There is no doubt that this year’s electoral results in terms of which the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) lost four seats in Parliament, with its leader, Advocate Duma Boko, losing his seat, calls for its rebirth.
This, because Botswana, like all democracies, need a strong opposition if the ruling party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), is to be put on check, lest it becomes complacent to the detriment of our democracy. When the UDC was born just before the 2014 general elections, it raised hope among hundreds of thousands of Batswana who voted for it in large numbers, giving it 17 seats in Parliament. In fact, as some opine, were it not for the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), which selfishly decided to contest outside the UDC, the UDC would have won the elections or at least caused a hung Parliament.
So real was the possibility of the UDC attaining state power that the BDP developed strategies which included endearing itself to trade unions and the media, especially after His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, came to office. It was because of the UDC’s potency that the BDP itself went through a rebirth, something which paid dividends because were it not for the formation of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), the BDP would have won forty-one of the fifty-seven Parliamentary seats on offer.
On the contrary, the UDC dug its own grave, something which was bound to result in the dismal performance it suffered at the hands of the BDP this year. The UDC failed to timeously intervene in the conflicts bedeviling its member, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), claiming that it had no right to intervene since the BMD is a separate legal entity. For about three years, the UDC did nothing when the BMD was self-destructing, the result being the infamous Bobonong congresses, whose bloody confrontations resulted in a split which resulted in the formation of the Alliance for Progressives (AP).
Even after this, the BMD continued to be marred by conflict, but the UDC stood idle only to act decisively in 2018 by expelling the BMD. But, it was too late for then began a protracted mudslinging battle from which the UDC never recovered. The court case which ensued from BMD’s expulsion did not help the situation for it created in many Batswana’s minds the impression that the UDC is an unstable political party which can not be trusted with state power.
This is perhaps the reason why the Botswana Federation of Public Service Organizations (BOFEPUSU) did not endorse it this year, something which was read by some as a vote of no confidence. Meanwhile, the BDP under H.E Dr. Masisi was on the rise with its new found ‘CAVA’ brand and charm offensive on trade unions, public servants, the media, et cetera unparalleled.
H.E Dr. Masisi’s public relations machinery, both at Tsholetsa house and at Government enclave, presented him as though he was the progenitor of consultation or therisano. This worked in the minds of many Batswana who were yearning for that after ten years of what many regard as autocratic rule by former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
On the eve of the elections, a debate for political party presidential candidates, which was expected by many to boost the UDC’s prospects of winning the elections, turned into a nightmare for the UDC when there was an outcry at the verbal and non-verbal communication used by Advocate Boko, which many regarded as uncouth. When, on 24th October, the electoral results were announced, not only did the UDC emerge as the greatest loser, its leader, Advocate Boko, lost his seat. So too did the leader of the AP, Ndaba Gaolathe.
Of course, the UDC cried foul, claiming there was wide spread electoral fraud and rigging by the BDP. If this is true, it is yet to be proven before the courts of law. Almost immediately after the results, some voices of dissent began emerging from the UDC and the Botswana National Front (BNF). One such was Advocate Boko’s deputy at the BNF, Reverend Dr. Prince Dibeela, who blamed Advocate Boko for UDC’s loss.
This is understandable considering the extent to which the BNF lost Parliamentary seats compared to its coalition partner, the BCP. While the BNF won a mere five seats, the BCP won a whopping eleven seats. This is impressive for a party which won only three seats in 2014. Also, to add salt to injury for the BNF, its leader, Advocate Boko, who has been the Leader of the Opposition (LoO) in Parliament, lost his Parliamentary seat. On the other hand, the BCP president, Dumelang Saleshando, won his seat and is likely to be the LoO in Parliament when this Parliament resumes business.
Among the allegations Rev. Dr. Dibeela levelled against Advocate Boko are that he neglected his own party, the BNF, resulting in the collapse of its structures, hence its dismal performance compared to the BCP. Rev. Dr. Dibeela also blamed Advocate Boko for being an authoritarian who makes decisions to the exclusion of the party and coalition’s leadership and/or overrules the majority’s decisions as he pleases. He gave Advocate Boko’s refusal to expel Advocate Sidney Pilane from the BMD, something which resulted in the BMD debacle getting out of hand.
