In a very real sense, the Botswana Congress Party is for now breathing with the aid of life support.
Human nature implores us to show them empathy, but more importantly to accord them enough space to grieve in private ÔÇô so to speak.
Following what happened at the polls the party is for now grappling with a mammoth task of rebuilding from scratch.
For them performance at the polls has not only been humiliating but also humbling.
We should remember that for the first time since it was established, the BCP went into the recent past General Election at each other’s throat with its traditional ally ÔÇô the private media.
Not used to such hostilities coming from the corner they had grown to dominate and even manipulate, the BCP was, quite understandably somewhat of their breadth.
Some of the party senior leadership still thinks the media attitude in the build up to the elections amounted to betrayal of a cause by an ally.
They are wrong. But that is a matter for another day.
While the party will no doubt do with some empathy and compassion, it is also important to stress that going forward they too have to be careful.
If they are not careful they risk bringing to an inglorious end fifteen years of hard work.
Internal divisions not just over what caused poor showing at the polls but also on how to rally the troops going forward have now become inevitable.
The BCP is in a precarious dilemma.
Moving too fast to join Umbrella for Democratic Change as called by some can produce a groundswell of dissent which might prematurely precipitate an internal leadership contest within the BCP.
But moving too slowly is also not an option as ordinary members may easily interpret that as reluctance on the part of leadership to join UDC.
That alone may result with the membership seizing the initiative by decamping to UDC as individuals.
That may be somewhat tempting to the UDC, but the resultant chaos that will inevitably come about are not in anybody’s interest.
As they never fail to remind all of us, the BCP was voted by 140 000 people.
That on its own is a big deal.
If not handled well, it could wreak political anarchy in the opposition ranks.
Based on BCP’s current state, it is almost a given that should such anarchy come to bear the ruling Botswana Democratic Party will like an┬á opportunistic predator also be waiting on the wings to get a share of the spoils.
Of course this is the hard reality of politics that has come with growth.
And we have always warned the BCP that it was only a matter of time before like all political parties, they too would have to contend and grapple with it.
Resolving these difficult questions will ultimately demand the long-term vision of a leader who is in it for the long haul.
On Monday morning we listened to the BCP head of publicity on radio as he tried with limited success to tell the nation just what was agreed at the party’s Leadership Forum held in Palapye over the weekend.
We cannot fairly at least blame Taolo Lucas for delivering mixed messages.
He sounded like a good man sent out to deliver to the public what is by all accounts a hard-sell.
And Lucas is a good man.
The BCP cannot forever survive on cosmetic piecemeal decisions.
Time for bold decisions has arrived and they cannot postpone it forever.
Any attempt to sugarcoat the hard choices facing the BCP will lead to a split.
And again, that is not in anybody’s interest.┬á
What the party most needs now is a strong mix of certainty and chutzpah that can only be brought about by a leader that has a fresh mandate post the general elections.
The party needs to resolve once and for all the leadership question.
Evidently wounded by such a poor performance at the polls, the party can ill afford to be lumbered with a limping┬á leader whose long term commitment to politics is at best tenuous and at worst open to sporadic and uncoordinated internal contests.
If he has no intention of staying in it for the long haul, Dumelang Saleshando should graciously resign and allow somebody else to take over. He has afterall been a great gift to the BCP.
But as is human nature, individuals come and go.
But if he wants to give it another shot, he should open ajar the race for party leadership.
Opening himself to challenge is of course a gamble the results of which cannot be predicted.
Whatever the outcome, the leadership question would at least for a foreseeable future be resolved which will on its own instill certainty across the rank and file.