BCP leadership may call me a prophet of doom or whatever they prefer to call one like me, but the truth is that BCP leadership is slowly but surely squandering the goodwill of its supporters and symphathisers. The language used by some of their leaders and activists against UDC is shockingly rude and misguided.
If this continues, very soon the 140 000 people who voted for BCP will find new suitors. There is however, still a glimmer of hope, a small light at the end of the tunnel which hopefully will be taken advantage of before it extinguishes and before the last vestiges of hope evaporate forever into thin air.
Three weeks ago, Professor Zibani Maundeni penned an article in the weekend post of the 15-21 November, 2014 premised fittingly on the emerging revolution movement and a seemingly confused counter revolution movement that is sweeping across the country.
A revolution which he believes should have been driven by a unitary force under the umbrella; a resolute revolution that sought ‘democratic restoration, economic revival and a clean government; A calm revolution that sought to restore the dignity of our people by creating opportunities, rewarding jobs and providing adequate land for all our people.
This article was by no means a comprehensive and holistic academic assessment of the 2014 general election. Such would have been a more rigorous assessment with much more detail for universities and certainly not written for a newspaper like the weekend post.
This was an informed observation, by the learned professor for most people in Batswana who are lay persons. Certainly not for decorated academics like Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who in the following week in the same newspaper launched the most untypical venomous attack on Professor Maundeni and his credentials.
The attack was uncalled for and left many aggrieved and wondering as to what is happening to the BCP top leadership. Some of the BCP people, we have come to admire because of their seemingly level headedness and generous wisdom have degenerated in level of thinking. This negative and worrying behavior has been consistent since the elections. After their Palapye retreat, the behavior instead of softening has become even more virulent, narrow and self-damaging. This consistent trend is worrying and needs to be reversed.
It looks like Dr. Gobotswang, like some of his colleagues are annoyed by the truth they confuse for lies. Professor Maundeni stated the truth summarised in part herein. ‘BCP was swept away partly by a revolution it refused to join. BCP became a victim of circumstances which its visionaries failed to see and its policy makers failed to prepare for.
BCP has instead unleashed its activists to attack the UDC, the private media and the trade unions. BCP is now presented with another opportunity to join the revolution or miss out yet another chance presented by history and risk being swept away completely,’ This is the truth, nothing but the truth, that annoyed Dr. Gobotswang and necessitated his vicious, callous and uncouth attack on the professor.
In his response in the WeekendPost of 22-28 November, 2014, ‘when a decorated academic speaks like a lay person – the case of Professor Zibani Maundeni’, Dr Gobotswang who is also an academic totally misses the point and goes out on a total tangent and condemns the professor for failing to unpack the revolution and its material conditions.
I wonder why the good doctor did not do that himself as an academic. Professor Maundeni did not author a thesis or an academic paper to be found in academic journals and or used in lecture rooms. The article was meant for the lay persons who I am sure understood the professor. I do not know how many people understood the good doctor’s response.
The good doctor is bending the truth when he says; it was a lie to say BCP withdrew from umbrella 2 talks. Nobody ever said BCP walked away from the umbrella 2 talks. This is gross hallucination. What has been said and is the truth is that BCP walked away from the umbrella talks because of disagreement on five if not two constituencies. BCP did not finish the umbrella talks, which talks they initiated and embraced as the only plausible way of effecting ‘regime change’.
They agreed with the unions and the other opposition parties that this was the only way. They further said anyone who will walk away from the talks should be punished by the voters. This is nothing but the truth. The reasons advanced for the so called collapse of the umbrella 1 talks are pathetic and childish by any reasonable standard.
That is why the other parties continued the difficult talks and succeeded. BCP must own up and tell the nation the real reason for withdrawing from the talks. Do not tell us about the letter that was signed. To many of us, it was part of a grand scheme to deceive the nation and waggle out of the talks for reasons only known to BCP. I will hazard a guess later in this submission.
He further says it was a lie to say BOFEPUSO supported UDC. Who did BOPEPUSO support? Is it not true that the majority of BOPEPUSO membership and leadership supported UDC? They may have been some who supported BCP or even BDP and this is quite normal in a democratic dispensation.
However, the majority has the last word and in this case they unequivocally supported the UDC. This is the unfettered truth. They say the truth sometime hurts, but I say it only hurts those who are alien to the truth; those despite all the clarity of facts put on the table, continue to deny these facts.
