Thursday, June 20, 2024

Why has opposition struggled to gain traction in the face of a blundering BDP and government?

The opposition is in a parlous state.

They have not been particularly effective against the excesses of the current government – which are growing more wanton, more determined and in some instances more aggressive.

The current government has no self-doubt.

It has untrammeled power which power it does not hesitate to use.

The recent constitutional amendment coming in spite of the long promised National Constitutional Review is one example.

A yearlong rule by decree is yet another.

Few past administrations have been pricklier and demonstrably less tolerant than the current administration.

All these make it a potentially dangerous government.

It needs to have a strong opposition to keep it on a straight and a narrow.

The State of Emergency was principally called to fight Covid-19.

We now see it being used to achieve other ends unrelated to Covid-19.

In a democracy it is the job of the opposition to defend citizens against the state.

The opposition exists not only to create an alternative but also create caution and even doubt against power.

More crucially, the opposition exists to test and challenge the government and the government propositions. The opposition exists to create an aura of political conflict and disagreement.

It is the opposition’s mandate to provide a countervailing narrative to that of government.

A week opposition is unhealthy for democracy and results in defective governance.

There is something wrong with the current state of opposition.

What is lacking is a killer punch.

Paralysis seems to be endemic.

Clearly a vacancy exists for a credible and believable Leader of Opposition who the people can trust.

That leader has to be a strategic thinker. They will also need to have a name presence. And most crucially they will have to be pragmatic in their approach to politics.

All the current national leaders, including at the ruling party have a public trust deficit.

There is a general loss of faith in the polity.

People think that across the board, our national political leaders lack honour and that they cannot be trusted much less taken at their word.

Right now following 2019, the voter is being eaten up by something that resembles a buyer’s remorse.

The whole of the election outcome was a result of a political experiment.

The test tube has exploded in their hands.

Having burnt their fingers trying an experiment they went into it hoping for the best, Batswana will most unlikely be repeating the same blithely at the next round of elections in 2024.

There is no question that government and the ruling party have been committing mistakes.

For example, they were neither realistic nor honest with the public about cleaning corruption.

But persuading the public that the opposition deserves a chance is proving harder than ever before.

Consequently, the opposition has totally failed to capitalize on all the ruling party mistake.

The danger is that politics is not static.

For now the ruling party is sitting pretty in the knowledge that their mandate takes them to 2024 by which time they would have had sufficient time to devise yet another trick that could deliver votes.

And the ruling party will inevitably find a path out of its current troubles.

In fact, there is still confusion on who the Leader of Opposition is.

However way one looks at it, the opposition is beset by internal fighting.

The low intensity fight between Dumelang Saleshando and Duma Boko has taken an ugly turn.

With every escalation, the UDC looks more and more like an empty shell.

Its true founders; the conveners and the trade unions can now barely touch it even with a long barge.

Duma Boko prefers his old trick to stay behind the scenes and unleash his dogs of war to the front.

Saleshando has chosen academic detachment as his long-term strategy.

But still opposition lacks a strong coordinating platform. This robs the nation of organised disagreement against government around which people could rally.

UDC has not descended into hell just yet.

But early signs are there that it’s on its way there.

They cannot even agree on the most elementary of things.

Integration of the disparate units that make up Umbrella for Democratic Change has long stalled.

Each party is now working on the assumption that the next elections will be contested separately.

Boko of the Botswana National Front and Saleshando of the Botswana Congress Party are barely talking to each other.

Ian Khama of the Botswana Patriotic Front is too busy campaigning to make his party a solid player so that in case there are negotiations he can talk from a position of strength.

Ndaba Gaolathe of the Alliance for Progressives has beefs and grudges with both Saleshando and Boko.

In short, the opposition is mired in internal crisis – including doubts over the legitimacy of Boko as a true UDC leader.

To an extent that these parties and their leaders are involved in inter and intra squabbles, their effectiveness against the BDP will remain badly limited as each leader is endlessly checking the rear mirror and also watching over their shoulder.

Even the Botswana Congress Party, traditionally a bastion of tranquility finds itself having to fend off infiltration that manifests itself through the unwieldly influence that Duma Boko has on its members like Dithapelo Keorapetse.

The BCP has some heavy hitters like Dumelang Saleshando, Kesitegile Gobotswanag, Taolo Lucas, Kenny Kapinga, Keorapetse and a few others.

But even with them the party does not seem to possess the kind of lethal power that is needed to inflict harm to the troubled Botswana Democratic Party.

The result is a vicious cycle. And a road to nowhere.

Umbrella for Democratic Change was created chiefly to tackle the issue of fragmentation among opposition parties.

Unfortunately, new demons have now reared their ugly heads.

Instead of planning and plotting to remove the BDP and Mokgweetsi Masisi, the collective opposition is busy planning on how to defeat and remove one another.

For an opposition that is so internally at loggerheads, it is perhaps not surprising that the parties have struggled for relevance.

Is it to anybody’s surprise that it often feels like we are a one-party state?

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