Empty rhetoric will not bring regime change

SHARE   |   Sunday, 31 August 2014   |   By Ephraim Keoreng

Debates and sympathy alone cannot assure you of victory. The opposition, especially the Umbrella for Democratic Change has been telling all and sundry of how its international friends will provide millions to bankroll the party's election campaign. On the festive season, the party leader even went around with movie super-star Rick Yune on a helicopter to far flung areas that are difficult to access via surface transport.  It was seen as a rare opportunity for the opposition to reach out to the people in rural areas and share their policies with them. This really brought a lot of excitement among the UDC members and their sympathisers. Here was a sign that indeed the opposition had money to reach out to places that have been extremely difficult to reach. Places that have only been easily accessible to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, especially through cabinet ministers and the president, Ian Khama who have the government fleet and helicopters to go anywhere they in the country. So the helicopter trip by UDC President, Duma Boko was a sign that indeed the party had supporters from within and abroad. This to them was confirmation that they had support and money to launch a strong election campaign. Among the BDP faithful, this instilled a sense of foreboding. A steely feeling of fear settled in their hearts. Suddenly they realised that they were facing a different opponent. These elections were not going to be the usual walk in the park, so they thought. After all the signs were there; Boko and his party were on a pedestal and intimating that indeed victory is certain.

They had a very nice and simple propaganda strategy-to hoodwink the enemy into thinking that it is facing its toughest challenge. That is what propaganda does. The likes of Josef Goebels, Sadam's Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, masters of spin, who twisted the truth to an extent that to their audience, truth became fiction and fiction became truth.

During the Gulf war in 2003, al-Sahaf used propaganda well to inspire Iraqi troops and the public, selling them a dummy, that indeed they were strong and that the prospect of victory remained high.
But then what are the effects of propaganda on the enemy? Besides running helter-skelter, a strong political opponent like the BDP who has a lot to lose should she lose power, will not just sit back and wait when told that indeed there are convincing plans to dislodge the ruling party from power. The outcomes of that have already been made very clear by opposition leaders; prison and all sorts of persecution against all those found to have been corrupt n abusing office, and there are many examples of such excesses. So who would want to lose power and go to jail, let alone lose their riches and the power to decide what goes and what does not? But thenl with this propaganda, the BDP was warned of impending danger. In Setswana we have a saying that goes ‘Go ratela phiri ka matlhoa.’ This is an advise that teaches you the importance of stealth and the element of surprise if you want to get your quarry or defeat your enemy in war. The illustrious expert on strategy and attaining victory, writer of The art of war, Sun Tzu says in his famous book, “Let your plans be dark and as impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt”.

The opposition as observed by various political experts remains disjointed. It is characterised by petty infighting. At a time when you though they will unite and form a powerful force to take the BDP head-on, they squabbled. In fact, Khama and his party found an opportunity to cause chaos and anarchy within the opposition ranks. He went on the government television to say he is sending an apology to the Botswana Congress Party for what he said was the unruly behaviour of the UDC youths. This has sown seeds of mistrust and hatred between the UDC and the BCP. While the BCP are chagrined as they think their leader has been stopped from making an address at the Motswaledi funeral as scheduled, the UDC is now feeling that the BCP is hobnobbing with Khama’s party. It is a political war and so far, the opposition is not winning it.

After looking at what transpired at Motswaledi's funeral, where at the heart of the BDP support base, Serowe, the opposition was seen as being endorsed by among others, Sir Ketumile Masire, a BDP founder. The BDP went back to the drawing table and worked out strategies. Elections consultants, media campaigns, which have seen among other things, the party’s head of publicity, Mokgweetsi Masisi caught on tape as he laid out dirty tricks they will use on social media to launch a propaganda war. Meanwhile, besides the usual rallies, what is the opposition doing to dislodge the BDP? Do they expect God to come down here and hand them victory on a silver platter?