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2014 General election or referendum on Khama?

Publishing Date : 06 November, 2014

Author : COMRADE MOORE


The BDP regime is running scarred and making suicidal blunders in the process. The best example is how President Khama recently de-campaigned his own part in Maun by engaging in character assassination of Kgosi Tawana and in the process insulting the very Batwana whose votes he craves. We say, let the BDP tremble because it is time they are told in clear categorical terms that; Mene Mene Tekel Uphrasin  - ‘the writing is on the wall.

Their days are numbered. And no one should in any way temper with the verdict of the people on October 24 because as they put it Latin; vox populi, vox Dei i.e. the ‘voice of the people is the voice of God’. For many years the opposition has endured and accepted the results of the elections, including dubious ones, and now it is the turn of the BDP to endure and accept the unpalatable verdict of the people.


As the election day draws closer, the single most important question each and every voter must ask him/herself is whether this is just another routine general election or whether this election must be turned a referendum on Ian Khama’s dictatorship. This is the opportune moment for Batswana to speak in one powerful voice and say ; enough is enough of Khama dictatorial regime? They must vote the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to save their country from Khama’s dictatorship.


When he assumed office Khama promised to deliver on five Ds, - ‘democracy’, ‘ development’, ‘discipline’, ‘dignity’ and ‘delivery’. It has been a period of spectacularly  broken promises and yet he still thinks he can get away with making even more promises. As the English expression goes; jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never jam today! Batswana are sick and tired of empty promises and want their development ‘jam’ today, not tomorrow.


Once upon a time Botswana was a nation internationally renowned for being at peace with itself. Indeed  when Botswana was surrounded by white minority ruled regimes in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa Sir Seretse Khama’s description of this country as ‘an island of sanity, peace and tranquility in a sea of turbulence’ was spot on and quite apposite. Then Batswana lived in fear of Ian Smith’s  ‘hot pursuit’ of so-called ‘terrorists’ who allegedly mounted attacks on  Rhodesia and fled to Botswana for hiding.

We also lived in fear of military incursions by the South African apartheid regime in pursuit of what they claimed were ANC military command and control centres in Botswana. That was the apartheid regime’s excuse for killing South African refugees in Botswana. 

Ironically, since 1994 when South Africans regained their independence  and Southern Africa  ceased to be theatre of revolutions instead of Batswana enjoying the peace dividends the country now lives in fear once again. This time Batswana live in fear of Khama’s abominable  monstrosity  called the Directorate on Intelligence (DIS) secret gendarmerie.


We are now witnessing a vicious assault on the institutions and traditions of democracy that were developed, nurtured and agreed upon by past leaders of the country, ruling and opposition, as well as the general populace of Botswana for 42 years.  In a short space of time Khama has transformed this country in the wrong direction almost beyond recognition. Never before have this country’s  civil liberties and freedoms been so severely threatened.

Khama’s DIS ostensibly set up to protect Batswana from foreign enemies is ironically presiding over state terrorism in the country - the magnitude of which has never been seen in this country before. Today Batswana live in fear, not of the imagined foreign enemies, but in fear of the all-powerful DIS which was supposed to protect them from foreign enemies.

The real tragedy is that this state of affairs does not seem to bother Ian Khama one little bit. One cannot identify a single Khama initiative designed to enhance, strengthen and consummate the country’s democracy which his father correctly described as a plant that must be carefully nurtured. Instead of strengthening the institutions of democracy Khama is preoccupied with intimidating and silencing the nation while attempting to build a personality cult.


Extreme intolerance, heavy-handedness and unbridled white-collar theft are assuming alarming proportions. The President is not amenable to advice from any quarter - all he wants is to be surrounded by a bunch of head-nodding puppets and stooges who tell him what he wants to hear.

Political activists, journalists, human rights lawyers, trade unionists, authors, the clergy and even musicians are intimidated, harassed and sometimes tortured and beaten up by the notorious DIS, which has, to all intents and purposes, become a law unto itself. Hit-lilts of politicians and journalists are being bandied about.

