Of late, it has become popular political campaign fodder for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), its sympathizers as well as the desperate anti BPF cava faction brigade to pin well documented historic BDP failures to the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), all because of its association with former president Khama.
Not only is this mischievous, disingenuous and counter-intuitive, as General Khama was BDP leader in the last 10 years, it is also a blatant misrepresentation of the truth by a desperate party and its leadership that never wants to take responsibility for anything. Below are a few denominators of the major differences between the old, declining BDP and the new bouncing kid on the block who has taken the political landscape by a whirlwind, the BPF:
The first difference between the two parties is that the BDP is a 54 year old clueless organization that is fast approaching its demise, the party’s electoral popular vote has been declining since 1974, and was only rescued from political dejection by the popularity of its former president Seretse Khama Ian Khama who moved it from 50% popular vote in the 2004 elections to 53% in 2009. Currently, there is no iota of doubt that it will be removed as Botswana’s ruling party at the polls on October 23rd. On the other hand, the BPF is a newly formed, agile and versatile, fast growing, formidable opposition party with diverse membership that is growing in leaps and bounds.
The current BDP has been systematically reduced to a personality cult as witnessed by its shallow slogans that have replaced policy based issues in their campaign leading up to the 2019 elections. #GoMasisi, #MasisiWareBitsa, #SisiFied #Sisiboy #MokgweetsiWarona is all people hear, replacing slogans that spoke about the party and people like 100% Domi or There is still no alternative among others. Too thin on policy and pressing issues affecting Batswana. On the other hand, the BPF speaks about an immediate overhaul of the civil service and comprehensive constitutional review. The BPF is also categoric on the increase in Old Age Pension and a 100% subsidy pensioners’ transport and elderly travel warrant for those 70 and above to honor our senior citizens.
The BPF commits to reducing old age pension eligibility to 60 from 65 years, increase in minimum wage which the BDP has conveniently omitted to address, 50% increase in student allowances, building social housing units on a rent to buy basis for the youth earning less than P10, 000 per month amongst many others. The above will be advocated for when the party negotiates the terms of its strategic alliance with the UDC at the opportune time.
The BDP is led by pretenders, hard-nosed tenderpreneurs and hypocrites posing as reformers and our national’s “saviors”. President MEK Masisi has been in office for 16 months now, yet no meaningful steps have been taken to show real intent to review the constitution and enhance the independence of law enforcement agencies such as the DIS and the DCEC. In fact, there is increased use of these institutions, as well as BURS, to fight President Masisi’s political battles and settle old scores. On the other hand, through its alliance with the UDC, the BPF speaks about an immediate and concrete action towards these reforms and other pressing matters such as less secrecy in the negotiations of the Botswana/De Beers Mining license agreement and an autonomous, self-regulating free press when the revolutionary alliance ascends to power.
The BDP represents all that is wrong with Botswana; an economy that is not inclusive, an obsession with foreign investment at the exclusion of local investment, comparative underdevelopment, lack of economic diversification, an intolerant government, curtailing of media freedoms and rampant corruption. It is alarming that the president’s name keeps cropping up in several corruption cases, be it Capital Management Botswana (CMB) donation to dubai campaign camp, National Petroleum Fund (NPF) donations and now donations from problem riddled choppies supermarket chain, and yet he has not been charged along with his senior permanent secretary.
Another example of BDP failures is the recently passed law that criminalizes access to information that is of public interest. On the other hand, the BPF represents renewed hope, unity of purpose and a change of the status quo, it represents the first exchange of government from one political party to another in our life time. It represents succession from the edifices of a decadent past to an equitable, just and caring nation.
By great celestial design, the BPF eats menacingly away at the traditional strongholds of the BDP which are in the central district and some far flung places in Gantsi and the Nata/Gweta area. This, coupled with the unity of the two biggest opposition political parties in Botswana being BCP and the BNF, is surely making for a wonderful procession that is leading to the much anticipated burial of Domkrag come election day.
The BPF is a remarkable organization, an indispensable revolutionary catalyst to the noble agenda of regime change, which will usher in fresh brains, disruptive ideas and skills that will contribute to solving the socio economic milieu that bedevil our nation and propel our country and its economy to greater and new frontiers.
More than 16 months after taking power, President Masisi has implemented little to no reforms in our institutions and government. There is still no freedom of information bill, youth unemployment is rising to new levels, no independence of oversight institutions, no constitutional review, corruption is increasing rapidly and the declaration of assets bill passed is a big sham that criminalises journalism.
Our country has been brought to a distressing standstill by the BDP, only one thing is consistent, plentiful and pitiful signs of political desperation that point to the beginning of the end of the old party, and the dawn of a true, enlightened democratic state that stands to enhance our democratic pluralism and position our country among the greats and truly accomplished nations.
*Motlhabani is the Information & Publicity Secretary for Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF)