Wednesday, September 23, 2020

UDC ÔÇô on a wing and a prayer!

A few days after the UDC leak started to do rounds, I forwarded it to a Pretoria based psychiatrist acquaintance with a note; please provide me with a brief and dispassionate psychological diagnosis of the key characters in this conversation.

A disciplined professor, he wrote back within minutes; Spencer it is against the ethics of our profession to diagnose people that we have not personally treated. Doing so is against what our profession calls the “Goldwater Rule”, he said.

But at face value, he continued, there is no doubting that as a collective, the characters “manipulative and suffer from a grandiose obsession with the self,” he averred.

“At least two of them are driven by a deep-seated desire to dominate … a possible result of troubled childhood. That much is shown by clamour for public adoration and affirmation – and is also reflected by toxic anger of some texts,” he continued.

“One of them is image-driven which leads him to a visceral social disagreeableness. They have no patience for people holding a different view. In real life this will manifest itself by a deep and general  inability to form lasting personal relations and unending attempts to blackmail other people. Co-existence among them is as a result impossible.”

He was not done yet.

“Almost all of them show tendencies of narcissism.”

Then he went on and on detailing the symptoms of narcissism.

He ended by advising me to seek a second opinion if I was not happy.

The expert opinion was politically instructive.

The UDC is no longer indispensable.

The aura of impending political victory that permeated the air post-2014 has now been crushed, almost irreparably.

All of it can be blamed not on the ordinary members but on characters of the leaders.

Duma Boko’s grip over UDC has come to an end.

And from the leaked conversation, it’s clear who is now in charge: Sidney Pilane.

Given the extent of profanities he hurled out with wanton abandon, it is clear who among them is most frustrated, the Botswana Congress Party leader, Dumelang Saleshando.

The leaks paint the picture of a house on fire.

The language used is that of children left home alone, with no adults on scene.

This is very sad for the BCP. The party deserves better.

For all its perpetual slyness, the BCP has largely been run on a rules-based regiment.

There has been a culture of rigorous internal debate.

The party has had consultation as a central part of its overall anatomy.

Organizational etiquette has always attracted high premium.

The leader is accountable ÔÇô by and large.

Self-discipline is a familiar phenomenon.

Meetings are called. And the leader arrives to those meetings on time.

Resolutions, when adopted are enforced.

After internal disagreements, once a position is taken, collective accountability binds everybody.

Whatever the shortcomings ÔÇô and there are many – members could claim a voice in the overall direction of their party.

That was until a decision was mooted for the BCP to join the UDC.

At UDC the BCP arrived to find that there were no clear rules.

Initially the BCP feigned normalcy because even their joining of the UDC was not done properly.

But along the way the situation turned untenable.

There are at least two Constitutions; and they are both deployed depending on who wanted to achieve what.

This has proved totally alien to the BCP. And it is manifested by Saleshando’s uncontrollable outbursts in the leaked conversation.

There is clearly no consensus on anything inside the UDC.

In February a Congress determined that elections be held in three months.

That has not happened.

Botswana National Front is by all intents and purposes the cornerstone of the UDC.

Yet inside the BNF itself there is a groundswell of calls on Boko to step down.

The anarchy and mismanagement of the BNF has, not surprisingly been reproduced at the UDC.

Central Committee meetings are seldom held.

And when they are held, it is at the sway of the leader.

The UDC has reached crunch point.

The leaked conversation is certainly the party’s lowest point since it was created.

For the BCP this is certainly a cultural shock.

Since its inception two decades ago, the BCP has steadfastly worked at staying away from anything that amounted to structural acrimony.

The abrasive language used by their leader in the leaked conversation, is exactly the kind of behavior that the BCP has eschewed using in its public image persona.

This is why it is all the more hurtful for the BCP members.

The BCP members find themselves caught up in a foreign territory, holding on to a dysfunctional quagmire where they are required not only to turn their backs on a civil sub-culture that has sustained them for twenty years, but also to make endless sacrifices. It amounts to nothing short of humiliation, hence their palpable anger.

But still the leaked conversation has provided the public and hopefully the UDC with certainty at least on one thing ÔÇô that there is no short-cut to winning state power.

UDC leaders have naively believed that somehow they could cheat their way into Government.

They refused to be open on anything ÔÇô including to their own supporters and sympathizers.

As a result the Botswana Movement for Democracy broke apart.

The Conveners, for long the voice of reason that glued the otherwise dysfunctional machine together walked away in disgust.

Now the wheels are off.

It will take honesty and humility, never abundant qualities among the UDC leaders, to put the wheels back again.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.