Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Strengthening democracy through ‘COMPROMISE’

In 2008, as a political party activist then, I penned an article calling on the BDP to freeze central committee elections. To digress a bit and to make a confession, I was also a member of a particular faction which is no more. We had good and bad times, joyous, jolly and jubilant times much as we had tumultuous and rowdy times. In one of our errands, we attended the Youth Congress to motivate our Youth League candidates somewhere in the Tswapong Region. On that fateful night, we accompanied “Bagolo” (the Faction Elders) to the School where the party was congregating. We sneaked in a classroom under cover of darkness and “Bagolo” went about with the business of motivating the young Turks in our faction. All of a sudden there was a “sudden burst of light which dramatically expelled the darkness” (Reminds me of the Book Rebel, by Bediako Asare). Some mischievous youth from the other faction had caught wind of the meeting, and one of them found his way in and switched on the lights. There the “General” and his “Lieutenant” were exposed, caught red handed to say the least, as they were martialing the troops. Having accomplished the mission, the “naughty” young Turks were seen excitedly running from the scene shouting “re tshwere bagolo, re tshwere bagolo!!!!” as some bolted from the classroom. Those were the days!! Back to my 2008 article “Freeze Central Committee Elections”. Then, the BDP Central Committee elections were to be held in 2009 around July and the General Elections were to be held in October same year 2009. As an activist I was alive to the fact that Central Committee elections were divisive and destructive to the BDP. I argued that the BDP must not go for Central Committee elections so as to devote time and resources to the General Elections campaign. I also argued that the BDP emerges divided after every “bulela ditswe”, supporting my argument by making reference to Arrows Impossibility theorem which holds that there are times in which majority voting may fail to yield a stable outcome. In short I presented an argument in favour of “Compromise”. However, this did not go down well with some in the BDP and some in the Media. Spencer Mogapi of the Sunday Standard responded by submitting as follows: “It hurts that Dr. Dingalo elects to use his sizeable intellect to spearhead what is essentially a brash onslaught against inner party democracy”. The BDP Central Committee Elections went ahead in Kanye in a spectacle little less than a mad house. In the end, then “Barata Party” faction emerged victorious. The BDP went on to win the 2009 General Elections, and thereafter the effects of the contest for Central Committee elections that I called on to be frozen, came to the fore. After the Central Committee elections, there was a creation of two centers of power.  During the tussle for control of the Party, then BDP Secretary General the late Sir G, as Gomolemo Motswaledi was affectionately known, (MHSRIP) and some in the Central Committee were suspended. This resulted in internal legal battles, BDP against BDP, leading finally to the formation of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) as a splinter from the BDP. The BMD went on to form an Alliance with amongst others the BNF going by the name United Democratic Change (UDC). The UDC Formation surprised many in the 2014 General Elections by capturing both the BDP and BCP strongholds including Dumelang Saleshando’s Gaborone Central and Daniel Kwelagobe’s Molepolole South Constituencies amongst others, bagging 17 constituencies in the process. Who knows, maybe had the party heeded the call to freeze Central Committee elections there will be no BMD, Hon Kgoroba, Hon Ndaba Gaolathe and others in the BMD would probably be BDP MPs. We will never know. What we know for a fact is that the UDC is working around the clock to consolidate its position by bringing other opposition parties into the fold, the BCP in particular. Through compromise and without having gone for their Elective Congress, the UDC has endorsed Hon Duma Boko as the President, and Hon Ndaba Gaolathe and Dumelang Saleshando as the two Vice Presidents. Furthermore, the UDC has handpicked a compromise candidate for the envisaged Tlokweng Constituency by-elections in Kenneth Masego Segokgo without going for Primary Elections. The UDC is aware that there are times in which majority voting may fail to yield a stable outcome. They understand that failure to compromise will make their task even more difficult, and hence have now dedicated their time to selling their candidate without being destructed by preparations for Primary Elections. Could this be a “brash onslaught against inner party democracy”, well this is subject to debate and interpretation. The BDP is now at crossroads, as the party is heading for the 2017 Congress. Thereafter in 2019 there will be yet another Elective Congress which will coincide with the election year.  To further compound matters, the party will be having a Leadership transition whereas the Vice President will become the President of the Republic of Botswana come 1st April 2018. As if that is not enough the party will have a Special Congress in the Election Year to elect the Leader who will become the Presidential candidate in the 2019 General Elections. Between now and 2019 it is a packed agenda!! These major activities can make or break the BDP if not handled with utmost care and sensitivity with which they deserve. I wish to submit and caution as I did in my 2008 intervention, that in all the episodes I refer to above, majority voting may fail to yield a stable outcome. I will not be surprised if UDC does not go for an Elective Congress to elect the Leadership before the 2019 General Elections as they would be aware that majority voting may fail to yield a stable outcome. There is therefore need for the BDP to adopt ‘deliberative’ democracy, which is “the shift from purely voting based decision making to decision making based on the informational, argumentative, reflective and social aspects of deliberation” (John S. Dryzek and Christian List, 2003). This means that the Leadership must engage in open, honest and reflective conversations and should be prepared to “COMPROMISE” in the best interest of the Country. The Telegraph Newspaper Reporter (February 8, 2017) submits that “Divided political Parties fall like the Houses of Cards”. There is need for “Houses of Concrete”, so that in the run up to the 2019 General Elections, the national dialogue and discourse focuses on issues of National Development and not personal diatribes. This country needs stronger Political Parties.

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