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Home » Columns » Cross Roads, Bcp Is Vindicated

Cross Roads, Bcp Is Vindicated

Publishing Date : 10 July, 2017

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)
BCP Deputy Leader

 

Sir Ketumile Marise’s send-off gave some sections of Batswana the opportunity to take a deep reflection on the country’s current state of affairs. In particular, the occasion provided a rare moment for some members of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to vent out their frustrations on the way the country and their party is being governed.

 

BDP political stalwarts like Daniel Kwelagobe took the lead in their public outcry.  When paying tribute to Sir Ketumile the former Secretary General and later Chairperson of the ruling party made reference to the famous Biblical message which talks about cross roads. By way of paraphrasing, it says that when you realise that you have lost the road, you must go back to the crossroads to chart the right path.
 

Kwelagobe is not the only one in the BDP who has expressed serious concerns over the state of affairs in the country. The former President Festus Mogae has once expressed his views over the deterioration of the rule of law, a critical tenet of democracy. 
 

Last week we talked about Masire’s parting shot aimed at the controversial introduction of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Following Masire’s footsteps Kwelagobe made his views against EVMs publicly known. Not to be left behind religious organizations also advised government against the EVMs. In his pastoral letter Bishop Valentine Seane of the Catholic Church was unequivocal in his rejection of the EVMs.
 

To many Batswana across the political divide the EVM will turn out to be the last straw that will break the camel’s back. Its suspicious intentions, its timing and the manner in which the bill was introduced got many people talking. In particular, lack of consultation and rushing the passing of the bill in the middle of the night was yet another example that the country has gone astray.
 

Another Bill that was introduced in a similar manner was the Presidential Retirement Bill. Parliament stayed overnight to make sure that they passed a bill that will virtually give the next retired president everything that he ever dreamed of as a young person.  Ian Khama will get all the things he needed in life not through hard work but by an accident of history. Upon retirement Khama will be the envy of successful hardworking business people like Rre David Magang and Satar Dada.
 

As if this was not enough Khama recently issued a Presidential Directive to hand over Air Botswana (the national airline) to Wilderness Safaris, a company in which he has vested business interest. Had Wilderness Safaris not somersaulted it was a done deal. Media reports indicate that Khama may not have given up on the weird idea of directly benefiting from the sale of Air Botswana.
 

The above examples are clear indications that under the moribund BDP, Botswana has been reduced to a banana republic. This country is only a democracy only in so far as it holds regular elections every five years. It is the type of democracy that begins and ends on the day of elections.
 

Where did we go wrong, is the big question.  According to Kwelagobe the crossroads is where consultation became a thing of the past. Since the statement was made at the funeral of an elder statesman, he focused on lack of consultation of the party elders.  Consulting the elders on matters of national interest is necessary but not sufficient. In a true democracy the critical point is to consistently consult with the voters on matters that affect them.
 

Another point raised by Kwelagobe to drive his point home was the closure of mines. BCL Mine in particular was closed under suspicious circumstances resulting in the loss of 6000 jobs.  In my recollection it was the most ruthless decision ever taken by an elected government against citizens in the history of Botswana.
 

Following Kwelagobe’s utterances Kabo Morwaeng who is a member of the BDP Election Board ventured into the issue of returning the party and government back to cross roads.  In his narrow view returning to crossroads was about improving the management of primary elections dubbed Bulela Ditswe.
 

It is generally believed that Kwelagobe’s views were directed at President Khama. However, some have ventured to think that it is Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi who must take note of the clarion call as President in waiting. This is informed by the fact that Khama is increasingly becoming a lame duck president as focus shifts to Masisi. Besides he does not possess the requisite inclination to change his trajectory.  For him a call for the return to cross roads is too little too late.
 

We should not lose sight of the fact that it was the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) that warned Batswana against the path the BDP had chosen under the Khama administration. In 2008 the title of the BCP/BAM joint Manifesto was entitled “A Nation at Cross roads: Which Way Now – Democracy and Prosperity or Dictatorship and Economic Collapse.”
 

Our prediction of a bleak future coincided with the reign of Khama as President of Botswana. Excitement among the general population was unprecedented. There was a great sense of optimism.  It was anticipated that when Khama leaves office in 2018 Botswana will be in the same league with countries like Dubai and Singapore. 


Borrowing a leaf from David Magang many had anticipated that Khama was destined to become the benevolent dictator. Even the best economists never thought that a country like Rwanda could become an economic success story from Africa ahead of Botswana.
 

One of the major deviations from a promising developmental path was the introduction of the so-called 4Ds (Democracy, Development, Dignity, and Discipline) which later became five.  The four national principles of Democracy, Development, Self-Reliance, and Unity were seriously undermined by Khama’s political slogans in the form of the 4Ds. As expected everybody within the system jumped into the bandwagon to please the President and secure their “entitlements”.  The four national principles took a back seat. This was a huge setback for Botswana.
 

As Khama approaches the end of his term in office, not many Batswana will remember his political slogans that were parroted as national principles. They have ceased to be a feature of the official statements. Even the originator of the Ds hardly mentions them in his frequent address of kgotla meetings.  Returning to cross roads must entail the revival of national principles.
 

Almost ten years after the BCP’s prophetic message Botswana of today has shifted from its core democratic values. Under the corrupt-ridden BDP, authoritarianism reigns. The economy is under intensive care.  To call it a government of thieves, by thieves for thieves is a serious underestimation. The painful truth is that BCP has been vindicated.

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