BMD leader Gomolemo Motswaledi died under mysterious circumstances and the Khama regime did not care. Even former Presidents Masire and Mogae are feeling the pinch and have already sounded a warning to Ian Khama. Sadly, with every day that passes the prophetic words uttered by former BDP Assistant Minister, Oliphant Mfa  that under Ian Khama democracy will be enjoyed only by those in prisons and in their graves  ring true.


There is a growing number of extra-judicial killings of criminal suspects without recourse to courts of law or due process, because as former President Mogae observes, this ‘’regime’ does not respect the rule of law. Where is the ‘dignity’’ of the people who are cold-bloodedly murdered by state agents  without recourse to the courts of law? For the first time in the history of this country the UNHCR reports that there are 229 Batswana refugees who fled to other countries. They  have since been joined by Kgosi Kgafela of Mochudi and Edgar Tsimane of the Sunday Standard.

The DIS taps our telephone messages and jams private radio stations. According to former President Mogae, Khama has expelled over 2, 000 people from this country – more than all the foreigners expelled by former presidents of this country combined. A country which once enjoyed the reputation of welcoming refugees under Khama’s tyranny  is beginning to produce refugees.

Certainly, this is not the Botswana we need and we must speak out against this unfolding dictatorship through the ballot. If this opportunity is not seized the next five years will be the longest five years in the history of our five year electoral cycle because as the saying goes, he who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount i.e. this dictatorship can only worsen if, God forbid, it is given another term in office.


Regarding discipline and delivery, if Khama was serious he should have come up with a Ministerial Code of Conduct to reign in his corrupt ministers . What we seeing instead is that ministers facing criminal allegations are arrogantly allowed to stay in office and continue with their court battles.

This is an affront to social justice and insult to Batswana who were promised ‘discipline’ and ‘delivery’. By now laws on the Declaration of Assets and Freedom of Information Bill to enable Batswana to fight the cancer of  unbridled kleptocracy should have been passed by parliament.

That international organizations report that the ruling class has stashed a whopping P50 billion in foreign banks while nearly half Batswana are languishing in needless poverty  does not bother Khama one little bit. Many of the poverty-stricken Batswana are regularly paraded on Btv surrounding Father Christmas Ian Khama as he doles out soup, diphaphatha, blankets and other cheap election bribes in gross violation of their personal ‘dignity’ – the very principle he promised to uphold in 2008.


For me the major highlights of this year’s election campaign was to share the political platform with Johnson MOtswharakgole representatives of BOFEPUSO who took the correct and historic decision to abandon petty bourgeois trade union neutrality and forge a strategic partnership with UDC. The UDC’s human rights approach to development and commitment to the second generation of rights as encapsulated in the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is the single most important reason why the 100 000 strong BOFEPUSO has rallied behind the UDC.  

For many years this is what we have been calling for – as the first step towards the emancipation of the working class The first step to freedom in the labour movement is to abandon  false political neutrality and consciously  build strategic alliances with revolutionary parties  while safeguarding their relative autonomy as trade unions. 

The labour movement came to this historic decision after being subjected to sustained  harassment by the Khama regime to a point where they were told that even if they went on strike for five years he would never succumb to their demands. October 24th  is pay-back time. Workers must jettison the BDP regime from power  for the next five years.


My lowest point in this general election is the BCP’s decision to renege on its commitment to work with other opposition political parties in a broad anti-Khama United Front even when there is enough evidence that his tyranny will not spare anyone, not even the BCP.

Recently their activists have been roughed-up apparently by members of the DIS. Our only saving grace is the statement Dumelang Saleshando made before his organization abandoned the Umbrella project – that any party that withdraws from the project must be punished by the electorate.

To all those who understood the imperative necessity of forging a broad anti-Khama, and this includes BCP members themselves, October 24th is pay-back time. Let us punish the BCP leadership by voting the UDC to save our country from Khama’s terror tactics. On October 24th the poverty-stricken masses of this country will have real power in their hands to changes all this and usher in a new  democratic  dispensation under the leadership of the UDC.
 

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