THE OBSERVER: In defence of Rakgare

SHARE   |   Monday, 25 January 2016   |   By Simon Gabathuse
THE OBSERVER: In defence of Rakgare

The President of the Botswana Congress Party Youth League; Chillyboy Tumiso Rakgare finds himself being crucified for being honest and real. He finds himself in the midst of political space that does not allow truth to be told in plain view. He simply answered truthfully that the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi who is also the chairman of the ruling party will be a thorn for the opposition once he takes over the leadership of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and that of the country. It would have been untruthful for Rakgare to say Mokgweetsi Masisi has a bad name and reputation when the matter is rather otherwise. One would have expected the opposition to view and hear Rakgare to be raising alarm that Mokgweetsi Masisi will not be a walk over and hence the need to work extra hard.

Given the margin that Mokgweetsi Masisi won with as the Member of Parliament for Moshupa – Manyana constituency in the last general elections, one can safely say Chillyboy Tumiso Rakgare is right! It is not a secret that Masisi has nothing negative to his name that can make headlines except that he has at one point labelled himself a bootlicker. Labelling himself a bootlicker has though not taken away any strength from him and rather can be argued to have given him more strength and ammunition against his opponents as was the case at the BDP’s Mmadinare congress where he sailed in through with outmost ease despite many contestants against him. Masisi is clearly gaining ground every day and such ground he is gaining is clean from the usual allegations of corruption, looting, thuggery and all sorts of labels that political leaders often find themselves being associated with.

The Opposition should not just be looking for the negative even where none exists. The fair battle with Masisi should be based on progressive reasoning as to who is best placed to rule the country between him and Duma Boko, Ndaba Gaolathe and Dumelang Saleshando and not to merely say he is a bootlicker. Bootlicker or no bootlicker, at the moment he is constitutionally at an advantage of taking over from President Ian Khama Seretse Khama. There is no sign at the moment that the BDP will have some form of implosion towards instability. That Chillyboy Rakgare was dishing out food or ‘soup’ at the official residence of the vice president of Botswana should not be used against him. This is a very small population where we are all relatives and friends in one way or the other. The BCP leaders are unfortunately often accused of sleeping with the ruling BDP forgetting in the process the social dynamics of Botswana.

This deliberate alignment of the BCP to the ruling BDP to discredit the former should be challenged. Dumelang Saleshando and his family have also before been accused of being sympathetic to the BDP simply for owning some shares in the same company that the Khamas have shares in. This cannot be correct. It is pathetic that simply because Chillyboy Rakgare was seen at the Vice President’s official residence dishing out ‘soup’ to traditional leaders; he is thus viewed as a BDP sympathiser. Chillyboy Rakgare was invited to a dinner at the official residence of the Vice President as a young person and he attended. His attending of the dinner if viewed to be a purpose to flirt with BDP then posits that we have a problem as a country. We are then expected not to socially relate simply because of political lines and this cannot be correct in a small population that is Botswana.

Our political differences must not make us lose sight of our status as social beings. Chillyboy Rakgare was right to attend the dinner which he was invited to. It was going to be disrespectful of him not to attend the dinner when invited to by not only the Vice President of the country but further by an elder. Nationalism includes being able to put the country before political party colours and such a beautiful sight of a young leader of an opposition party having dinner with the Vice President of the country from a ruling party should be celebrated. The reality that Rakgare was serving not only traditional leaders but rather elders as any Motswana child would have done is deliberately being ignored to deliberately drive home a political agenda. Chillyboy Rakgare was actually right to stand up and help serve traditional leaders - this was a clear sign that despite political engagement of youngsters, the youth still remember that elders are to be respect at all costs. Such is the tradition of Botswana.

It is common for youth of the ruling party to give respect as expected to the traditional leaders who have abdicated their thrones in favour of politics such as Kgosikgolo ya Batawana Kgosi Tawana Moremi and Kgosikgolo ya Barolong Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II. The respect these traditional leaders belonging to the opposition ranks get from the ruling party youngsters is not a result of a desire by the youngsters of the BDP to defect to the opposition or for being sympathetic to the opposition. It is the way the young are raised in this country; that they should respect their elders and more importantly should cherish and respect the traditional leadership of the country. Chillyboy Rakgare was merely exercising the lessons he learnt when growing up in this country.

There is a general belief that opposition youth are disrespectful and basing their politics on insults and indiscipline. It is hence sad that when a youth leader such as Chillyboy Rakgare extends the negation of such notion, he is castigated. Worse enough he is castigated by those who should have defended him outright. Castigating Rakgare to a point of reminding him that he is new at the BCP should not be taken lightly. It is a clear sign that amongst all political parties, across the divide resides an unwritten rule that new members are not necessarily welcome. There is nothing wrong with seeing and expressing good on an opposing political camp. It was even common cause towards the 2014 General Elections to hear BDP candidates and activists showering the BCP with accolades for a clean campaign. That was not perceived to mean that such people were considering defecting to the BCP; it was merely people reacting to the good that was coming from another political camp which is essentially a Botswana camp. Such is the spirit of nationalism.

On a parting friendly note I wish to point out that there is nothing wrong with being broke. The BCP has itself admitted to being broke in the past few months and Chillyboy Tumiso Rakgare was not saying anything new. He was merely stating the obvious that he is broke and that the BCP is also broke. It takes a real leader to go out in the open and admit that he is broke. Actually we could all take Rakgare’s confession that he is broke as a declaration of assets; only that his assets are liabilities; being broke and in debts!
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