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The Nasha factor and the political cost of self importance

Everything else in the last week was eclipsed by the news that Margaret Nasha had resigned from the Democratic Party and joined the UDC. That move alone has been enough to change the country’s political landscape with the follow up developments still, perhaps, to come.

The BDP, very naturally, has begun to play down its significance and will presumably suggest that politically she is a spent force and therefore no great loss.

Nevertheless, the defection of such a major figure, with an election due next year can only be seen as a major setback.

The full implications of her defection will, however, become apparent only after, say, a three-month period when we will see if hers proves to be a one off, a personal phenomenon, akin to Wellie Seboni’s change of political heart, or the beginnings of something a great deal more significant. 

 Now that she has opened the door, for instance, will others find it easier to take the route which she has provided for them? Right now, there are so many other unknowns.

With her recent book, Madam Speaker Sir, not least, the blessed Margaret made publicly known the extent of her unease with the current political scene.  There followed her inevitable replacement as Speaker of the National Assembly and her hoped for disappearance, according to the BDP’s script, from the public scene. 

Will people now accept her claim to be a conviction politician who is dead set on putting the country to rights? 

 Or will they see her as another seeker after power?  But she will have to be incredibly smart.  In the UDC there will be those who will welcome her and those who will resent her involvement and suspect her motives. 

But if she can show that she has the attentive ear of women and the young and that she is able to capitalise on the dissatisfaction with the BDP shown in the last election, she will be away and flying. The BDP in recent weeks has come up with a spate of initiatives intended to restore its political fortunes.

There has been the Economic Stimulus Programme, whose primary purpose, now apparently admitted, is to re-invigorate the party.

And there has been the conviction that political salvation is to be achieved by fiddling with the electoral system although it is not so long ago that the Major General himself advised the party that there was no point trying to repair it when it wasn’t broken.

Times, however, have changed, and the last election demonstrated very clearly that something is indeed broken and the urgent need is to determine what

that ‘something’ might be? The BDP has decided that it is the electoral system which it needs now to fix.

Thus, dump supplementary registration, double the number of constituencies and elected MPs and increase the number of Ministers and nominated MPs and Councillors. But sometimes, a single incident, can suggest that there is a very different ‘something’ which is really at the heart of the BDP’s problems.

Last week, the Oodi Sub Land Board was engulfed by a horde of people seeking help and advice, people trying to register their plots, people trying to get their complaint on record, people furious that their records had been ‘lost’ people, angry at yet more delay.

And others confused as to which queue to join and to understand why, having begun the day at the front of a queue they were obliged to end up at its back.

Tension amongst these many confused, anxious, frustrated, even desperate people was already high when in walked a BDP Councillor who, without hesitation, went straight to the front of the queue.

And, there, being so well known, was duly assisted by the Land Board staff.

Those in the queue who came from further afield and did not recognise this august individual, hissed, booed and shouted at him.

The locals, who were perhaps aware of the day-to-day realities, kept quiet. How many other elected or nominated MPs and Councillors does the BDP possess who also make it a habit of pushing their way to the front of a queue of people who may have waited there for a long time?

People of this kind do the party no kind of a service. They demonstrate that they are the masters and not the servants of the people who elected them.

And because such people are unwilling to share the frustrations experienced by others, they are unable to represent them as they should be represented.

 The BDP’s problem as it well knows but obviously cannot fully grasp, is that so many years in power has bred in its ranks a conviction that many of its party representatives are a power elite which owes nothing to those who elected them.

If the BDP is unable to accept this simple political reality, it is improbable that Margaret Nasha will wait long until she starts making it known  to them.

Etcetera II



A weak Botswana Media

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