“Looking back at 1995, one would never have imagined a public service strike of this magnitude and nature. There were a lot of comfort zones within the civil service then. Political dynamics have changed significantly the world over and people are agitating for their rights unlike in the past. Can you honestly tell me now that regime change is inevitable,” says Botswana Congress Party politician and lawyer, Morgan Moseki, as he shuffles through a pile of files on his desk.
I immediately chip in and remind him of the 1991 industrial class strike which nearly paralysed government before members of the Botswana Defence Force were deployed to clean the heavily littered streets and usurp the duties abandoned by the striking workers. In response Moseki says it ought to be remembered that the strike by the industrial class was launched by people who felt hard done by government and hence downed their tools in demand for better working conditions and pay.?It is flowing from this conversation that Moseki maintains that there are a number of variables that can lead to regime change in Botswana, among them poor working conditions. ┬á
Whenever Batswana discuss politics, a subject that comes up even before enquiries about the health of children these days, talk of possible regime change always crops up. Moseki believes that the BCP, in cooperation with other opposition parties can oust the ruling Botswana Democratic Party from power ÔÇô come the 2014 general election.
“A number of Batswana, especially the educated are now taking active participation in politics. Government is the largest employer and if its own employees are disgruntled, they will mount pressure and voice their misgivings by voting out the ruling party”, says Moseki prophetically. He says people (the working class) are demanding a fair share of the national cake as they continue to wallow in poverty while government priorities continue to be misplaced in an economy that is supposed to improve their livelihoods in the so-called democratic Botswana.?“I have always said the so-called democracy in Botswana has never been tested. Botswana government has been very conservative and did not tolerate any serious scrutiny over the years hence the deportation of expatriate journalists and academics who exposed its weaknesses. The deportees?had not committed any crimes. It is only that they had expressed views that government did not like. It has been a ruthless democracy and most of us did not notice because the wrongs did not affect us directly but rather affected foreigners. Ours is a pseudo-democracy by proper definition,” said Moseki.?He said the change of the political dynamics are exposing the flawed democracy in Botswana asking where in a democracy would you find a ruling party being offered more political space in the public media than is the case in Botswana. “It is not good democratic practice for a head of state to?be offered more prime time from the public broadcaster in political matters at?the expense of the heads of the other opposition parties. Where you would get?this except in Botswana? In my view, the president of any political party duly?nominated as candidate in a general election must be afforded the same amount?of time as the president of the ruling party when he is campaigning for?political office. The only distinction should be on government business. All the?presidents nominated for the general election must be accorded equal coverage like it is?done in South Africa”, said Moseki.?He maintained that if all the political parties were afforded?equal coverage by the public media, then regime change was inevitable decrying that?information about the opposition was currently stifled because of the bias?towards BDP political activities.?Moseki said it is unfortunate that the public is illiterate?and if it is denied proper information, it is bound to vote the wrong party?because it has been fed the wrong information adding that there was need for?the leveling of the political playing field as opposed to the current situation?in which the ruling party is advantaged at the expense of the opposition.?Moseki also said opposition cooperation is a viable project?which needed to be pursued with vigour in order to bring about regime change?explaining that in 2005 just from a memorandum of understanding between the?BCP, BPP, BAM and the BNF, the Gaborone West South by-election was won by?Otsweletse Moupo, an opposition politician.??In addition, for the first time another council ward was won?in Ramotswa (a BDP stronghold) because of the opposition cooperation.
“There is abundant evidence?that if the opposition worked together, they would easily dethrone the BDP from?power in 2014”, said Moseki.?He said the other variable that buttressed the fact that?regime change was inevitable was the formation of the Botswana Movement for?Democracy (BMD) which has eaten into the core of the BDP stronghold in terms of?youth activism.?“The breakup of the BDP with the formation of the BMD was a?good political move to show to the world that the BDP had overstayed in power.?The party lacked dynamism except to stifle inner party democracy. It is like a?party in coalition with itself. It cannot afford to hold its own elections.?The BDP is very tired and must just go. What is uniting the BDP currently is the?power because it is the ruling party. The party is just there for that and?nothing else,” said the opposition politician.?On the issue of corruption, Moseki said the most worrying?thing is that for the first time senior members in government are alleged to be?involved in corrupt activities.??He said there was a worldwide phenomenon that called for the empowerment and┬á adequate resourcing of?institutions like the DCEC which were formed to primarily deal with the issue of corruption and economic crime which had the potential to reverse the economic gains that the countries had made in the past.?Moseki decried that currently the DCEC reported to the Office of?the President instead of parliament. “DCEC should report directly to?parliament. The most worrying aspect is that there are cases that are reported?to the president first before the culprits are arraigned before the courts of?law. It is not good for the society for DCEC and the Directorate of Public?Prosecutions to inform the president that they are in the process of charging?senior civil servants and ministers. These offenders should just be charged?like any other ordinary offender without informing the president. This puts the?judiciary in an invidious position and?should not be allowed”, said Moseki.?Moseki said once the DCEC has completed its investigations?and the DPP is satisfied that there is a good case for prosecution, the case should be prosecuted without the courtesy of informing the president but there such a requirement does not legally exist.??With regard to freedom of expression, Moseki said it is?heartening that Batswana are still free to speak without fear of victimization.?“I hope that we remain so but recent events point that if the society does not?stand up and defend this position, we may live to regret it because we have a president?who loathes freedom of expression. Unless we do something to protect this?freedom, we will live to regret it as we slide into conditions similar to those prevailing?in countries like Malawi and Uganda”, he said.?The politician said it was a pity that the media is?operating in a small society and this has tended constrain its?activities adding that it cannot be disputed that the financial base of the?media like most private sector enterprises relied heavily on government and its?subsidiaries.?“Generally I am happy with the performance of the media?notwithstanding the constraints it is faced with. I also participate freely as?I make regular contributions in the papers,” said Moseki.?The other issue that Moseki observed is that nowadays it?would be political naive if one failed speak on the prevailing situation in the?Arab world because the events in those countries must show every leader that?there is nothing as sweet as the freedom to speak and to choose a government of?”your own choice”.?Although Moseki ┬áis?optimistic that regime change is inevitable in Botswana, he is concerned that?Batswana are a very conservative people who are not easy to change and are?contended with voting for old political parties as opposed to new movements.?“
Once they tell themselves that a certain political party?cannot make it, unless that party strategises properly,┬á it is doomed. They can easily influence each?other because the population is very small. A message can be easily passed from?one corner of the country to the other within minutes”, said Moseki.?He said the consoling fact is that Batswana can reward a?party that is seen to be working hard in terms of tackling the issues that?confront them.?On his political resilience he said when he started, it was?not easy because the departure of Joy Phumaphi in July 2003 threw him into?active political activity prematurely as at the time he was still studying for?his masters degree in Cape Town.?“I was put in a dilemma. There was nobody to represent the?party and I had to combine my studies with the political campaign. I had to?complete my studies which I could not abandon. I was the only available candidate?and the BCP was only five years old by then. I heavily lost in the ensuing?by-election in 2004 although that did not discourage me from work harder ever since”,?said Moseki.?He observed that in the 2009 general election, it was?evident that Batswana had begun to appreciate Botswana Congress Party as a?political force to reckon with although he marginally lost to foreign affairs?minister Phandu Skelemani.?“We have worked very hard to convince them that the BCP is?a viable project. The society has now accepted us as a major player in the?political front as attested by the number of votes we polled at the last?general election. We are confident that with opposition cooperation, we will?oust the BDP come 2014”, said Moseki ┬áin?conclusion.