Friday, March 24, 2023

Voter suppression: The opposition’s masterstroke of electinering

Since the commencement of registration of voters for the 2014 general election, there have been widespread concerns regarding the poor turnout at registration points. While it is everyone’s democratic right to participate in an election, voting in large numbers is not always helpful especially for opposition parties with a smaller support base. The general proposition that in an election every single vote makes a difference is simplistic and exaggerated by those with the numbers on their side and hence it is a pity that the opposition has walked into this trap and are singing the same garbage. Of course democracy is fashioned on majority votes in spite of the fact that a considerable number of voters are purely irrational with bizarre preferences such as being fascinated by tight pants and promiscuous lives of their idols.

My immediate past discussion argued that so long as opposition politicians engage in clean politics, they shall for sure be damned. In this piece, I intend to give counsel to all those who truly care about the future of this republic to adopt unusual multifaceted though potentially unethical approaches to electioneering. The proposed strange strategies are in recognition that President Khama has virtually transformed Botswana’s politics to the extent that clean campaigns are just crude fantasy.

A general consensus is that all persons who are eligible to vote must register in order to vote. However, not everybody who is eligible will register and not everyone who would register is going to vote. Yet the fallacy is that every single vote makes a difference. Many of the losers in political contests often claim that they lost because their supporters did not vote in large numbers. What this seems to mean is that generally supporters of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) are more likely to vote than those who support opposition politicians.

If this is true, why then would opposition politicians encourage all eligible voters to register and vote when they know that theirs rarely vote in large numbers? Put differently, who benefits most from a high turnout? My contention is that by mobilizing all eligible voters to register and vote, opposition politicians are in actual fact campaigning for and boosting the BDP’s chances because at the end only a few of those who support opposition candidates will cast their votes while BDP supporters will turnout in large numbers. It thus beats common sense to encourage the supporters of your opponents to register and vote in large numbers.

Thus, the opposition must get smart and engage in purposive mobilization of voters. Obviously, purposive voter registration drives may sound impracticable or unrealistic but with shrewdness this is achievable. What is necessary is for the opposition to develop strategies to suppress the registration of those who are likely to support the BDP candidates at the 2014 general election.

This is unethical politicking but it is not unlawful. What it means is that the opposition must work to politely discourage BDP members and sympathisers from registering for the coming election. This requires that as the BDP politicians move about urging eligible voters to register in large numbers, the opposition must clandestinely counter that in order to suppress turnout especially among the rural voters most of who are BDP supporters. This implies the need to develop underhand tactics that seek to disenfranchise many eligible rural voters. This is ugly and infuriating but it is necessary to subdue or neutralize the power of small minded voters.

It is a fact that the BDP is very solid in the rural areas implying that a majority of poor people support it. Now if their right to vote is taken away through whatever means, BDP’s landslide victories would be derailed. This is what it is called voter suppression and it comes in different makes. It can range from simple persuasion of voters to stay home or can be in the form of raw or dirty tricks where opposition politicians broadcast messages suggesting that the BDP is assured of a landslide victory hence there is no need to register to vote its candidates in large numbers. Voter suppression as a strategy is meant to counter what I propose to call voter inflammation ÔÇô a devious strategy often used by ruling parties to stimulate high turnout and participation to guarantee the stuffing of the ballot boxes with dead persons’ vote and win comfortably.

A central strand of voter suppression is that since the opposition is failing to convince a majority of irrational poor people to give them their votes, then they (opposition politicians) must do something to prevent the poor from registering and voting. Voter suppression is a very complex strategy that requires established tactics that could effectively target a specific voting community by either making them disinterested in elections or making it pretty difficult for them to participate. In essence, through voter suppression the opposition should aim to lower participation of the rural poor in elections ÔÇô BDP’s biggest support base.

My assertion is that the BDP is vulnerable to political scheming intended to suppress participation because a majority of people who vote are the rural poor who mostly support the BDP yet they are gullible, desperate, vulnerable and highly susceptible to misinformation and rarely consider their vote as a powerful voice to shape the future. On the other hand, the opposition has a comparatively small support base but a considerable number of their supporters are sophisticated and less likely to be taken for an easy ride hence more likely to participate and vote in spite of widespread misinformation and naked dishonesty.

Certainly suppression of a specific community of voters would be pure gutter politics but it is the BDP that has elevated toilet politics to an art form. A tired story is that the opposition has limited financial resources but they need to improvise to match the moneyed BDP. Begging for sympathy and small donations would never take them anywhere. They need to get political consultants or sangomas to develop effective voter suppression strategies for them. The bottom line is that if a majority of BDP supporters are discouraged from registering to vote in 2014, the opposition is much more likely to get a bigger share of the total vote.

Be reminded once more that a candidate who is averse to being deceitful is at a disadvantage and is likely to lose the election. In ‘The Art of War’, Sun Tzu reveals that every battle is won before it is fought.


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