Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Realignment of forces of change

As drama unfolds inside the BDP, questions as to the cause of the split and its possible consequences keep gnawing and nagging, begging for answers.

Accusations and counter accusations fly thick and fast with those remaining behind being labelled the Khama Fan Club (KFC’s) and those bolting out of the stable being branded charlatans, power hungry and self seekers. It is intended here to attempt to establish the underlying cause of the split and its aftermath.

It is argued here that at the core of the split is democracy or lack of it, presidency more than the president and that democracy shall come out of this furnace refined and vibrant.

That this country has not fully embraced democracy is not in doubt, ours has semblances of feudalism more than a republic, it espouses elitist democracy, democracy for the rulers and their encircling labyrinth. It is sugar coated autocracy.

The president of Botswana who is not a product of a rigorous election process has executive powers and has been catapulted to that position through a dubious animal called automatic succession; the result is an illegitimate president who then chooses an illegitimate vice president.

Councillors and members of parliament are elected by the voters; it does not follow that more councillors in a constituency translate into an MP of a party in the majority, however the more MPs of a particular party confers the presidency on their party leader.

This system is grossly flawed and is at the core of the BDP split. The president owes his selection to the MPs and not the other way round. The attitude of the current president is that MPs owe their being to him. The power he wields as an appointing authority of everybody who matters make those elected lesser mortals and find themselves compromised to express their wishes in crucial decisions of running the country, he is simply omnipotent.

BDP has a stranglehold on democracy of this country. The rules of engagement which would allow for fair election are such that they perpetuate the status quo, this is not helped by the incumbency factor which it abuses with wanton recklessness.

Recently Lesang Magang yearned the day the opposition engaged the ruling party on issue based politics; somewhat cynical?

BDP is guilty of stifling debate because time is spent on trivialities; we are itching and ready to do battle on issues with BDP, anytime, but the playing field has to be level to pave way for fair elections. The government has to free the air waives of television and radio for instance and create a conducive environment for robust debate.

When Khama became active in politics, there was hope that he would be fair and democratic.
The hope was based purely on the fact that he is the son of the first president and a chief. This is primarily why he was seen as what the doctor (Professor Schlemmer) prescribed as panacea for internecine factions in the BDP.

Some people across political divide were wondering what the opposition would be doing since the messiah would be flawless.

Lo and behold! He is human after all, he has dismally failed to democratise the party and country, he aligned himself with a faction and entrenched himself at the expense of institutions and processes.

The issues that necessitated his unfettered ascendance to power are the very issues that will bring him down, this time with the BDP.

This country is larger than BDP, let alone Khama, those people who had hoped to be agents of change inside BDP have finally realised that an enemy within is like an enemy without, that the BDP is irredeemably undemocratic, hence the formation of BMD.

Forming a party helps coalesce the siblings before joining the relatives(other opposition parties), particularly looking at the numbers involved, the issues of joining the existing parties should least concern the deserted simply because its non of their business.

Every split counts, count every split. BNF was on the roll, almost set to win 1999 general election when it was hit by a split of unprecedented proportions.

It was at the height of the conflict that it emerged constitution was chairman Mao styled, it centralised power on the president. When the then central committee attempted to suspend the president, he invoked the constitution and dissolved central committee, and it was latter held that he was within his powers to declare state of the emergency and take full charge.

These are the labour pains that preceded the birth of the BCP and marked a turning point in the history of our politics. BCP did not renege on its desire to unseat the BDP, but rather the split prolonged the BDP’s stay in power over what it considered the greater good of the country, the same way BMD argues that our democracy should be saved from Khama and his henchmen.

In 2001, BNF split again, ushering in the NDF, this time around ejecting the founding father, Dr. Koma. NDF was to Koma, what the republican guard was to Saddam or Khama is to KFC. Interestingly the first NDF port of call was BCP and the together with BAM finally became one.

BCP distinguished itself as a serious contender for power; stable, focussed and resilient while BMD is formed by popular demand from the cross section of the populace.

Until 2009, the relationship between BNF and BCP was acidic and highly explosive. Post election the two are almost at par, the issues that separate the two are gradually blurring and they are gravitating towards each other as epitomised by the overtures of their presidential hopefuls and their youth leagues recently.

BMD has set the tone of its cooperation agenda and this has set tongues wagging. The envisaged tripartite alliance has all the hallmarks of change. The question of ideology, policy and programs, much as are critical are by and large secondary to functional democracy which will release the latent value and synergy of the nation to map out its agenda.

Khama is credited for rudely awakening the nation from a deep slumber; the 1998 split in the short term stalled change, in the long term cultivated the seeds for change which have ushered in healthier democracy.

While BNF was losing the requisite energy and BCP was gaining momentum at a slower rate, insufficient to expedite change, BMD having tasted power and with bleeding wounds and bruised egos is what is necessary for the much needed change.

BNF started this change, BCP precipitated it and BMD will catalyze it.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.