Sunday, January 16, 2022

What went wrong in these elections: The BCP’s side of the story

Post election period has arrived and, as expected from any serious organisation, post mortem has begun in earnest. The primary purpose of this exercise is to assess where things went wrong, in case of the losing parties, or right for the winning one, and chart the best possible way forward.

In politics, unlike business organisation, the process is often a delicate and complex one. Complex as this endeavour proves to be, however, this instalment reflects on what next for our opposition political parties, especially the BCP. I will not pay much attention on independent candidates, principally because they don’t constitute any formal institutions. To date, we have heard publicly from the BCP and that is why I concentrate on them. The UDC and BDP have not come out publicly to inform the nation on their electoral performance and what they make sense their effort and it is fitting for me to leave them out at this moment.

A few days ago on Gabzfm morning drive show, Taolo Lucas of the BCP was reflecting on his party’s electoral performance. He was speaking on the back of the party’s leadership forum in Palapye over the weekend, where various constituency representatives outlined challenges that, according to their assessment, best explained the below expected performance in this year’s general elections. This meeting appeared to be of strategic nature. There was a sense of purpose ÔÇô a kind of business like atmosphere heading into the process. Undoubtedly, it was a great thing to do whether the party performed good or bad in the electoral contest. To track its progress, any serious organisation from time to time does engage in self seeking mission. Likewise, the BCP wanted to know all regarding the recent past electoral performance. For instance, they wanted to have a clear idea in terms of what factors worked against them and, in turn, lead to dismal performance they experienced. They also wanted to know what needed to be done to sustain relevance as a party post 2014. In many ways this was a commendable move on the party leadership.

In his radio engagement, Rre Lucas touched on many issues which he felt summed up the 2014 elections. He was frank; the party performed below expectations. Leading to the elections, he reminded us, as a party they thought they were best placed to challenge for state power. They had done a solid homework to woo the voters on their side. Some of the things they did which he thought gave them hope of winning was the detailed and responsive manifesto. To him it talked to the needs and challenges Batswana faced. It also detailed solutions they proposed to bring to end misery of our people, brought upon them by the misrule of the BDP. Beyond the manifesto, they also engaged in a complex campaign. Various strategies such as the campaign bus were adopted. All these made for a very promising and exciting campaign. Like many members of his party, when the results were announced they came as a surprise.

As indicated earlier, on the back of the heavy defeat a retreat was in order. They chose the symbolically important Palapye for that session. For those who were not around in 1998, Palapye is sort of a spiritual home for the BCP. It was in this town where, after a painful struggle, they were born. In here they sort of experienced a painful arrival in this world, especially in a town that nowadays is synonymous with everything bad about the BDP regime. Who can forget the Glass project debacle or the failed Morupule B power project or the BUIST mess? Perhaps the BCP wanted fitting surroundings to expeditiously undertake an evaluation exercise of everything about the party’s electoral performance and that of the BDP led government on matters of governance.

Some of the key factors the BCP delegates identified to have created chaos for the party in the elections were numerous but he chose to focus on what he called lies peddled against the BCP by opponents, which were directed mainly to tarnish the image of party leadership. Taolo accused opponents for lying about the purported association of party president and BDP leaders when it came to business. Dumelang Saleshando, effectively, was presented as a hypocrite, who during the day criticised BDP leaders of corruption in particular and bad governance in general, but dined with the enemy and sealed business deals with them in the cover of darkness. Another lie had to do with the purported withdrawal of the BCP from the Umbrella arrangement. All these, according to him, were lies.

I was a bit disappointed with his presentation on radio. Like I indicated above, the meeting in Palapye was presented more of a strategic retreat where serious introspection was to be undertaken. A solemn and painful exercise where one would look himself or herself in the face and confront reality head on, if I may use that expression. To be honest, when you engage in a strategic evaluation, you would want to know where you went wrong as an organisation before you worry about factors beyond yours. And this did not come out clearly. From his deliberation this morning I was left with more questions than answers. The emphasis of his presentation was more on the external factors with little or nothing of substance offered to present a rounded explanation of what went wrong in the elections. He sounded more guarded than prepared to face reality as it is.

And the reality is that they performed badly in the elections. Why did they lose? I don’t have a crystal ball but politics is about the public mood. The mood was for change. And Batswana wanted a collective opposition to confront the BDP. They chose not to listen. Instead, they paid more attention on crafting what they termed sound policies to take Batswana forward. Sadly, it would seem, they did not go to Batswana to understand their worries. The strange thing is that a party that has been the touch bearer on matters of coalition opted out this time around to pursue party growth when the country was burning. Going forward the hope is that sooner or later BCP would once again came to the table and lead in brining opposition parties together.

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