The doctor, trivialises the origin of the umbrella idea by saying it was their idea in 2007 and 2011. Yes it was their idea and others bought into it, so what. Why did they walk away from their own brain child? Why are they still consulting about their own brain child? Why? Why? Why? Why all this fuss?
Why did they say during the elections that BNF will seize to exist after the elections? Can we assume that killing BNF was part of BCP’s grand plan when it gave birth to the umbrella idea? Was part of the reason for BCP walking away from the Umbrella talks not the realisation that they were not going to be able to manipulate Cde Boko and kill BNF? Was the other reason not the fact that they realised they will not be able to take the leadership of the UMBRELLA party? The truth comrades!
Comrades, my brothers, my sisters and fellow citizens of character, BCP has been very manipulative and this time they have been found out, really wanting. They must admit it, own up and rejoin BNF and UDC! This is the only way they will redeem themselves and survive beyond 2019.
BCP has been saying UDC has lied about BCP. This cannot be farther from the truth. BCP seem to confuse the truth with lies and lies with the truth. This I suspect is deliberate and meant to confuse our people. Let us look at some of their election messaging and judge for ourselves whether they lied or they told the truth.
This will also help us to understand whether BCP is justified in saying UDC peddled lies or is BCP blatantly lying to the nation to tarnish the image of UDC for selfish reasons? Truth no.1: BCP failed to complete the journey towards forming the umbrella party they originated on account of disagreement on five if not two constituencies. Is this not true? Yes or no.
Truth no.2: BCP through its leader said whoever fails to complete the journey towards forming an umbrella party must be punished by the voters; the voters obliged and punished him and his party severely. Is this not true? Yes or no.
Truth no.3: As part of its campaign message BCP said they were the champions of opposition unity because BCP has several parties under its umbrella. The truth is that they swallowed these smaller parties well before the umbrella talks in question began. So why did they start these talks if they wanted to stand alone in their own umbrella?
Do I detect some serious insincerity within BCP leadership? Can we then not logically conclude that BCP was on a mission to swallow the remaining three parties and when they realised it was not going to be so, they quit. The unity talks were only about four parties, so why would BCP be talking of being the champion of opposition unity when they walked away from the only national unity talks we all know about. How disingenuous!
Truth No 4: As part of their campaign message, BCP branded Cde Boko and UDC as the same as BDP. If this is not a lie, then I do not know what a lie is. Any reasonable person who understands our politics will never accept this as the truth. How deceitful. What shameless propaganda!
Truth No. 5: As part of their campaign, they said there where the only party that was going to bring jobs and provide land by a ‘land audit’. They were the only party ‘ready to lead’. Anyone who is discerning enough will know that they were no real difference between BCP and UDC policies. The differences were shallow and cosmetic. Batswana are no fools and can spot a difference when there is one.
Truth No. 6: Where are the shadow ministers? What was the real purpose of this? How do you have shadow ministers outside parliament? Shadow ministers are drawn from parliament to counter government ministers. Was this not another grand scheme to hoodwink Batswana into falsely believing BCP was a government in waiting not UDC? This makes me think BCP is a very disingenuous party.
There is more. They keep on saying they championed a clean campaign during the elections? Really! Not if the above are true. They even joined BDP in demanding the Motswaledi’s report, when they knew very well that the investigations were not yet concluded.
Where is the declaration of assets promised by the BCP leadership? Was this just an ill-conceived idea or was this yet another dubious attention seeking grand scheme by BCP leadership?
This is the counter revolution Professor Maundeni was talking about. BCP is fighting an enemy that does not exist. The really enemy is within BCP especially its leadership. The sooner they realise this, the sooner the revolution towards authentic change, calm change, people’s change can be consolidated. Lies as they say have short legs, they will not go far, they will come back howling and haunting the perpetuator! I said at the beginning that there was a glimmer of hope. This comes from three factors discussed below:
Firstly, I am encouraged by the BCP leader, Dumelang Saleshando who since coming from the Palapye retreat and some of his colleagues since the elections, have not attacked UDC, the union or the press, although they have not condemned the vicious attack on the UDC leadership by the party activists. I assume they are taking serious stock of what happened and considering the road ahead for BCP. I must remind them though that the road ahead without UDC will be full of thistles (very thorny and prickly plants). Please avoid that road as it will lead to the sad extinction of very able and promising young politicians.
