One of the greatest songs of our time, The Storm is Over by Robert Kelly is most applicable at this time when we have just come out of a national election.
The candidates were wishing the day could hasten because of their levels of fatigue, as well as anticipation. For the electorates, it was a matter of being intimidated and taunted by the blurring noises from the loud speakers of all kinds of aspiring politicians. I want to believe it is high time Parliament passes a law to out-law political noise beyond 9pm and before 6am. The different councils could coin some by-law that regulates the use of public address systems beyond and before these hours. This is a time when most of the people settle to sleep and students get down to working on that assignment that is due the next morning. And every political party is guilty of this offence.
This week I would like to delve deep into analysing the results of the just completed General Election. It is indeed true that voters can be very unpredictable. We have seen that in the Lobatse constituency where Nehemiah Modubule lost to a greenhorn in politics while he had the advantage of incumbency. Not only that, Modubule had won this constituency in the previous election as Mokoko (independent). He had just been expelled by his own party in one of the most trivial ways. One of the BNF candidates who received a boot on the eleventh hour was Robert Molefhabangwe, (go lo a go letseng – politically speaking) and also went on to run as Mokoko and lost dismally.
It was at this stage that that the voters, out of frustration with the main opposition party, opted to vote for the BCP in 2009. They increased their representation in Parliament to five MPs from a paltry one scored in the 2004 elections. It was from this point that the BCP held itself in high regard and started referring to itself as the fastest growing political party in Botswana. It was true that they were the fastest growing political party but they had failed to read into all the existing variables at the time. These variables, some of which I have discussed in my column two weeks ago, continued to unravel themselves right into the past national election.
The relationship between the BCP and its parent party, the BNF, has always been rocky from the very moment the former was registered as a political party. The rivalry of the two parties has in the past expressed itself in the worst ways one could ever imagine. And this happened right in Parliament. One of the BCP’s unpardonable sins was when they reneged on a power sharing agreement of the position of the leader of opposition.
The breaking up of Botswana National Front which resulted in the formation of Botswana Congress Party was exactly what the Botswana Democratic Party was hoping and praying for and as well as using other underhand tactics to achieve this result. It was very probable that governance would have fallen in the hands of the opposition in 1999 if it had not been for the split by BCP. In other words, the formation of the BCP cost the opposition government in a literal sense.
In the same manner, in this year’s election, the BCP repeated the same misdeeds of 1999. This year was an election year in which the opposition was closest to achieving the taking over of government. Once again, the BCP came to the rescue of the BDP at the hour of need by refusing to participate in the opposition coalition. All conditions for a change of government were ripe. The growing discontent of the civil service over salary increases and lack of delivery in most areas of
The BCP still went ahead to contest the elections solo, and in the process disregarding the prevailing public opinion which rated the Umbrella coalition in high esteem. The Umbrella for Democratic Change went on to win seventeen seats out of the fifty seven and the BCP ended up scoring a paltry three, which is more than a 50% reduction from the previous polls because they had won a Francistown by-election in the interim and benefited from a defection of one MP.
When taking an analytical view of the election results, it shows that mathematically, the opposition could have won thirty-nine of the fifty-seven constituencies that were up for grabs. This would have exceeded the mark for a government takeover by ten constituencies. The BCP has not only cost the opposition government but it has also assisted the BDP in achieving the current results. So, the BDP owes BCP great gratitude for helping it to continue in power. For these efforts, Khama should have considered Dumelang Saleshando for a position of specially elected Member of Parliament. This would have been a good gesture of gratitude because if it had not been for the BCP, BDP would by now be an official opposition party in parliament. It would be very interesting to know whom they would have nominated for leader of opposition. Dumelang Saleshando is a key cornerstone in the very foundations of the BCP and has been instrumental in the genesis of this party. In this regard, he has been to the rescue of BDP twice-both in 1999 and recently in 2014. But as some political observers and voters have put it, it will be never again.
On an equal note, the BNF has to thank BMD for their current marriage (and of course with BPP). BMD has been one of the factors that have helped in the image improvement of the BNF. In 2009 the BNF was a party in tartars going forth and back from the courts of law to settle scores between comrades. One of the biggest mistakes in the history of this party was the election of Otsweletse Moupo as its president. He went on to achieve one thing; which is to erase the gains the party had seen in its many decades of existence. But remember, Moupo did not lead alone.
The advent of a new youthful charming leader in Duma Boko and the BMD marriage has helped the party to regain its glory and return to its rightful place in the political landscape of Botswana. Boko is a vibrant leader and though not as charismatic as some of us would like him to be, has literally done a facelift on BNF. The party’s image is no longer what it used to be five years ago. The fractured image of the party has been restored and people of this country, once again, have shown confidence in the party as per the results of the General Elections of 2014. There are two prevailing schools of thought here: Some think Batswana have punished BCP, while others hold the view that the BCP has achieved its goals of keeping BDP in power for another term of five years.
*Richard Moleofe is a Retired Military Officer