Botswana: Expulsions to restore order (Editorial)
Posted by African Press International on October 5, 2008
Gaborone (Botswana) – The resignation of South African President Thabo Mbeki continues to be a source of consternation to South Africans and the international community.
Several members of cabinet have resigned in protest over Mbeki’s resignation. Our hope is that what is seemingly a political crisis will die down with the passage of days.
With the ruling African National Congress having recalled its president Botswana’s own Botswana National Front did not want to be out done. The BNF, which has always reminded all who care to listen that it, like the ANC and SWAPO in Namibia, is a mass movement made up of various interest groups. The BNF too claims to have generated policies that are deliberately left leaning. During the same week when the ANC national executive committee, which is largely made up of leftists made a decision to recall Mbeki, the BNF leadership too came out of its cocoon and flexed its muscles to expel some of its ‘errant members’.
Botswana is left with a year before the country goes to the polls. It is indeed, a major decision for an opposition party to fire a sitting member of parliament from within their ranks. Lobatse MP Nememiah Modubule, and perhaps with Gaborone South MP, Akanyanga Magama have been star performers in parliament who have given the BNF the much needed exposure and mileage.
There is no doubt BNF will miss Modubule’s contributions in parliament. As a group member of the party, Modubule has been expelled together with his PUSO party. This could have consequences for the party in the coming general elections.
Equally, Dr Elmon Tafa is not just a small fish in the politics of the BNF. He was understandably the party’s favoured candidate to contest in the Francistown South constituency, where he had already started campaigning. This might be a setback in the BNF’s campaign and fortunes in the coming general elections. In the BNF politics of the left Tafa, is considered one of the few who have ideological clarity and could defend the policies of the BNF with vigour. As a former chairman and convener of the BNF policy forum, the BNF could have lost a huge institutional experience.
The reality, however, is that the public and indeed, some members of the BNF are fatiqued by the BNF’s internal fights. There just has to be closure to this useless warring.
The endless BNF wars are partly to blame for the pervasive voter apathy in the country.
We do not know whether these expulsions are the remedy to the endless warring, but we know that it just has to end. There is no how this public institution can continue to be run by two factions. If talks, compromises and other forms of reconciliation failed there is just one modem, the Stalinist route as the leftist would call it. One faction will eventually have to submit to the other or the dominant one has to mercilessly crush the other. If this route, undemocratic as it might seem, offers the party stability and affords Batswana some peace and quiet, so be it.
Our hope is that the BNF has thought long and hard about these expulsions and are even prepared to live with the resultant ramifications.
api/source.Mmegi (Botswana) – September 25, 2008.