Monday, September 28, 2020

The reshuffle has outflanked both the opposition and BDP factionalists

I had resolved not to go back to the theme of cabinet reshuffle anytime in the near future.
One had imagined the recent reports of ethical impropriety at Debswana and the Ministry of Minerals as uncovered by parliament much more urgent and pressing.

All these are serious matters requiring a lot of detailed analysis and debate especially because they come at a time when ordinary citizens are incensed at official corruption.
How sad that they have to wait as we grapple with the possible implications of the Friday political developments.

There is no avoiding talk of a cabinet reshuffle as announced by President Festus Mogae on Friday.
The reshuffle cries for a debate, especially its implications for a political landscape that has a woefully disoriented political opposition, already crumbling on itself without a dint of where it is heading.

Just by this reshuffle Mogae has outflanked everyone ÔÇô from inside the BDP right through to our sickly opposition.

He has outflanked everyone – from high up where is etched his beloved, somewhat feared and somewhat worshipped Vice President down to the lowliest factional belligerents and their hangers-on who see their political survival intertwined to maintenance and sustenance of factions inside the ruling party.

Just by this small reshuffle Mogae has shown an unprecedented level of poise, ambition, creativity, scope and agility; a strong force of personality he has never exhibited before during his presidency.
Primarily the reshuffle is meant to bring peace into BDP but it will also put paid all charges of bias and favoritism leveled against Mogae in his choice of ministers.

Although there has been speculation of a cabinet reshuffle since early September last year few would have imagined the reshuffle would be as audacious as to bring back into the fold two men who Mogae had spent his entire political career and so much of his political capital bent on humiliating and marginalising; PHK Kedikilwe and D.K Kwelagobe.
The reshuffle has confirmed that if he wants to, Mogae could easily be a man of fortitude, forthrightness and fairness.

By recalling Kedikilwe and Kwelagobe back into cabinet, Mogae has effectively renounced and shed factions and factionalism.

That is commendable especially coming from a person who has played such a key role in fomenting factional strife inside the ruling party.

Our memories are still fresh with how against all tradition and political etiquette the president openly and unrepentantly supported Ian Khama against Kedikilwe for the position of BDP Chairman ÔÇô a miscalculation that not only widened and set new frontiers for infighting but also went a long way in discrediting the President’s chances as an impartial peace broker during troubled times.
This particular reshuffle is the bravest piece of political creativity and maturity we can ask of President Mogae under the circumstances.
Not only has he outflanked the factional belligerents, who have played on his fears, he has also rendered the already dying political opposition irreparably irrelevant.

Lets be fair about it, the inclusion of PHK and Kwelagobe is a crude act of appeasement, but it is the only hope of restoring peace and sanity inside the BDP.

That kind of appeasement has taken away one of the last remaining ammunition that the crumbling opposition had of pointing at BDP as a factions ridden, exclusionist club.

In their current state the political opposition is unelectable. And Mogae’s reshuffle has damaged them to a state of disrepair.
It will be interesting to see how they will regroup to try and appeal again to voters.

For most of this weekend the opposition, like factional insurgents inside the BDP are transfixed with amazement at the ease, determination and swagger with which President Mogae has pulled the rug off their feet.
Whatever little credibility remained of the opposition has now been shattered and rebuilding it will be a long task.

The political landscape that BDP has recreated could ensure the party stays in power for another forty years or so.
The new landscape throws the opposition into further mayhem.
Our political opposition may not immediately realize it given their traditionally exalted sense of worthiness but Mogae’s actions have smashed them to pieces further disorientating them following the collapse of their fateful unity talks.

Government delivery is unlikely to be felt overnight but there is no doubting that Mogae’s reshuffle will have a profound dis-organisational impact on the opposition for many years to come.

Already there are murmurs of discomfort at the reshuffle, not surprisingly from within the BDP.
The charges are that Mogae’s actions do not amount to a reshuffle but rather a recycling.
Such talk lacks substance.

It’s all about self preservation, made by diehard factionalists who have failed to carve themselves political niches beyond factions.

It’s an example of terrible ingratitude given how those making the charges have undeservedly benefited from Mogae over the years by way of remaining in cabinet ÔÇô notwithstanding lackluster performance.

Such charges are informed by natural instincts for survival, marshaled by factional belligerents who know so well that the setting in of peace inside the BDP could easily spell the end of their unanchored careers.

We know very well who are behind such charges; they are the usual factional suspects.
We also know what an alternative to a reshuffle would have meant.

It would have opened fresh floodgates of yet another round of a full-blooded insurgency inside the BDP without which many who are today in cabinet would be rendered irrelevant.

True yes Kedikilwe and Kwelagobe are not newcomers to cabinet. But their exclusion has not only disrupted government business, it has also undermined the credibility of cabinet. Not only does their inclusion change the tapestry of the cabinet it also, perhaps more importantly infuses the long lacking stature and authority of the executive.
With all the factional leaders now in cabinet there should be no charges of exclusion.

What is left is for Mogae to call on the factional leaders who are all senior ministers to douse whatever form of disquiet and discontentment from their followers by way of negotiation and compromise.

It is only then that we could hope for service delivery which those of us who are not party to BDP internal wrangles expect from a ruling party.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.