UDC problems can’t solved in 21 Days!
ISHMAEL JACKSON KOKO
The provenance of the BCP quagmire can be traced back to the 2014 General elections outcome which not only shocked the BCP rank and file but obliterated their confidence leaving only a vacuum to be later occupied by fear and uncertainty.
Obviously the dismal showing at the polls further accentuated by the loss of our Leader Cde Dumelang Saleshando was ascribed to our absence in the opposition coalition the UDC which had made history winning 17 parliamentary seats. As a consequence, BCP joined UDC and things instead of improving became worse. With hindsight not being part of the umbrella in 2014 was a mistake, but joining it post 2014 was an even fatal mistake, the first since of Adam at the Garden of Eden.
That the BCP is a party at crossroads has never been clearer. The impasse in the UDC due to the constitution, BCP's membership inter alia is an outlandish situation for kgololo. BCP prides itself with order, organisational harmony and policies that resonate with wishes and aspirations of Batswana.
For the party to be embroiled in protracted conflicts bringing uncertainty and anxiety to its members is unprecedented and embarrassing to be polite. It is time the BCP acknowledges that the UDC they thought they joined is not the one of today, its time they acknowledge that Advocates for Change is actually Advocates for Chaos.
The horse has bolted, ITS OVER, pull out of this toxic cohabitation and live to fight another day. In the onset, we made painful concessions, relegating the party to the north and effectively rendering it a regional party, we only have 1 constituency in the south of Botswana and also 1 in the cities being Francistown East.
We opted not to miss the forest for the trees as State power was a reality under the pre Pilane UDC. Now with hopes of state power extinguished, our membership of the coalition being questioned and denied what in God's name are we doing in the UDC? Only insanity can occlude a man from walking away after being turned down by a woman for two years.
It’s been almost 2 years since the Oasis Motel press conference announcing the BCP’s entry into the Umbrella yet we still are (apparently) not recognized by the constitution. The UDC VP Advocate Pilane's political turpitude leaves Satan Jealous. The way he stole BMD with dogs, security agents and of course the constitution was as diabolic as it was egregious and should have served as an augury of what’s to come.
He is a man on a mission, a destructive mission and care less of eventual casualties. He does not care if the Umbrella burns provided he becomes President of the ashes. By being entangled with this 'constitutional despot' the BCP is not just playing with fire, it is literally soaking matches in gasoline.
Pilane has nothing to lose, he will relish at the prospect of a protracted court battle which will not only delay the 2019 General elections campaign but impugn the character and credibility of the UDC. It is hard to put a dog on a leash once you have put a crown on its head, thus it is futile not to mention perilous for the BCP to believe it can tame or even deal with this man. We have a lot to lose and time is our chief enemy.
Then there is Hon Boko, the UDC leader. We can all accept that the political 'bromance' between Duma and Dums was as fleeting as it was insincere. The BNF leader is deceptive and untrustworthy, his vagaries ever since the infamous BMD Matshekge congress exposes a man at best captured or at worst uninterested in changing government.
This is the same man who promulgated that UDC has the power to replace a weak candidate of a contracting party by a stronger candidate from another contracting party, we all watched in dismay when a weak BMD candidate cost UDC victory at Moshupa/Manyana. Hitherto, BMD has no candidates in some constituencies and weak candidates in others including suspended BDP youth wing members and the UDC leader has not acted.
It seems he long took Cde Saleshando's advice, 'To best remain silent'. How he managed to inveigle BCP leaders by signing a disputed constitution 5 months later is inexplicable but more inexplicable is how the BCP and BNF conferences could not decipher that the last minute constitution was intended to placate them and circumvent a resolution of pulling out of the beleaguered coalition.
The BCP is in a quandary, the trauma of 2014 is still fresh, and the fear of walking out of UDC and being branded enemies of unity is palpable. Doubt is the biggest enemy of man, fear is the biggest enemy of a party. The fear has blinded the BCP to even the obvious. First, we are said to be not inside the UDC hence we can never be accused of pulling out from a coalition we were never part of. The UDC VP, who is actually its defacto leader has said that repeatedly on national radio accompanied by his chairman.
The spiritual leader of UDC Johnson Motshwarakgole has also asserted the same aphorism and not to be out shined, the convenors of UDC were recently enjoying their 20 mins of fame that they so year for on radio averring that BCP is not part of UDC. The only leader who we naively believe can defend our situation is conspicuous by his silence and was rumored out of the country when the knives were and are still out for us.
