What made 2019 so awful? The list is endless but for all its worth, the utter depravity of our national political discourse tops the charts.
The only positive from 2019 is that it got the country out of 2018. It will be difficult to point to one thing that epitomizes 2019 but suggesting a new nationalism will not be far off.
The nation spent 2018 obsessing over the aftermath of the transition of power and the simmering tensions between predecessor and successor. The fracas shaped day after soul crushing day of the latter part of 2018. When everyone thought the end was nigh, entered Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi – and all of sudden a constitutional electoral provision within the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) was escalated to a national problem.
When 2019 finally dawned, society was desperately hoping for change, a shift away from the turmoil of 2018.
It was a new year, a chance for the nation to break out of the pointless barrage of accusations, to move past the vicious hate filled hyper partisan spew of name calling and petty point scoring, to end the endless cycle of media hysteria and to begin to tackle the many critical issues facing the nation.
In earnest, the tone for 2019 was set towards the end of December 2018 when President Mokgweetsi Masisi fired Venson-Moitoi for daring to challenge him. In that single moment, the nation was doomed to hopelessness and despair. Anyone who thought President Ian Khama’s 10 years were nothing but slavery ought to prepare for a different set of shackles.
Admittedl,y the cat-fight between Khama and Masisi was an easy call and any forecast proved correct. The ugliness of the battle took full frontal battle at the fortified BDP Retreat held in Palapye in February 2019. The daggers were out. Saliently behind the scenes was the orchestration of a sketch in pursuit of victimhood.
The CAVA faction encamped around Masisi and suddenly BDP problems were escalated to the nation. Venson-Moitoi’s challenge was dispatched under dubious circumstances with the BDP making it nearly impossible for her to partake in the presidential race. Time has its way of exonerating people.
In the just ended elections a Khama backed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) won all the three Serowe seats. The opposition for the first time won handsomely in the Central Region bagging constituencies constituting the Central, BOMASE, Letswapo and SHOMA regions. Given this outcome, is it far-fetched to suggest that in an unrestrained environment, Venson-Moitoi should have received nominations from a minimum of these four regions?
It was in order for the BDP to stop Venson-Moitoi. With the advent of tightly contested elections in the horizon, the BDP could not afford to limp to the general elections with a leader whose popularity was questionable owing to a poor showing at an internal contest. In a fair setting, it was still unfathomable for Masisi to lose. However, his backers were not prepared to lose a popularity contest.
Following a series of tribulations Venson-Moitoi threw in the towel at the last minute leaving the contest to endorse Masisi. Even with her withdrawal, the BDP nearly ran a mock election to properly cement Masisi’s supposedly
The politics of 2019 cannot be complete without the mention of one name - Peter Magosi.
The henchman is a malignant soul. At best the henchman can be described as unstable and unhinged from reality. The early signs of Magosi’s attempt to ditch the public servant attire and delve into politics was underestimated.
By year end, Magosi was as much a player, referee and commissioner in the dirt of politics. Besides doubling as bodyguard, the henchman birthed a silly narrative of President’s Masisi’s life being in some danger only known to him. The ‘me against the world’ attempt saw him push the nation to boundaries never before seen.
In hindsight, this strategy worked wonders and the October general elections became about saving Masisi – who in turn was doing everything to save Botswana. What the country is being saved from is not clear. By some mystery, there are mystery shoppers who either threatened to buy the country, or could be beneficiaries of the country being sold to them.
Who between Khama and Masisi defaults to victimhood is yours to judge? What however is clear is that the new agenda – a new sense of nationalism will continue into 2020. At some point in 2019, some normal Batswana simply stopped paying attention to current events. Sects of print media auctioned themselves to state organs. Headlines about what the country is grappling with were suddenly replaced by the stormy headlines of the multiple battles that Masisi was involved in.
Once again we are on the cusp of a new year, another chance for positive change. And once again we find ourselves feeling stirrings of hope – hope that 2020 will be better unshackled from a political discourse that is characterised by fighting. Despite the disappointment of 2019, we do believe things can improve. Who do we feel this way? Because we are gullible.
The storms of the past week are gone and soon the drought will be back. In 1975 members of the band Lovers from Pietermaritzburg merged with Planets from Klerksdorp to form the Young Five.
They were Samuel Moatshe, Raletebele Mathews Khaile, Johnny Wanyane, Selby Kometsi and Woodthorpe Motlhaloga. In 1983 they backed William Mthethwa as William Mthethwa and the Young Five. RB1 and lately some of the private radio stations will be belting 1983 hit single Celebration, our Christmas soundtrack ever since.
Torrents of Facebook posts, tweets, press conferences and bluster have come from this government.
Besides imminent danger that the President faces is a threat to spill beans. While Christmas is synonymous with celebration, we are fast becoming accustomed to a soundtrack of grievances than guidance given the myriad of challenges, including imminent recession.
The state will repeat the same 2019 soundtrack of a victimhood.
So, there is little to get excited about 2020. Our emotional state going forward should be hopelessness, as we can see when we look back at the grotesque that was 2019 with…