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In defence of the BNF left – Reply to Cde Boko (Part 2)

Under the microscope: Boko’s leadership is being questioned by the party’s veterans PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
As a result of his cavalier attitude to party work, the Central Committee met only twice during 2019, the election year.

It is thus not accidental that Party structures throughout the country collapsed.

Those constituency committees hurriedly set up on the eve of the election were not well consolidated and were hardly in a position to carry out any effective election campaign.

He claims to be excellent in fund-raising for the Movement and yet has never once accounted to either the Botswana National Front (BNF) or Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leadership structure for any funds allegedly raised by him for the Movement.

Indeed some UDC candidates were struggling to fund their campaign during the election notwithstanding the millions of pula that the UDC allegedly had access to and promises that each constituency would be funded to the tune of P50,000.

In early 2018, in blatant violation of the BNF constitution which gives the party secretary general the power to communicate (on behalf of the Central Committee) with Party structures, Boko directly communicated with regional structures urging them not to bother with raising any funds for transportation and feeding of delegates at the annual conference, as he would personally fund the conference.

But at the time of the conference there were only about six buses to ferry delegates from various constituencies to the conference. Some constituencies had to make last minute arrangements to transport their delegates to the conference in Rakops. As a result the conference was only able to start on Sunday evening on account of deliberate disorganisation and confusion caused by the party leader.

The BNF has always been run on a democratic basis, not only by giving members the right to freely discuss party issues, but by ensuring their collective input in every major tactical decision adopted by the Movement. Before the 1994 elections the then BNF leader Comrade Koma strongly felt that the BNF should boycott the coming elections on account of the undemocratic manner in which the elections were organised. But being acutely aware that such a measure would represent a major tactical shift, he initiated a major debate within the Party. After a thorough discussion in Party structures, the BNF decided to participate in elections, clearly against the wish of its revered leader.

In a major departure from this democratic tradition, in early 2019 Boko unilaterally decided, without any discussion with Party structures to have some working relations with Khama, an unpopular and authoritarian leader who had presided over Botswana’s precipitous regression in all governance indices and growing incidence of corruption in the public service, naively believing that this would assist the UDC in winning the elections.

By this unprincipled move he was not only desecrating the traditions of the UDC, which was conceived, formed and constituted on the anti-Khama platform, but pitting the UDC against the views and moods of the masses who felt that Masisi was being unfairly attacked by a former President seemingly bent on perpetuating his influence even after retirement.

It was thus not fortuitous that the general elections became a popular referendum on the unholy UDC/BPF alliance, which the masses overwhelmingly rejected. Boko’s flirtation with Khama was the single most important factor, which contributed to the UDC’s disastrous electoral performance in the South of the country.

Had it not been for this grave tactical blunder and Boko’s generally poor leadership, the UDC would have successfully defended some of its constituencies notwithstanding whatever rigging the BDP may have committed. But even after the UDC’s dismal electoral performance, Boko continued to conduct himself in scandalously irresponsible and autocratic fashion.

Instead of convening the BNF and UDC leadership structures to carry out an evaluation of the Movements electoral performance, he contented himself with peddling the narrative that that UDC’s electoral setback was solely attributable to BDP’s rigging of elections, which narrative he was unwilling to subject to thorough political scrutiny and analysis by the Movement. He proceeded to lodge court elections petitions without the sanction of either the BNF or UDC leadership structures – an unpardonable act of disloyalty to the Movement he leads.

Thus the BNF and UDC members and their leadership find themselves in an embarrassing situation in which they hear about the rigging of the elections in which they were the main contestants from the media. Yet even after the UDC’s election fiasco for which Boko was directly responsible, he has the audacity to accuse other members for plotting to oust him, when they express misgivings about the quality of his leadership.

Comrade Boko has embarrassed our Movement on other occasions when he not openly attacked our historic allies the African National Congress (ANC), but associated himself with extreme right-wing organisations such as the white supremacist Democratic Alliance of South Africa.

