Wednesday, September 23, 2020

President Khama should dissolve the BDP ÔÇô he does not need it and nobody can challenge him

Section 41, a law of absolute immunity and total unaccountability, is also a law that, as it turns out, will most likely bring change to Botswana’s political terrain and political weather.

A High Court judgment and a subsequent one by the Court of Appeal, both comfortably and comprehensively perching President Ian Khama above the laws of the land have been in a big way revealing.

The President does not need his party, much less its Central Committee, to run this country.

If that is so why keep an appendage of what has been so much a source of pain, a source of distraction and misery for the President as has been the BDP and all its many feuding committees?
Let’s not hide it; the BDP has been a real nuisance to the President.
They have blocked and obstructed his every step to move forward with his grand plans.

Hence to complete his vision of a well disciplined nation, the President should start by dissolving the BDP.
Let’s face the truth ÔÇô the BDP has until now derailed and divided the President’s attention as he tried to focus on his singular dream of attaining a 70% share of the popular vote.

A total of eight judges ÔÇô three at the High Court and five at the Court of Appeal have unanimously agreed that, being above the law, he does not need his party to run this country.
There has not been a single dissenting voice.

Ours is a crazy system.
First, the President is disengaged from the voters in that he is not directly elected.

Second, he is given untrammeled powers by a raft of laws to literally control anything and everything.

And now we learn, not only is he unaccountable to anyone, he is also above the law.
He has nothing to worry about. We are all at his mercy.

Without asking for it, the man has been handed a blank cheque.
Naturally, and true to his character, he will be on a spending spree quite soon.
It is not Khama’s fault.

He just happens to be a gleeful beneficiary of a system he has played no role in weaving.
But he has to be careful.
Magnanimity and humility should be his counsels.

A good number of Batswana are now disappointed by the law.
While they used to regard the courts as a sanctuary from where to seek redress in times of need, they have now been advised in a somewhat polite fashion of the harsh reality that there are some people who are above the law.
More like an axiom from Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

There is no question that the honeymoon between the public and the BDP is finally over.

This is by no way to say the BDP will lose an election due in two weeks.
Victory for the BDP is almost a given. But it will not be as handsome as its past acts.

That, at least, is the thinking among a great majority of political commentators.

The BDP will win more because the opposition is currently on a freefall and less because they deserve such a win.

Despite a groundswell of popular disaffection and discontent against the BDP in general and Khama in particular, almost all of the other pretenders on offer appear somewhat unprepared to seize the moment. Section 41 has come too late in the day to be an effective rallying point.

Of course, for the BDP’s arrogant enthusiasts victory will always be victory.

Nothing more, nothing less.
But this time around it will be a sour kind of victory, a victory by default, a beginning of the end, if you want.
Such a sour victory comes on the backdrop of an increasingly shrill national debate about the future of the country.

Interestingly and belatedly, some party activists are beginning to mutter anxious apprehensions about a law that gives so much power to just one individual.

They used to believe these excessive powers were perfectly acceptable.
The Motswaledi case, or should we say defeat brings to an end decades of denial by BDP members that the laws could actually be applied against them by one of their own.
A revolution, we learn, tends to feed on its own children.

In a surprise twist, President Khama has waded into the debate reminding his critics through a German News Agency that he did not come up with the laws.
He inherited them.

I agree with him.
The only difference is that he is actually the first President to ever put such powers into practice.
To his credit, the President says he is open to a debate.

This is a reluctant admission on his part that reality on the ground has changed drastically since many of those laws were drafted.

In the meantime, to get his ambitions implemented the President may very well start by dissolving what has always stood as the biggest stumbling block to his roadmap ÔÇô the BDP.
When that happens few tears will be shed.

The BDP Members have brought it on themselves.
They have no one to blame but themselves.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.