Thursday, June 13, 2024

Too early to claim victory against BDP, too late to know it

Margret Nasha fell because she did not understand that no matter how smart you are, you should not try and outsmart the master.┬á Madam speaker’s loss was for me a painful reminder of how cruel politics can be if you do not understand the balances of power as well as the conditions for victory.

I believe that the majority of the population wanted her to win, and she must have known that, and she must have thought that that would be enough, so she cast the dice, and as the saying goes she paid the ultimate price. BDP delivered her a coup de tête.

I do not feel sorry that she lost, but I deeply feel sorry for BDP because they cannot see that they are losing the war. Any student of history will tell you that the one thing that many powerful parties and regimes all had in common prior to falling, was that they had become too accustomed to victory, they had fallen victim to the ‘too big to fail’ notion. Most people cannot see beyond their immediate victories, they cannot see the implications of one incident in its entirety and they cannot see a victory bringing them closer to their demise.┬á With Nasha’s loss what we have basically said to the country is that; all power does not belong to the majority, it belongs to a few. But Nasha’s loss is but one of the many mistakes we have made. In this article I will point out a few of the so called strides that in my opinion were in fact mistakes and will have perilous effects in the long run.

Even in a party, people are different and follow different leaders who they believe carry their aspirations. Some people are radical in nature and are more prone to follow the radical leaders within the party. Some leaders are conservative, some are left leaning, some are right leaning, and each, will draw their own sizable following. It is precisely this system that draws and retains followers.┬á People, even when aggrieved stay in a party because they have a voice that adequately represents them. Even if that particular leader loses at a congress, followers remain faithful because they believe that they will get the leader into power in the next congress. Even if they are unsatisfied with the current leadership they remain because they believe or hope that one day the leader with whom they are aligned, through the democratic process, will one day wield power and push forth their agendas. Divergent views do not split a party, but rather increase the party’s following.

Granted in most cases divergent views give the impression of disunity in the period leading up to elections, but someone who sees further knows that elections by nature trigger convergent thinking. Come elections, for the sake of ensuring victory, people tend to temporarily put their differences aside and agree on most matters. Around election time, unity and cooperation are observed. And one reason for this is that the prospect of governing the country as a party, for the leaders, supersedes all others. In those hours the greater enemy is the opposition. In a nut shell, allowing free expression, divergent views, and encouraging robust debates that may sometimes rub you the wrong way is the imperceptible glue that holds a party together. Yes discipline, as a pillar of unity, must be upheld, but discipline is not a disciplinary action, it is not a tool for settling political scores and should not be used to silence people. Individuals who give constructive criticism must not be labelled as ill disciplined and unpatriotic.

Trying to eradicate factions is a mammoth task and is elusive. Putting a lid on simmering tensions only exacerbates or creates new problems. When you wage war on┬á warring factions, it may end one polarisation and create another, i.e. it forces the old factions into one corner and you into the opposing corner, in the case of BDP ÔÇô the Khama bloc ÔÇôthe Khama and his inner circle faction versus the ‘rest’ of BDP. In as much as you cannot destroy energy, you cannot outright destroy factions. What the leadership at BDP ought to do is control them, and keep them at tolerable levels such that they do not result in the party descending into anarchy, dissonance and unruliness
For the record I am not advocating for factions, but one cannot deny that allowing differing groups can actually strengthen a leader’s position in the party, but that requires masterful methods. One famous leader used infighting to strengthen his position in his party; he cleverly allowed infighting between his most trusted lieutenants. By keeping them preoccupied with stabbing each, neither one of them ever had the time and opportunity to point their daggers at him.┬á Mr President, beware, beware the people around you pretend to subscribe to your principles knowing that you will punish those who do not. They want you to pave the way for them to sit on highest seat.

I have said this before, and I will say it again, Khama’s most formidable opponents are not the ones who left the party. No, those were armatures and were not true calculating students of power, the art of war says if your enemy is strong, evade him. You do not try and outsmart him to his face.

