The hogwash clandestine kidnap of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) principles of democracy, resilience and unity that continues to supersede in an uncouth clit at the hands of a hallucinating syndicate should be condemned to the sea shores of the red sea. The BMD has been held ransom by the mafia syndrome destined to deny this nation regime change. There is no other time than now for the BMD to redeem itself, it needs redemption. An array of shenanigans continue to deplete the soul of conscious characters willing and able to serve the movement through conspicuous, shroud plots and hate campaigns seeking nothing but death of reality. The Botswana Movement for Democracy is in need of introspection, soul search and perhaps retrace its steps to the BMD of 2010, not in public perception, no, not in leadership, no, but in its sole principles that gave it a formidable image to be an alternative partner with other opposition parties in the fight against the ambiguous dictatorship leadership of Ian Khama’s government.
As some of you might know, I’ve been stirring up quite a bit of trouble on Facebook the last few weeks discussing the Sidney Pilane issue and the Gomolemo Motswaledi report release. First let me note that the posts and comments on social media by fellow Cdes are right in their own ways. Some of what I will say below will echo hatred in particular, but I want to explore the history of this whole thing a bit more and offer some more reasons why it should matter to bleeding heart liberals whose contribution to this movement continues to be supersede by power mongers and lust imbeciles unaware of this siege.
To start, those of us who have been around the movement since its formation knew all about this stuff and knew that power mongers would never go away. The attempt to court the leadership through appeals to the most unsavoury sorts of arguments was a conscious part of the “pale libertarian” strategy that some cooked up. What’s happening right now is that the chickens of that effort are coming home to roost with large external costs on all of us as members of the movement. In other words, we are experiencing “blowback,” and Pilane’s supporters of all people should understand that when you poke at sleeping dogs, you should not be surprised when they turn around and attack you, even if it takes a couple of decades. Now Pilane’s supporters understand viscerally what he’s rightly argued about his involvement with the DISS.
So why is it that this Sidney Pilane issue of him returning to the BMD is of concern to most of us? Indulge me some history for a bit while I offer an explanation. The BMD started as a movement of the masses, with people like Gomolemo Motswaledi being our standard bearers against the forces of reaction and conservatism in, especially over issues of governance. We were the “progressives” of that era, viewing Botswana’s political arena as a force for progress for all, especially the least well-off, and as a great equalizer. It was Gomolemo Motswaledi who argued that it was a good thing that BMD would lead to equality in opposition and opposition unity to people like Sidney Pilane who rejected opposition unity because they wanted to maintain political hierarchy and a symbol of authority. The BMD liberal revolution was a revolution against privilege and the old order. It was the radical progressivism of its day.
Unfortunately, the BMD leadership never figured out how to respond to the development of shenanigans, and especially the deceitful characters under BDP payroll and others in a confused state, in a way that has crippled our progressive credentials. By default, we moved from liberals to confused imbeciles, thrown in with opponents of the growing diabolic BDP wave into one den. From the Old BMD of 2010 through the death of Gomolemo Motswaledi, BMD’s opposition to reality, especially interferences in the party, has led us to ally with the forces of reaction. But even with the demise of really-existing unity, we have been unable to completely break free of that connection to the BDP, though things are a bit better than they used to be, some continue to receive prestigious funding from the likes of Hon Thapelo Olopeng, Sidney Pilane etc to deny progressive characters the opportunity to lead the movement.
Those of us who witnessed all of this happen over the past years knew it would come back to haunt us and so it has, unfortunately just as UDC is on the grasp of something really amazing. And that only goes to show what a mistake most of us have committed: imagine if the report was not an issue and UDC were to win governance. Yeah, UDC might get ignored, but it would not be the easy media target it is now, nor would all of UDC pay a potential price. The legions of young people supporting BMD did not come in via the death of Gomolemo Motswaledi; they came because liberalism in general is on the rise in all kinds of venues (and yes, SirG’s post-death influence is important here, but it’s hardly the only thing that matters). These young people, for the most part, are surprised by all of this dirty laundry. That, in my view, is the real tragedy: I think the BMD leadership could have got to this point just as fast, maybe faster, without the toxic baggage of shenanigans plots to deny us a voice.
