Ntuane is not helping matters either by appearing to be on a BDP praise poetry streak. One would be hard pressed to recall any time in the last four months when the Leader of Opposition offered a clear cut position that was a departure from the ruling party. From upbraiding opposition Members of Parliament for not doing enough to sell government citizen empowerment policies like CEDA to a cautious conciliatory approach on the BDF procurement processes, Ntuane has come across more as a BDP back bencher than a Leader of Opposition. Now recently In this same blog I sang Ntuane praises for his calls for reconciliation, I basically made a point why he is the right man to lead Botswana (well to be Vice President seeing as the Presidency is not about to be changed). I stand by what I said. From a purely national leader point of view, Ntuane is easily the best leader at the moment. Yes better than Khama himself who is easily the most divisive president Botswana has ever had.
My contention today simply is that Ntuane’s position is untenable and impractical for opposition. His arguments are bad for the beleaguered opposition movement in Botswana. The sad state of our opposition parties does not need a voice that further puts paid to the need for their presence. Indeed this is what Ntuane is doing. The reality on the ground is simply that BDP has a huge majority. It does not need anybody in opposition explaining their policy or positions on any policy. If the BDP lacks erudite or articulate members of parliament (and quite clearly they do) to explain their policies, it is not the business of the Leader of Opposition to rescue them. In fact his business is to show up their weaknesses and press home the advantage. The BDP is a master class at doing this. The smallest sign of weakness from opposition is exploited to the maximum, it is exaggerated and the opposition will be beaten about the head with the weakness until kingdom comes! Not so with this Leader of Opposition. He appears to go out of his way to point out the good in government policies. In fact the BDP has taken advantage of this and the normally abrasive Vice President Mompati Merafhe has taken to praising Ntuane left right and centre. It is doubtful this is done in good spirit, the VP is not known for being magnanimous; and this is a man who clearly stated that supporting a well meaning motion from an opposition MP would deprive the BDP MPs of the limelight. He does not dish out praises wily nilly. This is the same VP whose present to a BMD member of parliament in the form of neckties somehow found its way into the national agenda. The VP is not very generous with compliments when he praises someone from the other side, forgive people for being very skeptical about the sincerity of the compliment. This is precisely why Ntuane is increasingly being viewed with suspicion by opposition supporters. He is attracting praise from the enemy before the war is over.
Previously BMD members could boldly defend Ntuane; boldly they would dismiss talk of him retracing his steps to the BDP. There however has been a noticeable slow down in defending Ntuane. Indeed there has been some criticism from within the party itself. There has also been discomfort. Some party functionaries have not been as bold as they need to be in denying reports that he will be going back. Ntuane himself has not categorically denied the reports. He has ridiculed them, casually dismissed them and even laughed them off. Now Ntuane is a seriously smart man but one cannot help but wonder about one or two things; Is Ntuane jokingly dismissing the rumour? Do they lack merit and warrant no attention? Or is Ntuane at pains to avoid making definitive statements that will later be difficult to retract should he indeed retrace his steps?
Ntuane has a responsibility to put to rest these rumours; now it could well be unfair to doubt the man’s commitment to the opposition course. After all Ntuane as Botswana’s only care politician has a history of swimming against the flow could have identified a way of bringing about a change in approach opposition politics. He could well be a breath of fresh air. I would not be surprised if indeed this was the case. Ntuane is a talented enough politician to do this sort of thing. He is the sort of leader who leaves a mark in whatever he does. Whatever his ideas however, he is hurting opposition parties. He is undermining the unity and stability of the Umbrella. He is compromising the party he cofounded. Ntuane must make a comprehensive statement that categorically states that he will not be leaving the opposition camp let alone go to the ruling party. While this might not necessarily bring an end to speculation, the presence of a stated denial that he is headed back to the BDP as well as a stated commitment to the BMD and the opposition movement in general could calm a few nerves. If indeed he is leaving this may not make a difference but as things stand, Ntuane is increasingly coming across as more a liability to the opposition in general and the BMD in particular. There is only so much that the media can do, they can only ask questions and as and when Ntuane flippantly answers the questions, the sorry is done and dusted. Ntuane he cannot be as flippant when dealing with BMD members and functionaries, they need to insist on a categorical denial of the rumors because as things stand, continued talk of his possible defection is bad for the already low perceptions about opposition.