You would recall that long before the elections, the BNF Veterans’ League expressed misgivings about Advocate Boko’s leadership, citing almost the same reasons as the ones proffered by Rev. Dr. Dibeela. There was a time when there were rumors that the UDC leadership, including Advocate Boko’s deputy at the UDC, who is also BCP president, Dumelang Saleshando, were not privy to the coalition’s funding sources. While one may not ascertain the allegations against Advocate Boko, it is clear that the UDC needs a rebirth.
If it is true that Advocate Boko has acted as he is alleged to have acted, there is something wrong with the UDC and the BNF. It is not understandable how one person can run the show and lead the whole movement to such an abyss? Is it not because the rank and file abdicated their constitutional responsibilities? For instance, one wonders where such vanguards of the movement as the Youth League and the Women’s League were when the movement lost direction, allegedly because of one man.
As a coalition of leftist political parties who believe in democratic centralism, one would have expected the UDC and BNF to prevail on Advocate Boko and bring him to line in as far as the bottom-up approach to leadership is concerned. Perhaps one lesson the UDC and the BNF need to learn is that personality cultism in terms of which the leader is treated like a deity and becomes bigger than the collective is to be shunned at all costs because it invariably produces autocrats.
Fundamental to such leftist movements as the UDC and the BNF is the concept of self-criticism and self-correction. Clearly, this virtue has been relegated to obscurity. Without suggesting that the African National Congress (ANC) has done better in that regard, one may nevertheless urge the UDC and the BNF to borrow a leaf from the ANC’s ‘Through the Eye of the Needle’ pamphlet for if it did it would have self-corrected in time to avoid the abyss it fell into.
Self-correction would have enabled the UDC and the BNF to deal with the BMD saga and the Advocate Boko issue in time to avoid costing the whole movement as it just did. In order to facilitate its rebirth, the UDC needs to convene a National Congress as soon as possible whereat self-criticism would prevail, the preferred result being a change in not only the movement’s strategy and tactics, but also in the movement’s leadership.
Perhaps one reason why the UDC performed so badly this year is that since it was formed it has never conducted a democratic election of its leadership. The leadership positions were attained and/or assigned by compromise. In my view, Advocate Boko has to take a dignified bow from the leadership of both the UDC and the BNF. By so doing, he would give way to someone who may give a breath of fresh air to the movements, thereby strategically placing them for the 2024 elections.
No doubt, from an intellectual point of view Advocate Boko has what it takes to take any movement to the greatest of heights, but he has lost too much political credibility and capital that he can only remain at the movements’ helm at the masses’ expense. The leadership of the Youth League and Women’s League too have to take a bow for they failed to play their vanguard role when the leadership led the movement astray. The UDC and the BNF also have to revert to the situation where the party is mainly funded by the members, not by anonymous individuals and/or organizations who often high jack the leadership in order to further their own interest.
There is a saying in South Africa which avers that, “the White man has no kin: his kin is money”. The saying rings very true considering what Mayer Amschel Rothschild – he of the planet’s wealthiest family – once said, that, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!”
To the white man, the dollar sign looms so large in his optics that it was precisely the reason he appropriated Africa towards the end of the 19th century. The idea was to develop his continent, Europe, at the same rate as he underdeveloped Africa. Yet he was driven as much by economic imperatives as by sheer greed and prejudice.
A “pagan” King violates the Jewish Temple by setting up an idol in the Holy of Holies
Why, General Atiku, has the Judean setting (present-day Israel/Palestine) being the focus of so much geopolitical fervour over the ages when it is so resource-poor and is not even that agriculturally fecund being a virtual desert? Why have all the superpowers of history locked horns over it since days immemorial?
Just a ‘teaser’: we are all complaining of the ‘hot weather’ and ‘heat’ – but think about it, is this a reminder / warning from the Almighty that if we find this weather ‘hot’ can you imagine what the ‘fires of hell’ will be like should we get there?
Let us take this as a reminder and a ‘warning’ that we should change our lifestyles so that we follow in the path of righteousness and that which our Lord has directed. Failing this we will face the ‘fire of hell’ which undoubtedly will be many times worse than what we are facing on this earth.
Because as humans we have been favoured and bestowed with the power of intellect thus we enjoy greatness over other creation, coupled with a greater responsibility. Should that responsibility be misused then only on the Day of Reckoning will he know we will live in joy or in grief forever.
