Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The problem with Botsalo Ntuane…

For me, watching the political drama unfolding in Botswana is a case of d├®j├á vu all over again.
I have seen it all before, including the meaningless, hyped-up defections when unknowns are given their five minutes of fame on television, instantly turning the defector into a smiling cabbage.

I have seen opposition parties, like drunken sailors, violently arguing and sharing the carcass of the buffalo before the hunt even starts.

I once walked into a room full of people who were chatting away happily and called out, “Mr President”. Everyone in the room turned around, including the women who forgot the word “Mr” for a few convenient moments.

Everyone wants to be president.

Opposition parties are supposed to be ideologically different from each other, to give meaning to be in opposition, but they believe they can “unite” to remove a ruling party from office.
Suppose it happens, then what?

It is easier to take power than to rule a country.

We, in Zimbabwe, are testimony to that: executing a war of liberation and winning your country back is totally different from governing it because that requires a different skill.

Fighting to win a country requires no rules, governing requires order and other factors totally alien to fighting for power.

Robert Mugabe and his rival Joshua Nkomo fought the war of liberation together in a loose ‘patriotic front’ alliance.

After independence, it didn’t take even a year before the world’s television screens were plastered with images of train coaches full of dead bodies as Mugabe went after Nkomo’s supporters in the notorious Intumbane Uprising.

Is it really possible for these opposition parties to unite, usher in a new government and continue working together?

Of course not and the reason is simple: everyone wants to be president. Alliances are made in the hope of coming out on top; no one fights for second spot; we all want to be number one.

In an alliance, everyone feels if they could just use the other for a while, they will get it all in the end.

That is why there is suspicion of the other all the time.

I am saddened by the politics in Botswana, a strange thing for a Zimbabwean to say.
But it is true.

The reason is simple, many people expected better from all parties concerned than what we are seeing.

Botswana politics is rapidly becoming very African and we don’t want that, do we?
But the chief participants in the politics of Botswana still offer a big difference from other African countries.

I am upbeat and encouraged by the fact that Botswana politics is dominated by the younger generation, from its President to leaders of the opposition.

Our president in Zimbabwe has been in his eighties for more than ten years. Next week, after 33 years in power, he says he is turning 88 and is a candidate to run again in the forthcoming elections.

Duma Boko, Ian Khama, Botsalo Ntuane, Gomolemo Motswaledi and Dumelang Saleshando are young men with different dreams and agendas for the same country; their country.

In his fifties, the President Khama is older than the rest, is already in office and is limited to two terms.

I see this group of purposeful youngsters throwing pebbles at each other and at their President all the time.

And here Botswana, again, singles itself from the rest of Africa by the sheer absence of physical violence from within its political arena.

What binds these determined young politicians is not politics, per se’; it is Botswana; and love for their country as each sees Botswana on a better level if only their path is adopted and followed.

That wish must be applauded; that must be encouraged. That, definitely, must be the guiding light for all who love Botswana.

Because there should be no fear since the people are the final arbiters after listening to points and counterpoints from all the contenders.

I am both encouraged and saddened by the experiences of Botsalo Ntuane who continues to survive one political inferno after another.

I believe the man must be wondering what he ought to do to get so much as a thank you.
I do wonder if there is any bitterness and how he feels about it all.

From the early years at University, he served his party with distinction. After school, he continued to give it all his best and was rewarded with a seat in Parliament in recognition of all the work he had done for the Botswana Democratic Party.

There was bound to be trouble because African politics is suspicious of followers who have a constituency.

Armed with a lifetime of indoctrination in the virtues of democracy and the BDP philosophy, Ntuane must have felt wonderful at the opportunity to acquire a parliamentary platform from which he could further espouse all the things the BDP taught him.

But the problem is that he developed a constituency, a following, and that is a no-no in African politics.

One by one, the things he was taught to believe in were taken away by the same people who had taught him, by the same party that had nurtured him.

He suddenly found himself viewed as hostile by his mentors because he stood by that which they had taught him; and they taught him well.

I can imagine the amount of courage it took him to walk away from a party that tended him; a party that taught him how to be a selfless servant of the people.

Not surprisingly, he not only turned up in parliament but became Leader Of the Opposition thus thumbing his nose at those he served before and those who had let him go rather than accommodate him as a son they groomed.

Leader of the Opposition entails working with other opposition parties whose ideologies one might not even care for.

Ntuane walked a tight rope and appeared to be doing fine but greed, total lack of tact and misplaced priorities saw a group of opposition Members of Parliament ganging up on him, trying to oust him.

They failed but that treacherous act gave the “enemy” enough impetus and, of course, the BDP moved in to finish off what the opposition MPs had started.

The BDP is having a good time. The opposition, among themselves, are doing all the dirty work for the BDP and unless the opposition, either individually or collectively, clarify and articulate their positions, give substance to their distinct alternatives, we are going to be watching a free political circus for a long time.

Forget the solidarity nonsense with Julius Malema and get to work.

The aim should not necessarily be removing the BDP from power but making sure that the BDP governs properly; even outside the corridors of power, the better ideas a party has are forced on the national table for debate and adoption.

The BDP is already implementing many opposition agendas quietly as if they are their own.
A political party need not be in power to engineer the necessary changes.

As for Ntuane, he should not preoccupy himself with wondering why these things are happening.
The only problem with Ntuane is that there is nothing wrong with Ntuane.

These things are happening because he is doing something right.

If he does not evolve and become careless, he might save not only his own party but all the other parties, along with the politics of Botswana.

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