Secondly, there is already a party which quit the UDC in Alliance for Progressives (AP) lead by Hon Ndaba Gaolathe. The AP has never been bashed for their stand and seem to have found favor with key union leaders. By dumping this unholy union we will be assuming the position already occupied by AP, we can never be isolated alas 2014. Thus I fail to see how we will be crucified for a position another party is being lauded for. That will be taking hypocrisy to the zenith level by our 4th estate. Lastly and most importantly, the UDC of today is not the UDC of 2014.
It no longer has the support of both the private press and BOFEPUSU, it houses a hugely unpopular leader in Advocate Pilane who is not only distrusted by Batswana but also unwanted by them and it’s less a vital cog in its machinery in the form of Hon Gaolathe and his lieutenants. The recent success in bye elections by the UDC ought to be credited to the presence of BCP, we bring the most numbers in the coalition yet we get fed crumbs, get disrespected, our leader frustrated and ridiculed by a man leading a shell. How long is the BCP prepared to endure this journey to nowhere and mortification. It is time to choose the correct path out of this crossroads, which is the only path at our disposal in all honesty. PULL OUT, and live to fight another day.
The BCP is a party born from severe labor pains to a hostile political environment. Fighting a cultist figure in Dr Koma, the party was shunned by both BNF and BDP, A paradoxical alliance was forged between the ruling party and main opposition crystallizing in a motion to ban floor crossing by then MP Gladys Kokorwe. The motion was disingenuous, it was meant to kill baby BCP in its crib rather than to right a wrong hence the non-implementation of the motion to date.
With such odds stacked against it, the BCP persevered and grew to be a key player in our politics. It can be concluded that the BCP is now the single largest opposition party in the country commanding over 20% popular vote. The time is now for Kgololo to disinter that assiduity, bravery and self confidence in its mission, vision and policies that allowed it to weather the storm it faced at its infancy and become the fastest growing party in our land.
The BCP members jealously love and protect their party, they are loyal to their brand, a brand which has been besmirched and soiled for far too long. Painfully for them the leadership's plans to restore the BCP to its rightful place as the party of choice has been desultory at best.
The BCP must forget about UDC membership. If it couldn't be fixed in 2 years it won’t be in 21 days. It’s never late to mend. The BCP must PULL OUT from this toxic alliance and ready itself for going solo in the upcoming General elections. Dignity, peace and tranquility must reign again in the Lime movement.
Ishmael Jackson Koko writes from Gaborone Central
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The case for Botswana to ratify the ACDEG
The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) is the most comprehensive dataset measuring African governance performance through a wide range of 81 indicators under the categories of Security & Rule of law, Participation, Rights & Inclusion, Foundations of Economic Opportunity, and Human Development. It employs scores, expressed out of 100, which quantify a countryâ€™s performance for each governance measure and ranks, out of 54, in relation to the 54 African countries.
The 2022 IIAG Overall Governance score is 68.1 and ranks Botswana at number 5 in Africa. In 2019 Botswana was ranked 2nd with an overall score of 73.3. That is a sharp decline. The best-performing countries are Mauritius, Seychelles, Tunisia, and Cabo Verde, in that order. A glance at the categories shows that Botswana is in third place in Africa on the Security and Rule of law; ninth in the Participation, Rights & Inclusion Category â€“ indicating a shrinking participatory environment; eighth for Foundations of Economic Opportunity category; and fifth in the Human Development category.
The 2022 IIAG comes to a sweeping conclusion: Governments are less accountable and transparent in 2021 than at any time over the last ten years; Higher GDP does not necessarily indicate better governance; rule of law has weakened in the last five years; Democratic backsliding in Africa has accelerated since 2018; Major restrictions on freedom of association and assembly since 2012. Botswana is no exception to these conclusions. In fact, a look at the 10-year trend shows a major challenge. While Botswana remains in the top 5 of the best-performing countries in Africa, there are signs of decline, especially in the categories of Human Development and Security & Rule of law.
I start with this picture to show that Botswana is no longer the poster child for democracy, good governance, and commitment to the rule of law that it once was. In fact, to use the term used in the IIAG, Botswana is experiencing a â€śdemocratic backsliding.â€ť
The 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) had Botswana at 55/ 100, the lowest ever score recorded by Botswana dethroning Botswana as Africaâ€™s least corrupt country to a distant third place, where it was in 2019 with a CPI of 61/100. (A score closer to zero denotes the worst corrupt and a score closer to 100 indicates the least corrupt country). The concern here is that while other African states are advancing in their transparency and accountability indexes, Botswana is backsliding.
The Transitional National Development Plan lists participatory democracy, the rule of law, transparency, and accountability, as key â€śdeliverables,â€ť if you may call those deliverables. If indeed Botswana is committed to these principles, she must ratify the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance (ACDEG).
