that should Batswana ever make a ‘mistake’ and give the opposition a mandate to govern, that would mark the end of Botswana as a sovereign state.

The BDP and to some extent, those who have been pushed away from the opposition course by its mode of operation would seem to prefer the opposition to remain permanent losers and are actively feeding citizens with scary stuff intended to make them hate the opposition mainly for being sold out to foreign mafia.

On the other hand, we have the opposition collective, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) with its passionate members buoyed by belligerent former President Dr Khama and his overzealous fans. This camp presents the ruling BDP and its constituent parts as incorrigible thieves and organized stealthy criminals who have looted the economy more than can be expressed in words.

The camp has also adopted its delegitimizing narrative and is propagating a story that the BDP stole the election and therefore are an illegitimate government. They present the ruling BDP and all those who are not on the UDC side as mean-spirited, low-lives who have either been blackmailed or have become conditioned to live in squalor and disease that they cannot imagine a better life.

They subscribe to the view that those in the other camp are brainwashed sell outs or traitors who deserve to be treated worse than pets. Ultimately and worringly, their extreme position holds that President Dr Masisi is not their president because he is illegitimate.

As a result of this hyper polarization and flagrant political partisanship, the Botswana society has two distinct camps that have irreconcilable worldviews and perspectives about Botswana and more importantly, about who is a bona fide citizen.

The new hyper polarized Botswana has no option for neutrals. It is either one has to identify or be identified with the ruling BDP and become an enemy of the opposition or vice versa. Political parties have become poison factories that manufacture political extremism and package it as a weapon of mass destruction.

Party politics have morphed into partisan conflicts where competition for political office takes the character of chemical warfare with the sole aim of eliminating opponents and their sympathizers, in the literal sense.

In doing so, the warring camps ought to present imaginary enemies to those on their side in order to breed and sustain hostility hence all of us are seeing enemies everywhere. For purposes of legitimizing their extreme views about each other, the camps would naturally have to maintain the right enemies and create more of such.

Whereas it is normal that political competition would often breed conflict, it has to be noted that when blatant partisanship inundate reason, democracy is crippled and society returns to the animal kingdom. Blatant partisanship manifests itself when party loyalists become unreasonably biased and endemically irrational in the way they interpret events.

The situation of hyper partisanship in Botswana offers no room for a compromise. The ruling BDP frames the opposition as permanent losers who have now roped in rogue international predators for a second bite at the apple, while the opposition believes that the BDP’s time is up and that if push comes to shove, external intervention should be enlisted. In effect, The BDP camp wants to hold on power while the other clique of locals and foreigners fight to seize power, by the ballot or the barrel.

This polarity has morphed into a very distinct division of society that revolves around ‘us’ and ‘them’. The BDP camp sees the opposition as people serving the interests of criminal syndicates that want to loot our resources whereas the opposition projects the BDP and the so-called patriots that sympathize with the establishment as evil, corrupt and Satanists who should burn in hell.

This is the ugly situation that Botswana finds itself in; that partisanship has made politics an emotional life and death game that threatens national cohesion. In consequent, Botswana politics have become more about anger, contempt and hatred.

Listening to incumbent Head of State, His Excellency President Dr Masisi threatening to respond fully to his detractors and former President Dr Khama threatening to hurt Botswana and throw the country into complete turmoil if need be and also alleging that the current administration has lost legitimacy to govern, one immediately recognizes that there is no room for a compromise. It is war that would probably end when one of these two is completely vanquished or eliminated.

The extreme positions of these two personalities mirror the broader polarization of the Botswana society with President Dr Masisi representing the BDP camp and their allies while Dr Khama represents the other camp christened the axis of evil.

The level of hatred and anger displayed by these two big men implies that respect for each other no longer exists, in which case our politics resemble a boxing match somewhere in the planet of the apes.

We certainly cannot be proud of our national politics at the moment because it has been turned into a silly game where egos of our leaders are at play while followers compete in making the loudest stupid noise. In its current form, our politics is a waste of emotions and represents lost opportunities and lives that have been destroyed.

Our politics has made us evil, demonic and sorry beings worse than dogs that feed on their vomit. It makes us treat each other not like human beings but the stupidest organisms created to fill up nature’s space. In its present form, our politics discourages reason while promoting endemic irrationality, group think and gutter talk by those who confuse vulgarity with fame.

Yet, Batswana know that they can be better than political thugs and that they deserve better leadership from both camps. However, the reality is that this unfortunate experience is down to our individual and collective carelessness and recklessness attitude about party politics wherein we simply endorse party position or decisions in order to merely show loyalty.

Our propensity to denigrate our competitors on grounds of partisanship is the source of our misery. Batswana must rise above blind partisanship in order that we remain sane when some of our irritable leaders get over-excited and crazed with power.

As things are, we are at our wits with the ruling party indecisive like a naked witch that overstayed at a victims house, while the opposition is apparently getting to double-dip like a swine at a cocktail party.

Merry Christmas folks! May we recommit ourselves to leading our country back to prosperity and peace!

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