Thursday, September 24, 2020

Postponing the Constitutional Review debate will eventually prove fatal

The problem with the ongoing debate on whether or not the Constitution should be reviewed is that rumblings from either side of the debate are irredeemably flawed.

Although the debate has been split into two camps, members of the public have not been invited to the party.

Not only has the debate been personalized, it also has been privatized.

We should not be surprised.
It is perfectly in line with what has been going on inside the ruling party.
The entire world view has been divided into two poles.

You are either for Ian Khama or against Ian Khama.

One cannot be anything else. It is a tragedy of our times.

Perhaps we have to learn to live with it.

As the mantra goes ÔÇô and this too was to be expected – it has become a rallying cry of those against Constitutional review to shoot it down because it targets their man.

Paranoia runs through their blood. It is a part of their physiological makeup.
Sadly, those for the review have, as was also to be expected, fallen for the trap.

They have failed to raise the bar beyond Ian Khama.

They have not been generous enough as to broaden the debate by way of calling for a national referendum on the matter.

By so doing they are playing into the hands of scaremongers.

Thus an otherwise national debate has been reduced to the all too familiar BDP claptrap; a carefully orchestrated political strategy that has as its roots in the battle for control of the soul of the party.

On one hand is the defeated faction, which wants to use the debate as a come back platform.

On the other is the triumphant and dominant faction, which has been shameless in its deployment of the debate to further consolidate their stay on the top.

Overplaying a patriotism card, this faction has literally wrapped the national flag around Ian Khama, ruthlessly using and abusing him as their factional emblem.

What is fatally lacking, and none of the two factions seems to see anything wrong with it has been the public voice.
This has cheapened the debate. No wonder the public has walked away, in disgust.

As a nation, we should not allow ourselves to be held at thrall by BDP’s little wars.

If the BDP cannot agree between themselves, morality dictates that they should throw the question to the people on whose behalf they claim to be talking.

And what better way to do that than through a national referendum!
For all their importance as a ruling party, the BDP cannot be trusted to be objective in spearheading such an important issue that is supposed to be debated impartially without partisan outbursts.

As we all know, the BDP are a motley crew of ferociously warring, self destructive interests.
And they have never pretended to be anything else.

But the question still remains.
Does Botswana need a Constitutional Review?

By any standards, this is too important and vexing a question to be answered by a group of no more than 60 politicians inside parliament, a good percentage of which have not earned their entry in there by way of a popular vote.

Even as they so violently differ, our Members of Parliament ÔÇô all of them – seem content with the knowledge that at least for now the debate remains out of bounds for us the lesser mortals.

How ironic that long running personal rivalries and disagreements have been set aside and replaced by a staggering unity of purpose if only to keep the public at bay.

While I cannot figure out a better illustration of just how disengaged and estranged from the people our leaders have become, the truth of the matter is that our combatants are united by a fear to lose. None of the two sides is confident enough that it has sufficient public support to win a referendum.
Not only is this approach by both sides elitist and exclusionist, it is more worryingly inherently undemocratic.

There is no alternative to a more extended, more comprehensive and more inclusive approach to this all too important debate.

Allowing such an important question to be settled by such a few politicians, almost all of whose motives are so clearly suspect and self-serving is akin to fraud.

As a people, we should shun the risk of becoming accomplices to such a crime.
As we all know Botswana government has a terrible reputation of manipulating referendum questions to suit the current mood of a faction that happened to be dominant at the time.

But still there is no alternative to a referendum.

Instead of spurning all talk of a referendum, those against it, for they claim to be in a majority, should dare all of us by calling a referendum if only to prove their strength.

Spurning a referendum smacks of a dictatorship by the minority into which, as a country, we have been drifting over the last two years or so.
The onus, therefore, should be on the civic community to seize the debate and run with it.

The President has said he is open to the debate.

Why not take us into his confidence by way of helping him resolve this potentially divisive issue?
Any further postponements can only prove fatal.

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