A particularly painful moment was at the UDC congress held in Gaborone in 2018 when the then DA leader Mmusi Maimane addressed UDC delegates some of whom were involved in ANC underground work during the dark days of the South African liberation struggle and declared that our problem (referring to the DA and its new found allies the UDC) is to free ourselves from the stranglehold of liberation Movements.

He (Maimane) then announced to the congress that the DA had invited Boko to its conference, and that he had accepted the invitation, which Boko confirmed. Our founding fathers some of who were themselves ANC members (such as Koma, D. K Ontumetse, Fish Keitseng) must have turned in their graves at this blatant betrayal of the ideals of their Movement.

It has become fashionable particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the other Eastern European Socialist regimes, for intellectual Lilliputians in various countries, some motivated by a desperate need to bolster their faltering academic or political careers to take turns in ‘demolishing’ Marx. Wretched literary crotchets in their vacuity and utter barrenness, these critical exercises can only inspire the interest and admiration of dilettantes and charlatans. They have neither occasioned the slightest dent on the theoretical foundations of Marxism, nor contributed even infinitesimally to the progress of social thought.

It is amazing that Boko who often parades himself as an erudite thinker associates himself with this vogue of an unscrupulous hatchet job. The idea of the universal succession of historical stages, conditioned by the ineluctable laws of history, which Boko attributes to Marx and then dismisses as a fallacy is in fact gross distortion and vulgarisation of Marxism.

Marx rigorously insisted that various modes of production such as feudalism and capitalism have their own particular laws. He specifically warned that his views on the origin of capitalism should not be transformed into a historic-philosophical theory of the general path of development prescribed by fate for all nations whatever the historical circumstances in which they found themselves (Marx and Engels – Selected Correspondence p292). Boko is simply knocking down self-constructed straws under the pretentious guise of undertaking a critique of Marx.

Equally laughable is his assertion that the Russian Revolution was a historical aberration. He merely echoes the ideas more ably articulated by the

Mensheviks and other right-wing socialists like Kautsky over a century ago, when then reproached Lenin and the Bolsheviks for deviating from Marxism by organising a socialist revolution in a relatively underdeveloped country such as Russia. In their argument they based themselves on Marx’s dictum in his preface to the first edition of the first volume of capital when he stated, “the advanced countries show the backward ones the image of their own future, thereby implying that the socialist revolution would first occur in the more advanced capitalist countries”.

We do not wish to enter into the thicket of the much involved theoretical debates which thereby ensued, as this would take us well beyond the scope of this article.

It suffices to point out that the fact the Russian revolution was deeply rooted in the explosive contradictions which convulsed not only Russian society but other major capitalist countries was demonstrated by the simultaneous revolutionary upheavals in Italy. Austro-Hungary, Germany. This revolution was subsequently replicated in other underdeveloped countries as China, Vietnam, Korea and Cuba. These historic developments were the most devastating indictment against the Mensheviks’ arguments. Boko’s assertion is therefore a shallow and theoretically untenable platitude long ago decisively laid to rest by revolutionary Marxism and the living experience of 20th century revolutions.

Boko sinks further into the morass of theoretical confusion and unadulterated drivel when he says that Marx’s prognoses were in the nature of prophecies.

Marx’s grandiose theoretical system was formulated on the basis of an exhaustive study of social science worked out through the intense intellectual labour undertaken by the most brilliant minds of mankind over centuries, further deepened and enriched through his (Marx) painstaking research on profuse empirical data.

The predictions, which he made were grounded on a granite foundation of comprehensive knowledge and scientific insights and not some purported prophecy or clairvoyance.

It is precisely for this reason that some of these insights remain as valid today as they were when they were first formulated 150 years ago. Such is for example his analysis of the dynamics and tendencies of capitalist development, that the capitalist economy is inherently prone to instability and periodic crisis on account of its anarchic and unplanned character at the macro level.

