In the next 32 months, Batswana will go to the polls to elect their political representatives at the local and national level. Due to the changes that have taken place in the political landscape during the last three years, I have no doubt in my mind that most people are waiting for the 2014 general elections with bated breath. Our hope as ordinary citizens of this country is that come 2014, all political parties will give us credible men and women to choose from. We yearn for people who can make Botswana a real shining example of democracy in the developing world.
Opposition parties are already preparing themselves for the battle. So far, the BNF, the BMD and the BPP are working towards the revival of an umbrella project that collapsed in December 2011.
Leaders of the BCP are still “consulting” members of the party on the best way forward and are expected to make a decision as to whether they join other opposition parties or not. In view of the recent public statements made by leaders of the BCP, it is becoming increasingly clear that the party will not join the umbrella, a development that may be too costly for them in 2014.
There are people who are highly optimistic that the umbrella project can be successful while others argue to the contrary. I believe that if things are discussed by sober minds, if personal interests are not allowed to outweigh national interests and if there is mutual respect and understanding, then the umbrella project can work. Batswana are waiting for a change of government hence it is of paramount importance that all opposition parties must join hands, pool resources together and move in the same direction at the same pace with the sole intention of dethroning the BDP.
But we have to bear in mind that the BDP is fully aware of the danger that a combined opposition bloc poses for them. It is also preparing for the 2014 elections. Some of its members are so bullish and bold that they tell all those who care to listen that their party will rule this country until the second coming of Jesus Christ. They even go further to tell us that there is still no alternative to the BDP.
The BDP’s number one enemy is the BMD. All level-headed members of the BDP, whose assessment of political issues is not clouded by arrogance, admit that the formation of the BMD has in a way weakened their party. Their main worry is that in 2009, the popular vote for the BDP stood at 53%. So, the defection of Councilors and MPs together with their supporters basically means that the BDP has lost a certain percentage of people to the opposition bloc. I may not have the exact numbers of people who left the BDP or those who have joined the opposition parties in the past three years, but it is not in dispute that the number of people who resigned from the BDP to join opposition parties, particularly the BMD, is greater than the number of people that the BDP managed to attract to its fold after the last elections.
Members of the BDP are fully aware that the founders of the BMD know how things are done in the BDP. They know the strengths and weaknesses of the BDP. It is therefore, not surprising that the BDP is doing everything in its power to weaken the BMD by recruiting its members as well as depicting opposition parties as disorganized and unstable entities that cannot be trusted. For example, we have been told a million times that Botsalo Ntuane and others are going back to the BDP because they are disillusioned with opposition politics or have been promised cabinet positions. But so far, nothing has happened, save for the resignation of Armstrong Dikgafela, Ruth Kedikilwe and Roseline Pansiri.
This kind of propaganda must be expected to continue until 2014 as it seeks to cause confusion not only among members of the BMD but also among the supporters of various opposition parties. It is meant to fuel mistrust and despondency among opposition parties. Members of different political parties will be promised heaven and earth for them to join the BDP. We have heard stories of people being flown from Francistown to Gaborone to discuss lucrative deals with the rich and powerful leaders of the BDP. Apparently, people are promised large sums of money, franchise of one of the popular chain stores around the country, leadership positions and other goodies.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone because most of our people, especially members of the opposition parties, are hungry. They are starving and the majority of them are suffocated by debts. These poor men and women are desperate to get themselves out of this terrible situation and the BDP is fully exploiting the situation. It is buying their souls. What we are going to experience and witness between now and 2014 is the politics of poverty coupled with lies, deceit and betrayal. Only those who have a conscience and a few principled members will not accept the offers presented to them.
My simple message to all those who have been promised nice things is that they must tread with caution. It is an open secret that there are people in the BDP who are still waiting for the things that they were promised more than a year ago. These are people who were lured back to the party and are now viewed as traitors for having left the party following the formation of the BMD. These poor people have now been pushed to the periphery. They are frustrated and powerless. It remains to be seen if they will be allowed to even stand for elections in 2014. I believe that they are regretting the day they decided to rejoin the BDP.
Their integrity as politicians is at stake. On one hand, they realize that going back to the BMD is not an easy task as people will simply dismiss them as confused political clowns, but the BDP, on the other hand, is not fulfilling its promise. Time is running out for them. They face a bleak political future because they made decisions with their stomachs and not their heads. This is a trap that the “potential recruits” must avoid as the BDP intensifies its recruitment drive and continues directing its missiles at the BMD and other opposition parties.
My Last Article
I have been given some leadership responsibilities at my workplace and for purposes of avoiding potential or actual conflict of interest, I have decided not to continue with this column. This is my last article and I would like to thank the Editor of this newspaper, Spencer Mogapi, for affording me an opportunity to present my views on topical political issues. I know very well that I have offended some people with the things that I wrote while others agreed with me on a number of issues. That is the nature of the game. I can’t change it. Thank you all and God bless.
Dr Mothusi teaches Public Administration at the University of Botswana