Khama’s real enemies are in BDP, concealing their intentions, hiding, forcing him to calculate in the dark, biding their time, waiting for him to provide them with the opportunity to defeat him ÔÇô the opportunity to strike him down once and for all. Right now they are playing dead and defeated, pretending to be weak so that he may grow arrogant, they will attempt to increase his feeling of invincibility with their praises and humility, agreeing with him even when you are wrong and ultimately giving him a long rope to hang himself. They run to him to expel those who differ with him. They are the ones perpetually assuring him of their unflagging allegiance, isolating him from good party cadres, and whispering poison in his ear about the honest and principled men and women who want to save him from drowning himself. Mr President, Duma Boko and his cohorts will never win the war against BDP, not for as long as we are still alive, but, Mr President, UDC will win the battles against you that in the long run will allow your enemies within BDP to win the war against you. Even now, they are conniving with and using the opposition with the aim to eliminate you and anyone who stand in their way. In the coming three years, expect more of your benefactors and allies to turn into enemies and expect wolves dressed in sheep skin to reveal themselves.

I have heard principled individuals like Unity Dow saying good things about Khama, even when out of earshot. Whilst there may be merit to Dow’s beliefs, the truth of the matter is that Khama does very little to help people see things from his perspective, and that makes it easier for the populace to fall prey to the media and the opposition, and then he cries foul. I am of the opinion that Khama is the type of person who ignores problems, especially if he believes that they are unjustified or believes that they do not deserve his attention, and hopes that they will go away on their own.

But the problem with that is, if you leave the people to make guesses, they will come to their own conclusions. A lot of people in BDP and outside of the BDP are of the perception that since Khama assumed power; BDP has become closed to broad participation and popular control–that in Botswana civil liberties and the rule of law are diminishing. The general consensus is that under Khama’s ‘iron rule’ Batswana saw the packing of all positions of influence in public institutions with loyalists and soldiers; that by your design, an entire country was plunged into a state of fear and paranoia. One knows that a country has gone to the dogs when even maids and herd boys at the cattle post are afraid to speak freely over the phone for fear of persecution. People who distrust the BDP believe that Khama has tamed parliament so thoroughly that it can no longer be used to generate useful feedback about the needs and fears of the citizenry. They believe that Khama has turned the country that they love into the Republic of Khama, where only the friends of the president are allowed in ÔÇôand the likes of Rick Yune are told “vat julle goed en voetsek”. One such person once said: ‘led by his own insecurities he has purged the government of competent officers; that God help them if they contradict him; that he has rejected expert advice, choosing instead (at the detriment of the republic) to rely only on his gut instinct,┬áa hodgepodge of knowledge gathered through self-education, or outright guesses, all the while convinced of his own genius.’ People actually believe that since Khama came into power they have witnessed the systematic theft of the state, from top to bottom, the siphoning of millions by your minions. And that now, Mr President your cronies are rich beyond comprehension. They say that you wanted to become the smartest person in government, and the only way you could do that was by dumbing down their public sector.

In truth Khama and some BDP members are like the┬ádinosaurs of old: all big, all imposing and fierce, but will be the first to be wiped out. In the old world, where once upon a time democracy was a foreign phenomenon,and monarchs thrived, Khama’s choleric, alpha persona would have been his greatest asset, and would have ensured his unchallenged rule, but in this new and ever-changing world it has severe inherent weaknesses which in the long run will render him incapable of adapting to the fast changing environment. For example, his inability to yield makes it easy to lead into fight that he cannot win. Today’s changing climate is the┬á artefact of educated men, the relic of the revolutionized mind and not of the autocrats.The age of enlightenment has given birth to a powerful and irresistible system that has decentralized power and has delegated it to the populace.

Dictators and autocrats are all becoming extinct. Yes there are remnants, dictators like your Mugabes, Jos├® Eduardo dos Santos, who have thus far resisted the forces of democracy by posturing as either some sort of benevolent dictator, or by observing the appearance of democratic norms even while subverting them. But even they will fall into the abyss. Today’s leaders have limited power, and are directed more by social utility than by an individual’s caprice. Attaining and retaining that power is an art and is no longer a bestowed birth right. Gaining power requires skilful methods of persuasion rather than crude forcefulness.


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