The African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance is the African Union’s principal policy document for advancing democratic governance in African Union member states. The ACDEG embodies the continentâ€™s commitment to a democratic agenda and set the standards upon which countries agreed to be held accountable. The Charter was adopted in 2007 and came into force a decade ago, in 2012.
Article 2 of the Charter details its objectives among others as to a) Promote adherence, by each State Party, to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights; b) Promote and protect the independence of the judiciary; c) Promote the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation, transparency, access to information, freedom of the press and accountability in the management of public affairs; d) Promote gender balance and equality in the governance and development processes.
The Charter emphasizes certain principles through which member states must uphold: Citizen Participation, Accountable Institutions, Respect for Human Rights, Adherence to the principles of the Rule of Law, Respect for the supremacy of the constitution and constitutional order, Entrenchment of democratic Principles, Separation of Powers, Respect for the Judiciary, Independence and impartiality of electoral bodies, best practice in the management of elections. These are among the top issues that Batswana have been calling for, that they be entrenched in the new Constitution.
The ACDEG is a revolutionary document. Article 3 of the ACDEG, sets guidance on the principles that must guide the implementation of the Charter among them: Effective participation of citizens in democratic and development processes and in the governance of public affairs; Promotion of a system of government that is representative; Holding of regular, transparent, free and fair elections; Separation of powers; Promotion of gender equality in public and private institutions and others.
Batswana have been calling for laws that make it mandatory for citizen participation in public affairs, more so, such calls have been amplified in the just-ended â€śconsultative processâ€ť into the review of the Constitution of Botswana. Many scholars, academics, and Batswana, in general, have consistently made calls for a constitution that provides for clear separation of powers to prevent concentration of power in one branch, in Botswanaâ€™s case, the Executive, and provide for effective checks and balances. Other countries, like Kenya, have laws that promote gender equality in public and private institutions inscribed in their constitutions. The ACDEG could be a useful advocacy tool for the promotion of gender equality.
Perhaps more relevant to Botswanaâ€™s situation now is Article 10 of the Charter. Given how the constitutional review process unfolded, the numerous procedural mistakes and omissions, the lack of genuine consultations, the Charter principles could have provided a direction, if Botswana was party to the Charter. â€śState Parties shall ensure that the process of amendment or revision of their constitution reposes on national consensus, obtained, if need be, through referendum,â€ť reads part of Article 10, giving clear clarity, that the Constitution belong to the people.
With the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance in hand, ratified, and also given the many shortfalls in the current constitution, Batswana can have a tool in hand, not only to hold the government accountable but also a tool for measuring aspirations and shortfalls of our governance institutional framework.
Botswana has not signed, nor has it acceded or ratified the ACDEG. The time to ratify the ACDEG is now. Our Movement, Motheo O Mosha Society, with support from the Democracy Works Foundation and The Charter Project Africa, will run a campaign to promote, popularise and advocate for the ratification of the Charter (#RatifytheCharter Campaign). The initiative is co-founded by the European Union. The Campaign is implemented with the support of our sister organizations: Global Shapers Community â€“ Gaborone Hub, #FamilyMeetingBW, Botswana Center for Public Integrity, Black Roots Organization, Economic Development Forum, Molao-Matters, WoTech Foundation, University of Botswana Political Science Society, Young Minds Africa and Branding Akosua.
Ratifying the Charter would reaffirm Botswanaâ€™s commitment to upholding strong democratic values, and respect for constitutionalism, and promote the rule of law and political accountability. Join us in calling the Government of Botswana to #RatifyTheCharter.
*Morena MONGANJA is the Chairperson of Motheo O Mosha society; a grassroots movement advocating for a new Constitution for Botswana. Contact: email@example.com or WhatsApp 77 469 362.
The Taiwan Question: China ramps up military exercises to rebuff US provocations
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has violated the One-China policy, and caused the escalation of tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Experts and political observers across the spectra agree that Pelosi’s actions and subsequent pronouncements by US President Joe Biden gave impetus to an already simmering tension in the Taiwan Strait, provoking China to strengthen its legitimate hold on the Taiwan Strait waters, which the US and Taiwan deem as ‘international waters’.
Pelosi’s visit to China’s Taiwan region has been heavily criticised across the globe, with China arguing that this is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US Joint Communiqués. In response to this reckless move which seriously undermined China’s sovereignty, and interfered in China’s internal affairs, the expectation is for China to give a firm response. Pelosi visit violated the commitments made by the U.S. side, and seriously jeopardized peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
To give context to China’s position over Taiwan region, the history behind gives us perspective. It is also important to note that the history between China and Taiwan is well documented and the US has always recognized it.
