THE OBSERVER: Is Gaolathe too weak to protect himself from Pilane?

SHARE   |   Monday, 06 June 2016   |   By Simon Gabathuse
THE OBSERVER: Is Gaolathe too weak to protect himself from Pilane?

In this instalment I am failing to look the other way and pretend that BMD is not exposing the weakness in the intentions of local political leaders. The interests of the people have been put aside and egos of political leaders have taken over the platform meant for the people. Having been amongst those alive at the formation of BMD, I am obviously inclined to follow developments and regresses in there. I share here my views, my thoughts and what I perceive to be the unfortunate situation at hand. What is happening to the BMD is deepening wounds of the political landscape as a whole. Like many others in our society, in my little room of concern,  I have had the opportunity to chat with those people of prominence whom together back then laid that first brick of the BMD formation as a splinter party of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party. Most are equally sad, devastated and disappointed at the ongoing. But it is increasingly becoming clear that most have opted to stay away from the discourse because of fear of the new culture in our political discourse. The new culture that when you differ in view and opinion, the immediate defence is unpalatable throwing of insults to whoever is considered a target. This political bullying has somehow managed to take over from the constructive criticism that used to be the cornerstone of discourse. It has taken away the foundation of nationalism.

Though it might be argued that this is just a handful, the negative impact is however greater than the handful. The upcoming generation is experiencing this colour of politics and immediately assume that it has been and should continue to be the trend. I must also not forget to mention that in the process, the aspect of debating why opposition wants to attain state power has been lost to the lack of developmental debate as inroads into personal lives has taken over the core and crust of debate. This scenario cannot be left unchallenged. The issue of Advocate Sydney Pilane is nothing else but a clear sign of fear of loss of power on the part of Honourable Gaolathe and his faction. Politics is about power. Those honestly against him do confirm in private talks their fear that he will defeat the incumbent President of the BMD, His Honour Ndaba Gaolathe for the leadership of the party. Those who are against him, yet not knowing exactly why they don’t want him have blamed him for spending his own personal resources in building the party. They have blamed him for even being a lawyer. They continue to suggest that he has been bought by faceless power houses. At the end of it all his crime seems to be simply that like any other politician, he is aware that politics is about power. But sadly for him, he is an unwanted man who is being accused of raining dust even when he jumps into a pool full of water. In politics, it is the people that suffer at these moments.

None of this is new in opposition politics. What is only new is that there are more young people taking active politics in the hope of a new era than ever before. Many are accused for having been bought even before the BMD itself was born. Within the BMD itself, ever since its inception, the stories peddled around of people being bought have been galore. Some have had to leave the organisation after being labelled all sorts of things. Some have simply resigned to the wilderness for they could not stand the toxic environment deliberately created to make membership disregard them with misguided contempt. Within those in the side-lines are those who have been cursed and bruised.  Most of the founders and those who have defected back to the ruling BDP have not been spared this rod. Back to Advocate Sidney Pilane. It is not a new phenomenon, as the BMD members and leaders confess, that Advocate Sidney Pilane is availing his personal resources in the interest of the BMD. Many have done that before and many continue to do so, only silently. We have all heard that Pilane has towards the BMD inaugural Kgale Congress spent a lot of his monies together with his supporters and sympathisers building structures for the party. It is has become a given fact that towards the BMD inaugural congress, the party, in its teething process needed more money than any other political organisation, not only for building structures, but for clearing Gomolemo Motswaledi legal bills, office rental, to pay staff and volunteers, party colourful regalia and the lavish spending the party found itself engaged in. The BMD leadership has confirmed that Advocate Sidney Pilane was through it all dishing out the money, and that was not a problem.

Towards the first BMD congress, he continued dishing out his personal resources. Yet Gomolemo Motswaledi beat him hands down in the polls. Clearly Advocate Sidney Pilane was a good contender but not as good as Motswaledi. This is the spirit of internal democracy; internal elections. Blocking a person into attaining non-controversial membership for fear that he might defeat you at the polls cannot be in anyway viewed as democracy. It is dictatorship. It is not different from what we see in other countries. Sadly in our country it appears to be coming from the opposition. The loud cry seems to be suggesting that His Honour Ndaba Gaolathe is not strong enough, well just to say it; is too weak to contest against Advocate Sidney Pilane. I shiver at this thought! Why is Honourable Gaolathe not asking his ‘faction’ to stop this insinuation? Why did they allow him to lead if they doubted his ability to protect himself? It is being said by those wishing dead and non-existent the membership of Advocate Sidney Pilane that they are protecting His Honour Ndaba Gaolathe. And hence it is beginning to sound like Honourable Gaolathe is too weak to protect himself. It then becomes problematic since a leader who cannot protect himself cannot be then said to be capable enough to protect a political formation nor the people belonging to it. Besides that, the culture being built is equally wrong; the BMD is failing to uphold basic principles of internal democracy.

One can only hope that BMD recovers from this journey of self-destruction and recall he reasons they advanced as to why they went for this political formation. In remembering the reasons for its formation, BMD will see all the good enshrined in their policy document entitled ‘the people’s aspirations in a new beginning’. I have in going through the constitution of the BMD observed that this good is also well enshrined in the constitution of BMD which by the way will be a mistake to amend just for the sake of a single individual. Individuals come and go; organisations remain. The question remains that; in going up in political arms to seemingly ‘protect’ Honourable Gaolathe, is the nation being told that he is too weak to protect himself from the regular and ordinary internal power struggles which are not peculiar to the BMD? If this is the case, how then can Honourable Ndaba Gaolathe protect a whole political party?
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