To say the factional wars of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) are toxic is an understatement. For us the hungry scribes, the public spats, between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor, Ian Khama, the self-mutilation is juicy matters to keep us on our toes and readers rushing to grab newsprints hot off the presses. Not a week goes by without salvos shot from both ends.
Never have we had leaders, of the ruling party taking on each other, in public, as we have today. It makes for good read, in turn a jump in sales, listenership and viewership. If we are to check the latest readership figures from the Audited Bureau of Circulation, we may find that many of our struggling publications are doing good.
But the more one follows these reports, of the battle of control of the party, and by extension the government, one struggles to understand the beef. What is really the issue at hand? Is it Khama’s need and desperation to remain relevant after 10 years, rather 20 years, at the helm of the BDP and the government? Is it as it has been suggested, the former’s intention to control his successor, rule from the grave as he once accused his predecessor, Festus Mogae of? Is it because Masisi’s fight against corruption is making the former nervous and threatened? And why would Khama be in panic? What about Masisi himself? Is he trying so hard to be his own man that he is prepared to undo even the good the former has done? Is he, on realising that most Batswana felt hard done by the Ian Khama regime, playing to the gallery? Is Masisi abusing power, so intent on his mission, that he is using the state security organs to expose and finish off his nemesis, Khama and his links? Or the incumbent is serious about fighting corruption that he is even prepared to sacrifice the BDP, thus his power? These questions and many more, can and should be answered. And it is the media, who should be providing answers. For now unfortunately I must say, we are failing the public. All we are doing to running between the two centres of power, hunting for sound bites and feeding the public frenzy. Just as much as major figures in this drama are using the media, journalists are also in turn, playing Khama and Masisi against each other. Even the political analysts are still to provide the real unfiltered and unbiased analysis of what real is at stake. In the meantime, the client, the public is less the wiser.
But we still have time and opportunity to give a proper account analysis of what really is going on in the BDP that has taken the president away from national duties,of ruling the country, to fighting factional partisan wars.As the BDP prepares for an unprecedented presidential contest in Kang in April, the information-starved public has to be taken into confidence, as to why the ruling party is eating itself up. Not just the loyal Domkrag supporters, but nation Botswana which has every right to know who is fighting to lead the ruling party into the October general elections and why. What is it that those who are fighting for the heart and soul of the BDP, and ultimately the government, bringing to the table?
By now we know that former minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi is challenging Masisi for the presidency, a first in the history of the BDP. While MmaMoitoi has suffered ridicule and to some extend abuse for daring to challenge the leader - with her detractors dismissing her as nothing but Khama’s stooge used to pave way for the former’s younger brother, Tshekedi Khama - we are yet to understand why she does not qualify for the seat. Just as we are yet to hear why she is challenging Masisi, apart from being her democratic right.
The ‘I support Masisi’ video campaign, run by a biased BDP sub-committee, has maDomkrag, all of us really, believing that the incumbent is the right man to lead the BDP as he has proven, in the nine months on the job, able and determined. The glowing accounts from Cabinet Ministers, party elders and even former opposition activist and unionist, Johnson Motshwarakgole, is about what Masisi has done in the short period, encouraging maDomkrag going to Kang in April to vote for him. But the message fails to tell what Masisi, who apart from reversing Khama’s projects, and having BURS, DCEC, and DIS on crime bursting spree, has, and will do on real issues of governance. The campaign misses an opportunity to share the president’s roadmap on citizen empowerment, unemployment, education and health crisis, growing poverty and the rising crime rate, including gender based violence and child abuse.
What the BDP activists of both factions are failing to communicate is the candidates’ manifestos. Beyond the petty talk, the accusations and counter-accusations, what is in store for the voters? If MmaMoitoi takes the presidency of the BDP, would there be a change to the party manifesto to be launched immediately after the April 6 extra-ordinary congress? Or is that Masisi manifesto, and therefore, a selling tool for the incumbent? If MmaMoitoi wins the BDP vote, and goes on to win the national election come October, would what Masisi reversed since coming to office in April, be reversed back?
What Batswana need is the real story the meat, not the teasers full of talk and no substance.