It never rains but pours in the opposition. Another party is in the offing, painting the political landscape with all the colours of the rainbow. Before long, we might move to non-traditional colors. Batswana have yet another suitor; Alliance for Progressives (AP). It was self-evident, from the Matshekge bloodbath, if not before, that the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) impasse was beyond redemption.
If the noisome and rancorous social media is anything to go by, Sidney Pilane now presides over an empty legal shell. I do not know if that is true. What is fairly obvious though, is that Ndaba Gaolathe is hugely popular both within and outside the BMD. True, Pilane has a reputation for legal prowess.
Whether he is popular in the political sense is gravely doubtable. The Progressives seem sure about their popular strength, hence the audacious move to call for a re-run and failing such, to form a new party. The end game, as regards the new party is, however, still nebulous. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) was borne of an acknowledgement that the ruling party was too strong for any singular opposition party to master. It could be that the Progressives believe they can go it alone against the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) juggernaut. It could also be that they are aware of the futility of a duel with the BDP but merely want to consolidate their base before it disintegrates. It could further be that they want to reinvent themselves as a new opposition force, to bury doubts about the numerical destitution of their adversaries, to render them irrelevant to opposition politics and to seek umbrella reentry on own terms. It could well be, again, that the Progressives fancy themselves eventually, as potential kingmakers in a political landscape dominated by the UDC and the ruling party. It could be all of the above and more. The answer lies in the womb of futurity.
When the UDC verdict came out, neither side could have been happier. A draw was nothing the respective sides desired. It had been obvious though, from the Umbrella leadership’s vacillation that they were caught between a rock and a hard place. The impasse presented several difficulties. They could have easily dismissed the Pilane camp had they been wrong on constitutional or procedural grounds. But Duma Boko had a need to project the image of a leader with integrity.
The impasse was not only a test as regards his problem solving capabilities but his personal integrity. The Pilane camp enjoyed the advantage of the legal high ground. Their weakness, if true, was the touted lack of a substantial
Which brings me to my point. Somehow, something had to give. The Progressives left, but why? Why build such a formidable brand and then walk away from it to start all over again under an outfit with an academic name? Why abandon the party of Gomolemo Motswaledi? It could not have been an easy choice.
It was about survival. Had the Progressives been confident about their legal stand, they would surely have challenged their adversaries judicially. But the camp was clearly aware that the legal route promised doom at best. Kindergarten mistakes were made early on which deprived them of a good fighting chance. They hardly had any case as regards the expulsions even if they had a case regarding how the Matshekge congress was conducted. Even if the Matshekge congress outcomes were successfully challenged, their leaders would have remained in the cold. The clock would simply have been wound back to the pre-Matshekge position, the same position they failed to deal with. Such an outcome would not have been acceptable unless accompanied by blanket amnesty.