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The mounting casualty list of prisoners of conscious

A cabal proficient in witch-hunting is busy mob-lynching fellow democrats with the assistance of the Kangaroo Court that is the National Disciplinary Committee of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Treacherous lies have seen several office bearers ousted from Cabinet and some suspended or expelled from the party.

The BDP has lost its tolerant and compassionate soul and nothing will stop it from swallowing its conscientious members, either through the Kangaroo Court or boisterous temperament.

Honourable Patrick Ralotsia is the latest conscientious casualty. Ralotsia triumphed in Kanye North against enormous odds in the 2014 general elections owing to his personal aura and likeability. He would go on to serve as Minister of Agriculture, a respectable office befitting the master sower of seed he is. Ralotsia’s sobriety in adversity is unparalleled. Throughout the tensions between predecessor and successor, Ralotsia has consistently been that voice that called for peaceful resolution and reversion to normalcy.

In August 2018, two long-serving staff members in Maemo Modisaotsile and One Montshiwa were suspended. The duo was also tainted by the postponement of Bulela Ditswe.  At the mass gathering that would follow in Palapye, most would not have been at fault to believe that the two were guilty of a treacherous offence and indeed the reason why the primary elections were postponed. Up to now, no charges have been brought against the alleged external forces that hacked the BDP voting system and the matter has died a silent death.

Modisaotsile and Montshiwa were persecuted for being prudent and in the process averting blatant cheating. Their crime was to object to the illicit removal of 300 names from the voter’s roll. After several failed attempts to force an outcome they were dismissed arbitrarily in the absence of the iskenderun escort complainant and despite evidence to suggest that at no point did they tamper with the voter’s roll. The poor kids have paid heavily for the inefficiencies of their leaders.

Honourable Biggie Butale’s ouster was expected following a decision layered with political witchcraft to charge the legislator on frivolous indictments.  A village proxy acting on behalf of superpowers trumped up some laughable charges and Butale was suspended for six months. The Kangaroo Court has in recent months used flimsy grounds that a party in government shouldn’t find itself entertaining to find adversely against members.

High level purges were relatively a rarity until the recent onslaught. Along with the suspension of Honourable Prince Maele, the cannibalisation brings back memories of an earlier era: the years of 2009 and 2010. In sheer coincidence, the beginning of President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s era is an exact replica of 10 years ago if not worst?

Utterances by President Masisi when in Sefhare have shattered any assumption that the instructions might not come from the First Office. At the Letswapo Regional Congress the President did acknowledge that there were MPs and Ministers that did not support him. The President promised to deal with them after Kang. What could be a better signal for Masisi’s purge?

Most democrats and citizens do not want to see a converse connection between the persecution of these prisoners of conscious and the credibility of the decision-makers within the BDP echelons. On the contrary, people seem to identify with the false narrative that the establishment is finally tackling corruption – something which is a blatant lie.

Selective repression has become harsher as if to warn office bearers that remaining malleable to appointer is the best way to keeping them on their toes. Moreover, Masisi’s underlings must understand that dismissal, far from being the end of an unpleasant episode, may turn out to be just the start of something worse – unpleasant encounters with the state machinery.

The BDP is unrecognisable, its ideal dead and

buried. The democratic values that have shaped the institution that Sir Ketumile Masire and Daniel Kwelagobe led as Secretary Generals has cast aside its Constitution. The Central Committee has been beating branches into submission to call for the postponement of the elections at the National Congress. This is a continuation of unconstitutional extension of term limits as exercised undemocratically by the Youth and the Women’s Wings.

Dictatorships are often unexpected. They rise inconspicuously even among the prosperous, educated and cultured societies who seemed safe from a dictatorship. Batswana are especially distinguished for their achievements in stable democratic institutions hinged on embracing divergent views. The BDP repeatedly quotes, ‘mafoko a kgotla a mantle otlhe’  yet the reality is frighteningly opposed to democracy.

Today’s BDP dedicates itself to a hatred of truth and democracy. It cannot be that the fault lies with one man. The scrutiny needs to extend to the men and women around the President both in party and in government. It is this crowd that has led to destabilising the BDP and almost making government a punitive mechanism to punish non-conformists and non-bootlickers. The agents of self-created insider threats propagate conspiratorial plots against those with a conscious to speak out in the process generating paranoia.

Autocratic leaders develop broad and evolving range of tactics and tools to diminish both internal and external threats to their reign. The BDP Communications Committee and the Strategy Team seemingly work in tandem with mass media to control and shape information emitted by the regime before it reaches the public. Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) is also a default mechanism to insulate the current regime from forces that might democratically challenge the establishment. It defies logic that in a country so vast, only Honourable Guma Moyo, Honourable Duma Boko and former spy chief Isaac Kgosi are the only alleged tax defaulters in the country.

It is also common knowledge that dictators construe political criticism as crimes, even where crimes do not exist. Before the departure of Councillor Vuyo Yane, the Kangaroo Court had dispelled with about eight of the youth brigade. This list included Councillor Ketshogile of Lerala East, Thabo Autlwetse, Bruce Nkgakile and Peter Mazebedi.

Just like the parliamentarians, this lot was charged with imaginary crimes. Compare all these prisoners of conscious with Honourable Sadique Kebonang. In a sworn statement, Kebonang stated that he had been a conduit to assist some opposition activists. He was never charged.

As all this happens, the party has ignored new alliances forming amongst once-fragmented opposition groups and the possibility of sustained and popular revolution.

On the upside, it could be that it is beneficial to have new representatives as it appears to be a preferential position for the leadership of the party. Most candidates are aged between 40 and 50 and unconnected to past elites. Perhaps there is room after all for these to be driven to meet their targets whilst having no ambition to tackle political issues. The newcomers are already scared by the purges and will not undertake anything without the approval of the leadership. And that will put any genuine developmental agenda on hold.

As the election day draws nearer, it will be prudent for the BDP to revise the exuberance of the Kangaroo Court and pursue a visible exercise to unite the party. The senseless casualty count is unnecessarily long. Departed actress and songstress Doris Day once conveyed a fatalistic recognition that somtimes future events are out of a speaker’s control when she sang, “Que sera sera. Whatever will be will be!”

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