PALAPYE: At best, the BPF continues to be perceived to present itself as a party of people who are bitter and unforgiving. They are refusing to forgive and forget about their opponents.
The party so far has offered nothing as alternative policies except as demonstrated by its inaugural patron, former president Ian Khama who has deliberately chosen to pursue politics of mudslinging and character assassination.
In an election year, people look at the parties’ offerings and make their own choices based on what they perceive to be suitable to their interests.
So far, the BPF has chosen to leave everything upon Khama who unfortunately is seemingly hell-bent on taking head leaders of his former party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) head on instead of feeding multitudes that follow his party, with the BPF’s offerings.
Khama is apparently everything to the BPF to the extent that there is no one controlling the content of his addresses. He speaks as he pleases, as he dishes out distasteful content. From his initial meetings in Serowe, Kanye, Palapye, Rakops, Tswapong and other places, the former president has chosen to spew diatribe and throw barbed wires aimed at incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his administration including the BDP and its entire leadership.
At a massive rally in Palapye last weekend where the party was blessed with multitudes from across the country, the BPF patron could not take advantage of the numbers his party attracted to put the promises of the new movement forth with only a month to go before the general election. Khama’s fight with the Masisi administration is a long told one-sided story and does no longer appeal as people look forward to what the BPF can do to improve their lives.
Their concerns are that the ruling party has failed them. In other words, people are really concerned with bread and butter issues than diatribe.
Since he joined the opposition ranks, Khama’s duty has become opposing all the policies of the BDP to the extent that everything has festered to hatred level. Khama continues to perform with aplomb in terms of attracting the masses, but his failure to feed the multitudes with the BPF philosophy and political beliefs might raise doubts about what the BPF has in store for the people.
By any standards, Khama’s presence at the BPF has been a blessing, as the charismatic leader has become the glue that puts the party together. The only undoing factor for the former president is bitterness and hatred of his opponents that might not sit well with some people.
For the first time Khama told a rally that if his party wins the coming elections in its anticipated alliance with the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), he threatened to prosecute Masisi and his allies for what he called involvement in acts of corruption.
The new government of the UDC/BPF would institute a commission of inquiry into the awarding of major tenders for works, which have left some people raking in millions of pula unfairly.
“Once we take over power we will make these people account and of course without abusing them,” he had promised. Without any explanation, Khama told the rally that the BDP, which was founded amongst others by his late father, has become undemocratic unlike it used to be indicating that the party has chosen to trample upon democracy. Ironically, opposition parties accused Khama of possession of undemocratic tendencies. The collapse of democracy during his tenure was squarely blamed upon him.
Khama’s hatred for Masisi personally came to the fore when he told the rally how much he loved Palapye
His audience was left wondering how far his hatred for Masisi would go when he called on people not to vote for the MP and the BDP just because in the outskirts of Palapye, Goya and Masisi appear on a campaign billboard for the 2019 general election.
Khama buttressed his point to the masses: “You need to go and apologise to Goya that it’s unfortunate that you will not vote for him. Please spread the message. He is a nice person, but unfortunately he is in the wrong company.”
Equally, BPF president Biggie Butale has since quitting the BDP been on the warpath displaying his hatred for Masisi and the BDP.
His failure to present his party’s policy and ideological framework which are unknown to the voting public is legendary as articulated by University of Botswana (UB) senior lecturer in politics, Dr Kebapetse Lotshwao in a recent interview.
Lotshwao explained that a political party is formed primarily for purposes of competing for state power. Such a party should advance its clear policies, clear ideological positions and following across the country. The party, according to the UB academic should have a position on national issues, development and governance. “The voting public would want to know how the party is going to rule. The BPF was not formed for the principles of competing for power. Its founders had issues with the ruling party and wanted to forge talks with the BDP and get something from the ruling party.”Lotshwao has a view that frustrated that he was stripped of some of his privileges as a former State president, Khama wanted to negotiate to enjoy the privileges he lost. The current administration said it found that they were not in line with the public interest but Khama’s.
“Khama was stopped from accessing the army equipment through regulation and really it boggles the mind for Khama to behave as if there is no law governing access to the army equipment by former head of state,” observed Lotshwao.
He indicated that unfortunately Khama got hurt, as he likes power and the privileges that it comes with. Lotshwao stressed that Khama continues to attack the BDP government simply out of frustration that he can’t control the current regime something that he thought would be possible, to the extent that he motivated the formation of a new party for which he is a founding patron.
With the current direction of the BPF, Lotshwao is insistent that the BPF doesn’t have the wherewithal to dethrone the BDP from power.
Another political scientist, Leonard Sesa who is also a lecturer at the UB said what is more worrying for the BPF is that it does not have explicit values and an ideology it stands for.
“Political parties are formed as a consequence of a certain ideology. With the case of the BPF, the party seems to be solely focussing on removing the BDP from power,” he explained sharing similar sentiments with Lotshwao. “One would have thought that the party would have used its elective meeting and massive rally in Palapye to articulate its values and ideology. The party should also have laid down its plans post the general elections. It will not be easy for the party to continue existing without a well defined ideology,” he added.