Since the dawn of creation Allah has sent down thousands of messengers, dozens of Divine Books but only ONE universal Message to humanity. That message of Divine Revelation and guidance is clear, unambiguous and eternal:
Allah is One, He is Master and Creator of the universe and of mankind and to Him is due all worship and obedience.
He has sent humanity Divine Revelation and guidance through His Messengers and His Books.
As death is inevitable in this world, equally is our resurrection in the Hereafter where everyone will face the consequences of their belief, unbelief and conduct in this temporal world.
This is the basic message, teaching and belief of every religion and without doubt we will all be called to account for our lives in this world and the manner in which we conducted ourselves, will be rewarded thereafter, the consequences of which may be joy forever for some or grief forever for others.
“It is He [Allah] Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deeds and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Qur’an: 67: 2)
In Islam the teachings of the Qur’an and the Last and Final Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) give clear guidance to the believer on how to live a life in this world so as to achieve success in the Hereafter.
‘If any do wish for the transitory things of this life, We readily grant them, such things as We will, to such persons as We will…… those who wish for the things of the Hereafter and strive for them with all due striving, and have faith, they are the ones whose striving is acceptable to Allah’ (Qur’an 17: 18-19)
In this world when a person sets out on a journey towards our Maker (Allah), he finds two paths, one leading to God and the other path to different destinations. A sincere and faithful believer will always try to find the right path and to live by the Divine injunctions, laws and code that his religion lays down. This requires us to live in harmony with the will of the Creator, in harmony with our own selves, and with the needs of the rest of creation. Unfortunately we have a tendency at times to toy with Divine Law and to surrender it to the laws of man and in the process to translate and interpret them into what fits in with our lifestyle of today.
If we are to use the intellect and the freedom of choice bestowed to us by God Almighty and follow His guidance, we will then live consciously in a state of “submission’ to Him, thus we will be virtuous. On the other hand when we ignore our Creators injunctions we work against the natural order, we tend to create discord, injustice and evil – and we become one without guidance. Therefore it is the intellect and the freedom of choice given to us that we are fully responsible for whatever we do.
However, it would be foolish for us to think of ourselves as totally independent and self-sufficient. If a person thinks in this manner, we become proud and. We will be inclined to become ungrateful for the bounties that we enjoy – the air that we breathe and the food we eat to sustain us, the eyes and ears we use to perceive the world around us, the tongue and lips we use to express our needs, wants and our inner most feelings and emotions. And being ungrateful, we will be inclined to forget or to reject the truth of the existence of God Almighty.
Unfortunately, people have varying views with regards to what the most important characteristic of a person is: for some it is the colour of his skin; for others, it is his economic situation – whether he is wealthy or poor; others think it is his , social or political standing, whether he is ruler or ruled; for others it is his social standing as an aristocrat, middle or working class; yet for some is his birth place and the language he speaks or the tribe he belongs to, etc..
‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe”, and they will not be tested? We tested those before them, and Allah will certainly those who are true and those who are false’. (Quran 29: 2-3)
In Islam, these have no significance rather they are merely taken as signs of the creative power of God to enable people to recognise one another. The Almighty declares “O Mankind! Indeed we have created you as male and female, and have placed you in nations and tribes that you may have mutual recognition. However, the most honourable of you, in the sight of Allah is the one who is most God-conscious” (Qur’an: 49: 13)
Hence, the most important characteristic of a person is whether he is conscious of his Creator, believes in Him and through that consciousness submits to Him at all times and in all circumstances.
According to the Islamic view man is created by Allah in a pure state, free from sin. He also created us with the capacity or power to do both good and evil. He gave us the freedom to choose between doing good or evil. The good and evil therefore is connected with mankind’s freedom of choice and responsibility for their actions. “Good” may be whatever is pleasing to Allah and therefore beneficial to us. Whereas “Bad/evil” may be whatever incurs the anger of God and is therefore harmful to man.
‘By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he that succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it….. (Quran 91: 7-10)
Therefore one of mankind’s main tasks is to keep away from and ward off evil. This is why Taqwa, piety and God consciousness is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an as the most important quality a person should develop in this regard. This means one must be conscious at all times not to over step the limits set by God. It works as a defence against evil and temptation by keeping a person within the boundaries of piety.