I’m dead with laughter. I just can’t help it. Seriously I should be crying instead of laughing. I mean, it should get us worried when grown men who are supposed to represent us in parliament act as embarrassingly dumb as did the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) members of parliament (MP’s) last week Thursday. I mean really, that was so low of them. What were they thinking? Could there be a new version titled ‘The art of losing war’?
So we hear the BNF and BCP MP’s hastily gathered on Thursday evening for a meeting that had only one item on the agenda: To embarrassingly remove Honourable Botsalo Ntuane as Leader of Opposition in Parliament. It was hectic, I bet. The BNF army was led by the party vice president and the envisaged heir to the throne, Isaac Mabiletsa while the BCP had its president Dumelang Saleshando as commander of the ground forces. We are also told that in attendance were two members of the BNF central committee, Maemo Bantsi (yeah, that gentleman who was thrashed by Ntuane in the last general elections) and Harry Mothei. The two gentlemen’s presence was meant to, and it succeeded in fooling MP’s to think that the meeting had the blessing of the BNF central committee while the truth was, the most important person in the central committee, being the party president Duma Boko, was not even aware of the meeting, let alone the plot to oust Ntuane. The BCP was roped in, if at all they are not the ones who initiated the meeting, to provide numerical support to the BNF who are at par with the BMD in parliament. The BNF and BCP MP’s resolved, at that meeting, to write a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly instructing her to announce, the next day, the removal of Ntuane and the ascendance of Mabiletsa to the position of leader of opposition in parliament.
Now let’s crack our ribs at the comedy of errors from the said meeting. It is quite clear the attendants were all too happy to remove Ntuane and forgot to observe all the protocol and legal undertakings necessary for such removal. Mabiletsa could have been too excited at the prospects of being chauffer driven in a black German sedan that he completely forgot the standing orders which give guidance to all parliamentary arrangements including the removal of leader of opposition. Saleshando on the other hand must have excitedly thought, “if I spend so much money on fuel to drive around in my personal Range Rover, why should Ntuane pack his personal Range Rover at home(yes they drive identical SUV’s) and be chauffeur-driven in a government car”. The excitement overwhelmingly blinded the plotters. The BCP has never made it a secret that they get nausea from Ntuane’s occupancy of the leader of opposition office. They have always been frustrated that while they don’t like Ntuane to lead the opposition, there was nothing they could do about the situation since they are a minority party in parliament. It must be out of this frustration that when the BNF allegedly asked for their support in the quest to topple Ntuane, the BCP blindly rushed to the call (ba rwele ditsebe) without scrutinizing the possible barriers ahead.
Immediately after their meeting and being the first to append his signature on Ntuane’s ‘death warrant’, Saleshando told the Mmegi newspaper (03/02/12) that “The MP’s made the decision to replace the existing Leader of Opposition in Parliament”. I’m still shocked as to how Saleshando can be so dumb to believe they had, especially his minority party, the powers to remove the seating leader of opposition when they had no powers to install him. After the embarrassment of the failed coup, Saleshando goes on Facebook the next day to tell his friends that his party did not initiate the coup but were only honoring a request from the BNF. To me that does not make any difference but instead buttresses the dumbness that prevailed the previous day when the plot was orchestrated. I have always looked at Saleshando as a smart chap and as such I would have expected him to be the first to know that the coup d’├®tat would not work out without the input of the BMD MP’s.
Luckily for Ntuane and his party, the speaker of the national assembly is not as dumb as the plotters. She agreed with the BMD that the BCP had no business in deciding who occupies the leader of opposition seat. The BCP are a minority and as such their business is to shut up and accept what the majority chooses for them. The Monitor newspaper (06/02/12) quotes Saleshando as having jeered at this notion of them being a minority, “Do they mean that when Ntuane makes a statement claiming to represent the opposition collective he is only representing parties which have six legislators in parliament and not us who have five?” Come on Dums, that’s a silly assertion and you should know that already. Painful as it might sound or appear, the truth is, indeed when Ntuane makes a statement in his position as leader of opposition, he represents all opposition parties including the one with minority representation which in this case is the BCP. That is what democracy dictates. When President Khama makes a statement in his capacity as leader of the nation, such statements represent all Batswana including some like Saleshando who did not vote for him or do not agree with him. As head of the family, Saleshando makes decisions on behalf of his sons even when his views do not represent their wishes. In the same breath, Ntuane makes decisions and releases statements on behalf of those under him, including the minority BCP even when his statements do not reflect the wishes of the BCP and even as the BCP have no role to play in his appointment and or dethronement. That is democracy. I did not invent it. Neither did Ntuane. We only embrace it.
You know, It surprises me that while BCP MP’s appear to rally behind their president, their BNF counterparts on the other hand rebel against theirs. Saleshando believes Ntuane must be removed from his position and it appears he has the support of his MP’s. It therefore surprises me that BNF MP’s do not seem prepared to support their leader, Duma Boko who has no qualms with Ntuane. More shocking about this plot against Ntuane is that, just recently the BNF made a very good proposal which sought to have the position of leader of opposition being held on rotational basis between the BNF and the BMD. To me, that was the best way to go about it. I don’t understand what the agitation is all about on the part of Mabiletsa so much that he can allow the BCP to use his team to settle their scores with the BMD.I hope Mabiletsa has learnt a lesson from the embarrassment he suffered on Friday. His family must have spent the whole of Thursday night frantically packing and stripping off the rails of their parliamentary flat curtains in anticipation of moving to the lavish home afforded the leader of opposition, only for daddy to phone from parliament the next day “sorry honey, I waywardly jumped the gun(ke phaphile), we aint going nowhere”.