So why deal with this now, when UDC is so hot? Because the BMD movement has lost direction, what are occurring is not what BMD is and the sooner and louder we make that clear, the better. There are too many young people who don’t understand all of this and who we need to help see the alternative liberal vision of the BMD – and to understand that “liberalism” is radical, principled, and humane and not “beltway selling out” as it is transpiring. To do that, we need to confront the past and explicitly reject it. That doesn’t necessarily mean rejecting Sidney Pilane in electoral politics, but it does mean that we cannot pretend the past doesn’t exist and it means that Pilane and the others involved need to do the right thing and take explicit responsibility for what they said years ago. That has not happened yet. Then we need a complete and utter rejection of Pilane and we need to create a movement that will simply not be attractive to DISS lovers, power mongers, cheats etc., by emphasizing, as we have done since the formation of the BMD, our true liberal roots.
What we need right now is BMD’s vision of a free society as sketched in its constitution, but we need it defended better. We need to defend it more carefully, richly, empirically, humanely, progressively, tolerantly and with better scholarship. And we have to do it in a way that’s immune to the charge that liberals don’t care about making the world a better place, especially for the least well off and those historically victimized by their gender, their sexual orientation, or anything else that’s irrelevant to their moral status as human. The writings of the leadership’s failures will continue to stain the project (BMD) unless and until the rest of the movement members stop trying to apologize for them (“you don’t understand the context” or “it was a long time ago” or “You are from a different generation”) or kicking the can down the road because UDC might win (“why bring this up now when we’re winning?” or “You are just like the circular firing squad”) or just plain saying Your writings don’t matter because it’s all media bias (“it’s just the hired BDP guns trying to destroy the BMD/UDC image”), these people are hilarious with their submissions when thinking no longer exists but emotions and mini-minded thoughts take over.
It’s time to face our ugly past head on and to explicitly reject it. And it is the past of every BMD member. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t there, or weren’t alive, or think it’s stupid: if you call yourself a BMD member and especially if you support opposition Unity, it’s part of your past like it or not. That’s how life works sometimes. We can’t name the traitors or make the traitors step forward, either of which would help immensely. We can, however, take pains to make clear that some of Sidney Pilane’s past and current associations are rejected by BMD members who understand the principles of our movement and whose vision of a free society is one that is so clearly in conflict with murder, homophobia, and all the rest that people like Sidney Pilane would never even consider sending us a donation and we would recoil at being photographed with them.
Until we can say that with confidence, there’s every reason in the world to keep talking about the report and Sidney Pilane’s return to the BMD and what they mean us sober citizens, especially during this trial moment. It’s time to reclaim our progressive history from the hands of shenanigans: from political sell-outs, to the era of reality. As many of us have argued from the start, the heritages of Gomolemo’s teachings are properly a progressive one. Our roots are in the anti-power mongers and scientific loyalty of Sidney Pilane and others in the plight to sentence our aspirations to death. We believe in peaceful exchange, voluntary cooperation, progress, enlightenment, tolerance and mutual respect, and openness to change. That is our heritage and that’s the BMD that I grew up with in the 2010 and 2014, and that’s the progressive BMD I want to proudly enter into the debate over the future of human social organization. If the report and Sidney Pilane fiasco serves to further prod us into reclaiming that heritage, we will have turned an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. I’m going to continue to do all I can to help make sure it happens.
In a democracy, it is the members of the party who are 'the power structure', and those are not mere words. Politicians and corporate leaders have been bending the wishes of the people for some decades now; bending the laws and skating the edges of morality and decency, too, as well as often outright defying all these. We seem to tacitly agree that they have gotten away with it because hardly any have gone to jail - but then, not very many of us believe them anymore, and fewer and fewer of us read newspapers, a simple fact. If we do not believe what the power structures (and newspapers) are telling us, what sort of power do they have?
The power they do have is largely related to the fact that our 'public sphere' of discussion and debate has diminished to the point it is almost non-existent: that we have no media or physical or virtual town squares where we can discuss ideas without influence from government or business; those with money. Democracy requires citizens to be informed, not propagandized. The success of the UDC has been in showing citizens what might be accomplished by voting for it in both physical and metaphorical ways. Power structures can only exist with the consent of the people, and I think it is right to point out that this consent is fast disappearing. What shall we replace it with? However we shall decide to reconfigure our democracy, first and foremost we shall require a true public sphere for vigorous discussion, because anything else merely sustains the status quo.
The BMD is extensively in absolute need of redemption.
...I REMAIN RESOLUTE
Kabelo Masvingo Mhuriro
Gaborone Central resident