‘Throwing the cat among the pigeons is a British idiom used to describe a disturbance caused by an undesirable person from the perspective of a group’. That is precisely how those campaigning for the re-election of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairman Rre Slumber Tsogwane view the entrance of Rre Nonofo Molefhi. And that is how far he will come and go. Belatedly as it is and has become his modus operandi, Rre Molefhi stands potentially to dethrone Rre Tsogwane all things being equal. One does not have to go far back in history to recall how in 2019, things were not equal for Mme Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi when she was vilified for daring to challenge President Masisi for the BDP number one position. It may appear on the surface that the BDP is stable relative to the main opposition conglomerate, the Umbrella for Democracy (UDC). Truth be told however, the BDP is in denial that all is well and there is no need to press panic buttons. The fact of the matter is that you hardly hear for example BDP members commenting on the ugly spat between the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS). Not that they approve of it but that they do not want to offend the political leadership particularly the President. So the arrival of Rre Molefhi is against this context-that all that glitters is not gold.
I am not aware of Rre Molefhi’s roadmap and those who support his course because he has just joined the contest. But I want to believe he is joining the contest because he feels from the bottom of his heart that his party has lost or is losing the plot to meaningfully change for the better the political and socio-economic circumstances of Batswana. Put differently, he is raising his hand to fundamentally influence and change the status quo at party level. This is where the problem is. What is the status quo that requires a serious paradigm shift? There are a plethora of issues the current BDP administration under President Masisi is playing lip service to.
President Masisi and his cabinet members acknowledge that corruption is the biggest elephant in the room yet, very little to nothing is demonstrated to meaningfully fight the elephant. Parliament, and to be precise his BDP Members of Parliament and like it was the case during President Masisi’s predecessors’ tenure, are his biggest fans who do not hide it. They dance to any tune he proposes without breaking any sweat. The Rule of Law like I opined last week, has simply become the Rule of Man. Every dear reader who follows Botswana’s political discourse, will know the many instances in the period pre and post the President’s promotion to the highest office in the land that the Rule of Law is beautifully spoken about when what obtains on the ground point to the contrary. The socio-economic circumstances of Batswana in all spheres of their lives has been deteriorating pre and post the President’s arrival and very little suggests the situation will become any better before it becomes worse. The civil service is so politicised to the point where alliances of convenience have become the norm than the exception. That is, civil servants particularly those in executive positions have abdicated their professional ethics to push a political agenda that serves the political leadership.
All the above and some not mentioned, happened to some degree when Rre Molefhi served in government with the President and the very person he intends to dethrone, Rre Tsogwane. Rre Molefhi’s last position in cabinet was that of Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration as it was called then. Before this, he had served as Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology. By implication of these positions let alone that he was a directly elected Member of Parliament for Selebi-Phikwe East, he was at the belly of every decision taken at either cabinet or parliament levels hence my position that he aided and abetted part of what is unfolding. To be fair to him though, I cannot blame him for what took place after his departure from government. The sad reality he cannot convincingly run away from is that just like his colleagues who have fallen out of favour with the current regime in the persons of Hon Dow, Hon Matsheka and Hon Balopi to mention but a few, they embraced the alliances of convenience when it perfectly served them in many respects at the time. They were there when the DIS ran amok as it does to this day where they were complicit by their silences. But as they would say, it is better late than never. I will not punish Rre Molefhi and his colleagues if they have regained their consciences-that a serious and honest paradigm shift is required to steer this country onto the right course where Batswana become the centre of attraction. Anything else will be hypocrisy of unbelievable proportions. They say once beaten twice shy.
The status quo Rre Molefhi aided and abetted is now probably more entrenched than ever before. It is in a deep state configuration if you allow me to describe it as such. It requires a complete overhaul. Camp Dubai which he failed to beat back then is still fairly solid as it was in 2017 because it is endowed with State machinery and resources to deliver another crushing blow on whoever stands on its path. Assuming he succeeds in beating Rre Tsogwane and by extension the President which for me appears a bridge too far much as it was when he attempted to dethrone President from a similar position in 2017, he will be the second in command after the President at Tsholetsa House. The BDP Central Committee is populated by the President’s yes men and women who expectedly, will move mountains to ensure Rre Molefhi is by hook or crook prevented from becoming the chairman of the BDP and in the process ensuring the incumbent stays put. The ongoing re-configuration of BDP structures at local government levels are geared to ensure the delegates to the August elective congress are populated by those whose loyalties lie with the President and no one else. One is expecting to witness the repetition of the Dubai Camp (though it could be on a lesser scale) where opulence in terms of the goodies we witnessed then will be on full display. On this score, Rre Molefhi appears seriously on the back foot.
Flowing from my position that all is not well in the BDP with many members disgruntled over so many internal party matters like issues to do with Bulela Ditse (party primary elections) where incumbents complain they may be set for failure come the actual primary election and the general election in 2024; complaints that the BDP is performing so badly in parliament that chances of incumbent MPs and Councillors coming back after 2024 look dimmer; complaints by the BDP backbench that it is not properly and sufficiently consulted by Ministers on matters they bring to parliament whereupon they are expected to support such matters; the fact that government is not doing enough to meaningfully address high cost of living for Batswana. The cherry on top should be the unprecedented manner in which the DIS has ceased to be an intelligence institution in the true sense of the word to being a militia kind of a structure. The list is endless. On account of these complaints, Rre Molefhi could stand a chance of causing an upset if delegates change heart at the eleventh hour. On any rainy day, these complaints guarantee greater prospects of success. This is highly unlikely given the history of the goodies of Camp Dubai and the strong grip on BDP structures Rre Tsogwane seems to be enjoying.
While Rre Molefhi is throwing the cat among the pigeons by challenging the incumbent Rre Tsogwane, immediate past history where he was in a similar position does not augur well for him. Take nothing away from him because he is such a smart and decent individual. One believes he has been organising out of the public glare for support. But these should be individuals who over and above all else, are delegates who will vote for him. It will be an embarrassment and humiliation to him if he does not put a credible show this time around to avoid the whitewash he witnessed in 2017. I believe he has learnt the hard way to repeat the same mistakes. Only time will tell. I am prepared to be persuaded otherwise as always. Judge for Yourself!
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