Secondly UDC leadership has not responded to the increasingly provocative and viral insults from BCP activists since the election. UDC have been generous, magnanimous and showed true leadership. They must remain steadfast in the face of these attacks. They must not be moved by these attacks and they must stay focused on the many important challenges facing this nation under the BDP misguided rule.
Thirdly, the general UDC members have been very accommodative of BCP insults and are encouraging each other to allow BCP to ‘mourn and heal’. They are hopeful that soon they will understand that their problem is not the UDC. They still believe in their heart of hearts that they belong together with BCP and that BCP will come back and join UDC in order to face the BDP together. The attacks on UDC by BCP are viewed as unfortunate and ill advised.
Having said this, the goodwill is slowly dissipating and soon BCP will be regarded as an enemy of the people. Our people are hungry for change and come 2019 they will make change happen with or without BCP. By then many ordinary members of BCP will have joined UDC, if the leadership remains outside the umbrella.
In conclusion, there is a clarion call for opposition unity under the umbrella. Batswana for many years have called for this unity. We cannot force BCP to join the unity movement or the revolution as seen by professor Maundeni. We will however, continue to encourage them to do so because it is the right thing to do. Our God fearing people will watch closely and we will not allow BCP to mislead this nation anymore.
Politics should not be for the manipulative, calculating and dishonest people, it should be for God fearing people who are prepared to serve the people honestly and diligently; people who will tell the truth no matter how difficult. Moses said to his people, ‘choose for yourselves wise, understanding and experienced people among yourselves and I will appoint them as your leaders.’
True leaders will acknowledge their failures, pick up the pieces and move on. True leaders do not look for escape goats when they fail; they look from within, determine the cause of action and act graciously.
Bernard Busani can be contacted at Email: bernard.busani@ gmail.com Cell: 71751440
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.
Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.
One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumer’s piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswana’s, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.
When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they don’t imagine that their one download will do anything to the production house’s pocket or make a dent in the actors’ net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musician’s music or a short film produced locally.
The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.
The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that “illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth”.
As Botswana’s creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africa’s respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.
When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswana’s economy are being diverted.
“Why can’t our local creative industry grow?” “Why don’t we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana?” are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswana’s local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.
Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.
This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the country’s economy.
So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, it’s imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economy’s growth.
Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artist’s music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana
This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world. By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy. But the people of Ukraine are resilient.
They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world. The United States, together with our Allies and partners across the globe, will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country. By choosing to pay for a war instead of investing in the needs of Russians, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a strategic failure for the Kremlin and ravage the future of the Russian people.
When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left the West more unified and Russia exponentially weaker.
United in Our Response
This will not end well for Vladimir Putin. Together, the United States and our Allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable. As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.
President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology. After Putin began his invasion, the ruble hit its weakest point in history, and the Russian stock market plunged.
Along with the United Kingdom and European Union, the United States imposed sanctions on the architects of this war, including Putin himself.
By moving in close coordination with a powerful coalition of Allies and partners representing more than half of the global economy, we have magnified the impact of our actions to impose maximum costs on Putin and his regime. In response to Putin’s war of choice, we will limit Russia’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars.
We will stunt Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military. We will impair Russia’s ability to compete in the global economy. And we are prepared to do more.
In addition to economic penalties, this week President Biden authorized an additional $1 billion over the $350 million of security assistance he recently approved, and a $650 million in 2021, to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to $2 billion.
We also stand ready to defend our NATO Allies. President Biden has coordinated with Allied governments to position thousands of additional forces in Germany and Poland as part of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense.
He authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. Our Allies have also added their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense. There should be no doubt about the readiness of the greatest military Alliance in the history of the world: NATO is more united than ever.
The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies. We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.
Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War
This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time. He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border. He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.
He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our Allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.
Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do. We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas. We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine. We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.
Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there. We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.
And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law. Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine. Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.
We have been transparent with the world. We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up. Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.
Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever
Putin’s goal of dividing the West has failed. In the face of one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our Allies and partners have joined together in solidarity. We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provided assistance to Ukraine, developed a broad response, and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO.
Putin has failed to divide us. Putin has failed to undermine our shared belief in the fundamental right of sovereign nations to choose their destiny and their allies. And Putin will fail to erase the proud nation of Ukraine.
The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine. Putin has unleashed great suffering on them. But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.
The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.
Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically. The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.
Liberty, democracy, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression. In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake: Freedom will prevail.