The alternative message is not coming out clearly

SHARE   |   Monday, 27 March 2017   |   By Banks Ndebele
The alternative message is not coming out clearly

Coming from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) of UDC, a party that arguably had the most progressive political message going into 2014 elections (forget about the outcome), I subscribe to politics of substance. I believe in putting ideas forth and subject them to the voter's scrutiny. Politics being politics, the temptation to find fault in a political opponent is always potent, rightfully so. That is the essence of politics. But the most progressive politics is when you bring forth your ideas to be measured against the other. Sample this; It’s no cloak and dagger that corruption is rampant in this country. The ruling elite seems lost as to how to effectively address this scourge. This is not contestable. My interest and indeed that of any serious minded voter will be to hear what the alternative voice offers in as far as addressing corruption is concerned. The voter does not need to be told anymore that Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is failing to address corruption. The voter already knows. He/she now wants to hear how the other party will address this problem. The message should be that which can be backed by empirical evidence. We live in a time when evidence-based policy has taken centre stage. People are tired of politics of deception that strive on patronising the voter's mind with empty and unrealistic rhetoric. They want only that which is realistic and that which would work. Our education system is in tatters; it's on free fall. In fact, it is in Intensive Care Unit. Even an old woman in the far flanked remote areas  of Mosetse and Tobane knows this. She no longer needs to be told that the BDP has failed dismally in this area.  She only needs tangible solutions. More energy and time should therefore be expended in this direction. Unemployment is surely the biggest national concern at the moment.

Companies are closing down while some down-sizing every new day. Graduates are roaming the streets without any hope for tomorrow. Some have found speaking English with twisted noses in Shebeens as their only validation. In every corner of the country, it is the same cry. The problem is so vivid to anyone. We can't dwell on sighting the obvious. Let's us focus more on the solution message. How are we going to turn this sorry state around? We need even time frames to be more convincing. We need figures, realistic figures. Agriculture, which once was the mainstay of the economy, is now sitting lowly as far as contributing to our GDP is concerned. But there is great potential to bring it closer to its former glory. The big question is, how do we achieve that? That is the question the voter is asking. We are still very far from being self-sufficient in the provision of reliable water and electricity after 50 years of self-rule. A robust transformational programme is needed to make these sectors contribute more meaningfully to a sustained economic growth. But how are we going to do it? These questions from the voter beg for honest answers. The list is not exhaustive. There are many other issues  such as slow allocation of land; issues related to youth; health concerns such as shortage of skilled staff and medication; collapsing mining sector; democracy and the rule of law; just to mention but a few. The opposition needs to come up with relevant yet well researched and well-thought out polices targeting these critical areas. We can't afford to ignore this one. We also need to encourage robust and intelligent debates around these issues, and not expend our energy on character assassinating an already weak BDP.

Banks Ndebele