It always surprises me when politicians get surprised when opponents use state machinery to rattle them. Rulers, in Africa especially, are notorious of using security organs to silence opponents.
If you follow politics, you would not be surprised by what has been happening in Botswana lately. It’s called politics, as prescribed in the famous political manual, The Art of War.
It therefore surprised me that when the opposition leader, Advocate Duma Boko was raided by officers from the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) for alleged tax evasion, there was an outcry. In the eyes of activists of the opposition coalition of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), President Mokgweetsi Masisi was dealing Boko a bad hand. People were shocked. Why? That’s politics. In election year, nothing is surprising.
Rulers use every opportunity and weapon, in some African countries, even with the gun, to weaken the opponent. I would not be surprised to see Boko facing even worse charges, real or trumped up. It is called politics, and the game is dirty; even though our living father of opposition politics, Rre Michael Dingake would argue that politics is not dirty but politicians are.
I agree, politicians have littered the field and if you play it, do it knowing the pitfalls.
Back to Boko. The fact that BURS officers raided his house in Tlokweng just hours before the Minister of Finance, Kenneth Matambo, delivered the Budget Speech on Monday, was indeed a sure sign that Masisi’s administration is in a mean mood. If the intention was to unsettle Boko, they achieved that, albeit temporarily, as a day later he delivered, what I believe was the best response to the Budget speech.
His BURS operation, could be argued that Masisi was taking on his real opponent, using the instruments of the law. By all accounts, the UDC is his biggest threat, and if indeed Boko is owing the taxes, then a good opportunity availed itself. And opportunism is what politics is all about. You use everything to hit, hard, especially the opponent’s weak point.
Politics is not the church, where if a leader falls, we rise to pray for them, seek forgiveness, on their behalf and move on. In politics, the counselling and “forgiveness” is temporary. Once the “sinner” become a threat to the one on the throne, within and without, skeletons fall and the full might of the law comes for them. In Botswana of late, two instruments of the law are proving useful against opponents, within and without. Once BURS and DCEC officers come bearing a court order, at most times signed by a magistrate outside working hours, the recipient is in for a rough ride. It could even spell the end, politically. This is a fear the opposition block should be having. Unless of course, Boko uses this
Infact BURS and DCEC are proving most powerful in dealing with the most powerful in our society. Batswana seem to trust them more than the security organs such at the Botswana Police Service (BPS) and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS).
The latter especially, as since formation 10 years ago had been seen as nothing by a notorious weapon used by and only for the Ian Khama family and friends against anyone seen as a political and business foe. While Masisi was hailed a hero when he fired the feared DIS boss, Isaac Kgosi and replaced him with Peter Fana Magosi, and the DIS was seen as cleansing itself of that negative image, doubts are seemingly rising. The recent arrest of former spy chief, and raids on his properties and that of the main accused in the National Petroleum Fund fraud, Bakang Seretse, while generally welcomed, has some questioning the timing and link. Kgosi is Khama man, a very close friend, with many believing that investigations on him are just an opening, a route really, to his master’s house. Seretse is not just within that Khama circle, he is a close relative. Many within that circle, of the opposition within the ruling party, are sitting ducks. Unless of course, Khama and company back off, and Masisi is assured of BDP victory in the October general elections. Only then, will the block that is supporting Mme Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi survive the onslaught.
Is it right that the powers that be tend to use state apparatus to bring down and silence opponents? Of course not. Our taxes, our institutions, should not be used to fight political battles. BURS, DCEC, BPS, DIS and all other government departments are paid for and are for the nation. Political score settling should be done at freedom squares, and party offices. But who really believes that?
Yes, we want our leaders to be exemplary and if they owe tax, and swindle us small people who pay through our noses, of our taxes, then the long arm of the law should catch them. They should pay. All of them, including big financiers of political parties. BURS should not just go for Kgosi, Seretse, and their recent public defender, Boko. We should see the real white collar criminals go down.