THE OBSERVER: BDP’S Sireletsa bokamoso – What a joke?

SHARE   |   Monday, 30 May 2016   |   By Simon Gabathuse
BDP supporters in a joyful mood BDP supporters in a joyful mood

We have entered an era of political discourse were reality of the moment defines the political future and will. A part of that is the choice of candidates to national elections. In this instalment I pursue the particularly worrying trend of vetting processes by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). It is a given fact, right in our faces that the majority voter is a young person. It is also a given fact that the larger part of the population in this country is predominantly young people. It is yet another given fact that the middle class are the most frustrated by the many forms of economic hardships they find themselves within. It is thus a given fact that the middle class have taken their rightful space, mostly as workers, to lead opinion on any matter of national interest. For a change, we are also witnessing the rise of middle class as political activists, a political role initially left for the low class, the unemployed and though sad to say, the illiterate. It is a role now run by the middle class through the meagre economics which fund the pockets of the unemployed, though literate youths. Yet within the middle class space is their political activism that brings hope and faith that the economy of the country will if allocated to the authority of the relevant people to take care of trickle down with not only due care and attention but with the realisation that mistakes of the past have to be rectified. Our current politics is about rectifying mistakes of the past in the most prudent way. Essentially our politics are purely about bread and butter issues.

The BDP has, on the other hand, been left out in this understanding. Their choice of candidates in the past three by-elections leaves a lot to be desired. Not intending to sound petty and exclusive please allow me to posit that the BDP’s choice of candidates has been lacking in appeal. They have come across as either terribly old, as in the case of the Ramotswa Kelemogile Council ward by-elections, to rugged looks as in the case of the recent Phillip Matante by-election ward elections in Francistown. Please pardon my observation. The natural expectation is that our leaders are a reflection of the society. The modern voter is aware of this and the modern voter is a young person as I have posited herein above. The modern voter will always favour the young and physically appealing candidates. It sounds and looks ‘insulting’ to be presented with someone who appears as if they need to be led themselves. A leader must inspire confidence in all the ways possible. The former political terrain seemed to have rested comfort on the notion that poverty and sympathy sells politicians and brings the votes. This was because the voter then was not educated as for the role of the political leaders. The current voter is aware of the role of political leaders.

The political leaders of generations that expected them to be men and women who will attend funerals, weddings etcetera have been replaced. The current political leaders, of the modern day Botswana, are expected to provide services to the people using the tax payers’ money, not monies from their pockets, yet at the same time they are expected to have monies of their own. The current voter does not celebrate poverty. They should have the ability to first think of themselves before they can purport to think for a nation. The current expectation is that not of politics as a ground and village of retirement where people come to enjoy their pensions as the BDP Ramotswa candidate suggest through just trying a glimpse on his face. You can tell that the man is old. Service delivery in the modern day dictates that thorough and informed debates should be allowed to prevail and bringing those who have failed to constructively debate in their generation, during their time, to come and purport a developmental debate in the modern society is lacking in logic. We are not looking for someone to narrate to us the tales of the past. We are looking for service delivery debates.

The slogan of the BDP campaign being ‘sireletsa bokamoso’ next to the old man presented as a candidate is not helping. How do we protect the future by putting forward those who are ‘nearer my God to thee’ to the political leadership? It is more like protecting the past, protecting the history. Maybe the slogan in the case of the BDP in the Ramotswa council by-elections could have been ‘sireletsa ditsatlholego’ because that’s how it looks like; that the idea is to protect history, the past. This cannot be said to be right in any format. The BDP and indeed all other political parties must be a bit a serious in their vetting processes, to align candidates with the modern day moments. The political parties must revisit their vetting process to make them more rigorous. Painful as this might sound, it is high time we set age limit for council candidates. We might even want to look further into literacy. Development is not doing what has been done or saying what has been said. It is about new ways of doings things and the old people cannot be expected to do anything new because they are not new. They are old. There is an old English saying that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. The same applies to development, we can’t develop the country by continuing to bring generations that failed us to lead the modern day generation. It is just not right in any format. I am not sure this is coming out correctly, it might be viewed as disrespectful, but equally, it has to be said. Those who have retired from being active members of the society should not be brought back as political candidates. Equally those who appear rugged and those with petty crime outlooks should be shunned. It is wrong for any party to try to ignore this fact for simply trying to be culturally correct. Down with a culture that continues to be used to bring back pensioners and petty crime looking characters as possible political leaders.

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