In cognizant of the fact that in a republic, being a citizen is a fulltime job, I wish to shower the press media with a resounding applause for having raised the Accountability Flag on the recent unfolding tragedies within BOPEU and UDC. Fact is that role of media is to shine a light into every crevice and corner and expose whatever they may find before the court of public opinion. In fact, Botswana is in need of a local civil society organisation to promote accountability and transparency culture in Botswana. Such a structure is more prompt because the Domkrag – State is resistant to put into legislation the declaration of assets and right to access information instruments. It is so heartbreaking to learn of the lavish and corrupt spending practices by some of BOPEU fat-cats. We are reliably informed that these fat-cats boast of five – figure salaries and several benefits including free housing, fine dining, stays in posh hotels and cars as gifts for their executive positions. According to media reports, Andrew Motsamai is negotiating a P4 million exit package. This goes out to show that the Union bosses are completely out of touch with the rank and file membership. Rather than doing what they were elected to do i.e. safeguarding wages and benefits for union members, the union bosses have turned a blind eye on the real issues, instead they prefer to cheat the rank and file. This is just more proof that unions are used as a personal money-making business. The worst disgust about the whole BOPEU saga is the reported involvement of some of the UDC leadership. If we are to go by the recent media reports with regard to financial deals between some BOPEU shenanigans and some of the UDC leaders, we have to be worried of possible imminent danger under the present UDC leadership. This would mean that some of the leaders in the UDC are now committing unimaginable mistakes totally alien to the political principles of their party. The UDC leadership has shifted opposition politics of Botswana further to the right, thus potentially shifting politics of the country in the direction of one party system. We are now witnessing the rise of ultra-right politics in Botswana, where the Opposition is positioning itself side by side on the political spectrum of political donations, vested interests, personal ambition, class and power. Some in UDC leadership have now moved into a territory of powerful business lobbyists. It seems they are now tired of complacency in moral righteousness of opposition politics. These UDC leaders have secretively chosen to become the ‘born–again’ national petty bourgeoisie as they have befriended the BDP ruling class in the race for riches. Such individuals have now moved into a territory of powerful business lobbyists. Some are even desperate to be next – door neighbours of the BDP ruling class.
It is reckless for a leadership that claims to fight for the liberation of the working class from poor salary scales, to indulge in a malicious predatory modus operandi of robbing Unions. Such a compromise amounts to the politics of irresponsibility. To act as such is to reverse the struggles of the masses and to join the forces whom the opposition is fighting to remove from power. It is to trample down the primary political commitment and promise of the opposition. The hidden motives of the UDC leadership as expressed in the media reports bring about pessimism on the UDC being the refuge of the oppressed as well as sympathisers who are not amused by the state of affairs under the BDP rule. Repeated speeches by the UDC leadership on genuine mutual interest in democracy and development under a system of egalitarian rule, is a promise they know they would not keep given the evidence of their acts. Notwithstanding the hurdles placed by BDP, a lot of undoing in the opposition has a lot to do with their weakness, shortsightness and notoriousness of fighting one another as opposed to their common political adversary. This phenomenon continues to take occurrence, despite the fact that the opposition parties have resolved to fight as one united front. The inextinguishable rages at BMD, the entry of BCP in UDC and the sidelining of the UDC conveners and its general membership have brought up a complex and dirty–game dominated by egoistic elements who are determined to take the UDC project anywhere, including to hell! UDC was formulated to increase the Opposition opportunity to win the minds and hearts of people and to cash that into votes. Yet to the frustration of many who wish to see a capable opposition that keeps the BDP on its toes, UDC has become inconsequential to that effect. How sad that the opposition leadership continues to repeat the error of failing to fulfill their mandate of bringing about the much desired alternative rule. It is evidently emerging that UDC lacks of political leadership smarts. The UDC leadership seems to be devoid of the political know-how of what their roles entail. They don’t seem to have a good grasp of an opposition leader`s duties and responsibilities. Already, there is a concern among Batswana about the UDC seeing the cracks on the wall and floor inside the UDC. The cry of ‘betrayal’ is not far from being echoed across the country. Indeed, the Botswana public is looking on in bemusement at best and horror at worst, questioning whether the UDC is a glorified protest movement or serious party that can attain power, capable of commanding the economy and possessing the will to defend the realm.
Frankly, as it stands now, the UDC exists at best in the arena of social media, so much that instead of challenging the ruling party and increasing its support by the public, the UDC leadership has fallen prey to acts of slanders and personal attacks. They find themselves having to lead a party through their emotions as supposed to their brains, hence allotting their precious time to a tit-for tat on social media. They even spend their valuable time revisiting their professional credentials or muddying themselves up in flavour of the Facebook petty bickering. In a nutshell, the UDC can be termed as a party opposed to its mandate for it is proving to be nothing more than a protest party in danger of whithering to political irrelevance. To lead people`s struggles and effect regime change require enormous courage, farsightedness, wisdom and a special quality of leadership. To make a democratic turn of events can only be possible if the leadership has the interest of the people and demonstrate that by acting on the demands and obligations of the people. True leadership should work on political and socio-economic matters at grassroots level. The leadership must connect directly with people. As most voters have no access to social media, the UDC leadership should turn lap-top and mobile data off to meet and work with ordinary people and prospective voters in rural areas. They must borrow a historical leaf from the political legendary Dr Kenneth Koma` s legacy as to how he made BNF a resilient national movement. Regime change is not going to be a walk in the park or a fashion parade in Parliament and City Councils! To have a broad appeal, the UDC leadership should be both principled in their commitment to the tenants of social democracy and focused squarely on the pursuit of power, maintaining UDC`s position as a ‘government in waiting’. For and in the best interest of UDC, its general membership must have the courage to stand-up and speak loud against any leadership that they deem unpredictable. All the elements that are complicit and wedded to the central notions of parasitism and predatory opportunism should be moved out of the way of the people struggles and pass the baton to a successor that is really up to the job!
Che Gaontebale Mokgosi