The People’s Republic of China recognises Taiwan as its territory. It has always been the case even before the Nationalist Republic of China government fled to the previously Japanese-ruled Island after losing the civil war on the mainland in 1949. According to literature that threat was contained for decades — first with a military alliance between the US and the ROC on Taiwan, and after Washington switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979 by the US One China policy, which acknowledges Beijing’s position that Taiwan is part of One China. Effectively, Taiwan’s administration was transferred to the Republic of China from Japan after the Second World War in 1945, along with the split between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) as a consequence of the Chinese Civil War. Disregarding this history, as the US is attempting to do, will surely initiate some defence reaction on the side of China to affirm its sovereignty.
However, this history was undermined since Taiwan claimed to democratise in the 1990s and China has grown ever more belligerent. Furthermore, it is well documented that the Biden administration, following the Trump presidency, has made subtle changes in the way it deals with Taipei, such as loosening restrictions on US officials meeting Taiwanese officials – this should make China uneasy. And while the White House continues to say it does not support Taiwanese independence, Biden’s words and actions are parallel to this pledge because he has warned China that the US would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan – another statement that has provoked China.
Pelosi, in her private space, would know that her actions amount to provocation of China. This act of aggression by the USA seriously undermines the virtues of sovereignty and territorial integrity which has a huge potential to destabilize not only the Taiwan Strait but the whole of the Asia- Pacific region. The Americans know very well that their provocative behavior is deliberately invoking the spirit of separatism masqueraded as “Taiwan independence”. The US is misled to think that by supporting separatism of Taiwan from China that would give them an edge over China in a geopolitics. This is what one Chinese diplomat said this week: “The critical point is if every country put their One-China policy into practice with sincerity, with no compromise, is going to guarantee the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” Therefore, it was in the wake of US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, that China, in a natural response revealed plans for unprecedented military exercises near the island, prompting fears of a crisis in the Taiwan Strait and the entire Asia-Pacific region. The world community must promote and foster peace, this may be achieved when international laws are respected. It may also happen when nations respect the sovereignty of another. China may be in a better space because it is well capacitated to stake its territorial integrity, what about a small nation, if this happens to it?
As to why military exercises by Beijing; it is an expected response because China was provoked by the actions of Pelosi. To fortify this position, Chinese President, Xi signed a legal basis for China’s People’s Liberation Army to “safeguard China’s national sovereignty, security and development interests”. The legal basis will also allow military missions around disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping. In addition the legal changes would allow troops to “prevent spillover effects of regional instabilities from affecting China, secure vital transport routes for strategic materials like oil, or safeguard China’s overseas investments, projects and personnel. It then follows that President Xi’s administration cannot afford to look weak under a US provocation. President Xi must protector China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, of which Taiwan is a central part.” Beijing is very clear on One-China Policy, and expects all world players to recognize and respect it.
The People’s Liberation Army has made it clear that it has firepower that covers all of Taiwan, and it can strike wherever it wants. This sentiments have been attributed to Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the PLA Navy Research Institute. Zheng further said, “We got really close to Taiwan. We encircled Taiwan. And we demonstrated that we can effectively stop intervention by foreign forces.” This is a strong reaction from China to warn the US against provocation and violation of the One-China Policy.
Beijing’s military exercises will certainly shake Taiwan’s confidence in the sources of its economic and political survival. The potential for an effective blockade threatens the air and shipping routes that support Taiwan’s central role in global technology supply chains. Should a humanitarian situation arise in Taiwan, the blame would squarely be on the US.
As China’s military exercises along the Taiwan Strait progress and grow, it remains that the decision by Nancy Pelosi to visit China’s Taiwan region gravely undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sent a wrong signal to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. This then speaks to international conventions, as the UN Secretary-General António Guterres explicitly stressed that the UN remains committed to the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758. The centerpiece is the one-China principle, namely, there is but one China in the world, the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and Taiwan is a part of China. It must be noted that the US and the US-led NATO countries have selectively applied international law, this has been going on unabated. There is a plethora of actions that have collapsed several states after they were attacked under the pretext of the so-called possession of weapons of mass destruction illuminating them as threats – and sometimes even without any valid reason. to blatantly launch military strikes and even unleash wars on sovereign countrie
Internal party-democracy under pressure
British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: “If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.”
The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties — ruling and opposition.
As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.
We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.
Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswana’s democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.
Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogae’s assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values. This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.
Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in the Bulela Ditswe dispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.
Bulela Ditswe was an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.
Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.
We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties – ruling and opposition — have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.
These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.
Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.
The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.