It must be hot, up there, in the Presidential seat. The country has never been so polarised. The genesis of it all is not hard to fathom. It all began with His Excellency peddling falsehoods.
What compounds an already dire situation is that those around His Excellency have little, if any gravitas. Many that I have met say, “it’s ok to ask Masisi to step down but who replaces him?” Cabinet has the same problem that His Excellency has. It’s largely deficient of credibility.
Now, the clergy have joined the battle cry. The cup of public discontent is overflowing. Botswana clergy are traditionally politically docile and mumb. Until recently they were happy blessing the leaders and praying for rain. No more. A cleric has come out to say that the President must resign. He cites government’s indifference to public plight and a host of other failures. Government locked him up for a night. But they only made him an overnight hero.
It’s fair to ask how we got here. But, that is the easiest part of the enquiry. The real question is as to where we are going from here. Can we see the glory days of national unity where Presidents and Cabinet members were held in high regard by a nation that felt safe under them? Can we go back to the times of Rre Kedikilwe, Rre Magang, Rre Merafe, Mma Venson-Moitoi and others who simply inspired hope and confidence? You didn’t have to love them. You could differ with them all day, but they had substance. For that, they inspired confidence. Can the nation look beyond the now, and believe that if the ruling party was to rule beyond 2024, the welfare of Batswana would be safe in hands? Frankly, I do not see the ruling party winning the 2024 elections, short of a complete makeover and an emphatic delivery of vaccines and jobs. The tell tale signs are there.
The Central District that has sustained the party for so long is gone. During the last election, the South voted overwhelmingly against the perceived shenanigans of a northern prince. The South used to be an opposition regional stronghold. The speed with which it moved to defend democracy against the perceived mechinations of a prince must teach President Masisi something. He may just as well get to 2024, look behind him and realise that it has voted to protect the country against him. His was a sympathy vote. He may have to deal with votes cast in anger. Many Batswana are filled with regret and impatience. Many wish to speed up 2024 in order that they may correct their “error” of 2019. It’s not looking good for the BDP. Many would vote for anything to replace the current government.
His Excellency must attend to at least three things or he will be the country’s first one-term President. Worse, he will be the President who handed government to the opposition after more than half a century of rule. The UDC will be stronger in 2024. It will be the beneficiary of a massive protest and anger vote.
Rhetoric and glorying in past achievements ring hollow to the widening voting base of angry adults, youth, and millenials who wonder what the future holds for them under an increasingly faultering President.
Firstly, President Masisi must stop the looting that is happening in his government. I am not talking about public service corruption. I am talking about building himself a Disneyland in the Okavango in the middle of a pandemic when people are despondent and jobless. I am talking about his land grabbing, as in the case of Banyana Farms and his cynical and traitous bromance with non-indigenous citizens at the expense of Batswana baSekei. He must demonstrate visibly that the indigenous citizen is first on the agenda. Nothing short of that will do.
Secondly, the man must deliver jobs.
That’s the only campaign message he can have in 2024. As it is, he is gravely deficient of credibility and hardly anyone would take him seriously trying to sell another party manifesto. In the art of pursuasion, credibility is everything. His Cabinet doesn’t have it, either. Only delivery can speak for him and his party. He must tell the country how many jobs he would have created by 2024. And he must deliver same. Its that simple.
Further, he must deliver the vaccines. I have no doubt this part will be done in time. The people don’t doubt that government has “secured” vaccines, whatever that means. But securing vaccines and vaccinating people are two different things. Thousands have died while government was preaching that it has “secured” vaccines. To think Batswana could ever be refugees or any description would have been farfetched, any day. But it is true. Many Batswana are de facto vaccine refugees. South Africa is doing our government’s job while our Cabinet perennially talks about having “secured” vaccines. And many are dying. Orphans, widows, and widowers are made by the dozen. This will be remembered come 2024. The spirits of the thousand dead who perished because the government failed to provide them with life saving oxygen will come back to exact revenge.
Presidential advisors are generally blamed for their master’s mistakes. It was so with all our former presidents. It was so with even Robert Mugabe. Ours is an aberration.
The blame is concentrated more on the President with the lieutenants whimsically dismissed as clowns and sycophants.
The question is: is the President capable of reversing the pervasive negative national mood and restoring faith in his government? I really don’t know. At the rate we are going, that is doubtable. What I am certain of though, is that the future is not bright for President Masisi. In fact, the future is not bright for the BDP. A Duma Boko presidency is very likely in 2024.
At the rate we are going, Indian and Chinese money may not be able to stop a change of government. That is, if we get there. Even then that’s doubtable. Our government looks set to implode. The gales that fanned the Arab Spring seem to have moved south. Botswana is on the brink of regime change.