Saturday, June 3, 2023

What Minister Molale did recently in Barolong constituency was a bit callous

The succession saga inside ruling party and government goes on.

And with its frequent twists and turns, it’s beginning to make grown up men look like little school boys in their thinking.

Unfortunately for people of Barolong, their constituency has become a battleground for a succession fi ght of which they are not a part.

They might not be aware of it because they have certainly not consented to it, but the people of Barolong have been locked into a senseless succession battle the path and true discourse of which they have no material input.

Everybody would by now be aware that Member of Parliament for Barolong, Kgosi Lotlaamoreng has not been well.

As a result he was not present when the ongoing parliament session opened as he was reported to be recuperating in a clinic in South Africa.

His health has become a big national issue, not only because of his position, but because there are people who want to use it for their own ambitions.

As a ruling party Member of Parliament with personal political interests in the Barolong constituency ÔÇô and according to BDP secretary General, assigned to coordinate the constituency on behalf of the party, Minister Eric Molale has shown some ham-fi sted approach towards politics.

And in an unintended way Molale, for his ambitions has also shown that he is also not politically sophisticated. Given that before joining politics he was the country’s number one civil servant, to say his is pedestrian might be an understatement.

Whatever his motives, his descent into the constituency to kick start a campaign when the incumbent member of parliament was bedridden was always going to create a backlash, not least because of the bruising political fi ght that he previously had with Kgosi Lotlaamoreng during a by-election that was eventually won by Lotlaamoreng.

Some very basic mistakes have been committed. And their ramifi cations might eventually cost him his most prized trophy ÔÇô the presidency.

As a politician Molale should know that Lotlaamoreng is not only a politician but also a traditional leader of Barolong people.

And it is not clear how such a glaring piece of symbolism could have escaped the minister.

If he was not aware of possible consequences of his action, then there exists a huge blind spot in his approach to politics that he needs to immediately take care of.

Chieftainship in Botswana is an exceedingly complex and multi-dimensional institution, sprawling politics, societal cohesion, economics and always etched above everything else.

As a former District Commissioner, it is inconceivable that minister Molale would not have factored these elementary points in his scheme before he went to address campaign rallies at Barolong.

If he did not then the minister was being churlish, crude or just outright insensitive.

During the by-election campaign I attended a rally where Molale effectively said he was senior to Lotlaamoreng in the lineage of Rolong Chieftainship.

At that same rally Molale went further to cast doubts on Lotlaamoreng’s chieftainship bonafi des, saying he did not know him well because he (Molale) would have been away as Lotlaamoreng was growing up.

To those who were present, this went beyond the pale. It amounted to sacrilege.

Even to Molale’s political sympathizers the statement amounted to a heresy.

Regardless of their party political affi liation, many Batswana still set aside a special position in their hearts for their traditional chiefs.

And they take serious exception when an impression is being created that their traditional leaders are being insulted or just scorned even for the slightest political convenience.

This is a painful hard fact that those vying for political offi ce against traditional chiefs should always respect.

And Lotlaamoreng is not just some ordinary chief. He is a paramount one, if by the way such a word exists.

A few lessons will have to be leant from the ill-advised decision to effectively start a premature process of a byelection in Barolong.

The fi rst major point is that this time around there is no byelection happening in Barolong in the near future.

Kgosi Lotlaamoreng is back in Parliament. When I saw him in Parliament on Thursday afternoon he looked to me healthier, fresher and certainly much more tuned up than was the case when I last saw him some months back.

The second lesson is that if Molale is indeed indispensable to the ruling party succession plans, then they might as a party have to start looking elsewhere outside Barolong. Lobatse is the most obvious and easiest target because they currently hold that constituency as a party.


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