This has been empirically verified by the periodic overproduction crises, which have been endemic in the evolution of the world capitalist Economy in the past two centuries.

This is attested to by even by some of the contemporary bourgeois economists who would otherwise disagree with Marx’s revolutionary perspective.

In the aftermath of the world financial crises in an article published in the BBC news Magazine dated September 4, 2011 entitled, A Point of View: The revolution of capitalism, one of the prominent bourgeois Economists, author of many books on Mainstream Economics, John Gray said, “As a side-effect of the financial crisis, more and more people are starting to think that Karl Marx was right. The great 19th century philosopher, economist and revolutionary believed that capitalism was radically unstable. It had an inbuilt tendency to produce over larger booms and busts, and over the long term, it was bound to destroy itself”.

While denying that socialism is the logical alternative to decadent capitalism, Gray admits that Marx understood the workings of the capitalist economy far better than the bourgeoisie and its economic experts... “More profoundly, Marx understood how capitalism destroys its own social base – the middle class way of life…. When he argued that capitalism would plunge the middle classes into the precarious existence of the hard pressed workers of his time, Marx anticipated a change in the way we live that we are only now struggling to cope with”.

For his part George Magnus, a Senior Economist at one of the leading financial institutions in advanced capitalist countries the Swiss UBS Bank, wrote in an article entitled, “Give Karl Marx a chance to save the world Economy, praising Marx for his foresight. He starts by describing policy makers” struggling to understand the barrage of financial panics, protests and other ills afflicting the world, and suggest that they would do well to study the works of a long dead Economist Karl Marx”.

“… Consider for example Marx’s prediction of how the inherent conflict between capital and labour would manifest itself. As he wrote in Das Kapital, companies “pursuit of profits and productivity would naturally lead them to need fewer and fewer workers, creating an industrial reserve army of the poor and unemployed. Accumulation of wealth at one pole is therefore at the same time accumulation of misery”.

This theoretical disgression was meant to demonstrate the vitality and relevance of Marxist ideas for the present epoch and underscore the utter worthlessness of Boko’s anti-Marxist critical excursions. We say to him (with schiller). “What you are you must dare to appear”.

We challenge Boko to come out of the closet of hypocrisy and cowardice of launching a covert attack against the BNF’s progressive ideas and traditions through a circuitous route of ‘criticising’, Marx. It is Kenneth Koma, the BNF founder and ideologue who was the first to translate the universal language of Marxism into the vernacular of Botswana’s politics and thereby became immortalised in the annals of Botswana’s political History as the spiritual father of the BNF Left.

Boko should openly and unequivocally renounce Comrade Koma’s political heritage so that the reason why he seeks to tenaciously cling to the BNF leadership (notwithstanding the grave harm which he has caused to this Movement) can be exposed for what it is – to use the BNF as a ladder to fulfil his political ambition of becoming this country’s President.

Truly not everyone who shouts ‘lord lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven. It is clear that Boko hangs on to the BNF’s apron-strings by a very tenuous thread indeed. The fact that he was recruited directly into the BNF leadership gave him the illusion that he has no obligation to acquaint himself with the principles and political culture of the organisation he leads and abide by them.

He seems to believe that it is the BNF, which has to adapt itself to his views and proclivities. As he said at the UDC congress held in Gaborone in 2018 “Maforanta le tswa go ntsaya ko ke ne ke le teng ko ditirong tsame le re ke te ke le etelele”.

In these words is contained the whole enigma of the Boko factor in the BNF. Ga a thoke go tladiwa le fa ele go fokotswa. Gololang ngwana wa batho a boele ko ditirong tsa gagwe. 

The balance-sheet of Boko’s leadership is clear and unambiguous-it has been an unmitigated disaster for our Movement.

His continued leadership can only further disorganise and decompose the BNF from within.

We appeal to the BNF members to rescue their Movement at the coming congress by decisively rejecting Boko and voting for a team, which has genuine commitment to BNF’s progressive ideals.


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