Secrecy puts country at risk

Our nation’s politics have taken a rather interesting dimension.

Frankly, the ruling party has its back on the ropes.

Success, in 2019 is no longer guaranteed. I do not say that the party will lose. In all probability, it will win. But the possibility of regime change has never been this real.

The ground for opposition success has never been this fertile; thanks in no small part to Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) internal factional fighting. New Jerusalem remain a potent voting block. As for where their votes will go, your guess is really as good as mine.

But then, I risk digressing.

Over the past two weekends, a billionaire bride was all over the news thanks to leaked tapes associating her with a BDP faction and suggesting that she has interest in BDP internal wars.

Now we learn that the wealthy lady has since been lifted amongst South Africans who must obtain visas before they come to Botswana, which is sad.

I do not agree that people should be put on visa restriction lists just because they are friends with people who are in the political enemy camp. We are supposed to be a model democracy, practising political fair play and  be tolerant. The decision to put the lady on the list must be condemned. It is a rather interesting development because not so long ago, the BDP were openly flirting with her family and there were reports even, that the husband - or was it the family - had pledged a sizable donation to the party.

Whatever it is that is in it for her, we probably will never know but clearly, she had taken a side. With all the money she has at her disposal, she was not going to be ignored.

Would she have been put on the list if she had taken the side of the ruling faction? Certainly not. She’d most likely have been feted and had a red carpet rolled for her all the way from the airport to the State House.  Let us not go back to where we have been.

The answer to Bridget Motsepe Radebe was somewhat interesting. Not only was a travel ban imposed, but a Zimbabwean billionaire was promptly summoned to Gaborone to flight his dollars under the guise of a town hall, youth empowerment seminar.

The Zimbabwean man, not unlike the rest of the BDP rich, is a tenderpreneur.  He made his fortunes in Botswana, in the telecommunications industry. We are aware that foreign diamond magnates in Botswana’s mining sector have taken interest in Botswana politics.

We have had a situation where one group sponsored a president out of power. They are not on any visa restrictions list.  All the people, previously put on that infamous list of political intolerance must be taken out. That includes Julius Malema, Radebe as well as Duma Boko’s Hollywood friend.

My point is that both factions of the BDP are now flirting with foreign billionaires. But that’s not the end of the story. The Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) has caught the bug.  They are on high octane with a miracle jet and a helicopter crisscrossing the country to the amusement of the young and old alike. The Xhosa boy from Mahalapye is determined to seize State power and he seems to have secured the right funding for his campaign, which is okay.

We can all agree that those birds do not come cheap. We know the Botswana National Front (BNF), like other opposition parties, is broke. The UDC hardly has any known asset base. The dear leader has no known income sources capable of sustaining such expenditure. Clearly, some big money is rolling in from elsewhere. Some UDC followers say that in as much as it has never been the business of the public to know where BDP funding comes from, it is not the business of the same to know where their funding comes from.

I wish they could model the transparency that they have overtime asked for and been denied by the BDP but then, I guess there is some ring of truth to what they are saying. We never pressed the BDP for disclosure. Why should we press them?

I guess we can all agree that it is important for political parties to be well funded in order that our democracy may not be the one-horse race it has been for 50 years. In fact, I think it is a welcome development that the UDC are capable of launching a ground and air offensive until now the exclusive privilege of the BDP.

The wanton abuse of State resources by the BDP to shore up its political fortunes needed to be counterbalanced and the playing field levelled.

But then, the million dollar question remains. Who are the funders of all the different groups? We see billionaires lurking but are they the funders? What really, is in it for them? I made a point not so long ago, that there is need for laws on political funding. I repeat it today. It would be remiss as a people to assume that people can throw millions at political campaigns in which they have no interests. There is no famine here.

This is and cannot be a case of philanthropy. Capitalists generally put their money where their mouths are. So long as everything is shrouded in secrecy, the country is at great risk.

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