The year 2011, for Botswana, can best be described in the Dickesian poetic suave that characterises the opening of the acclaimed novel ‘A tale of two cities.’ The literature nerds would know what I am talking about. And yes, like in Britain and France there was a King (President) with a square jaw and unlike Britain and France there was no queen. But who cares about that right? Personally, I don’t and I doubt you do too. The year 2011 was a year of great reckoning and great bravery. It was an age of great political awakening for many. It was a defining period for Botswana politics and a precursor to the 2014 general elections.
As winter ushered itself in, a great revolution was in the offing. I can imagine the King with square jaw in his palace must have regretted the day he signed the law granting public workers the right to Unionize. I can imagine him turning pink with his double chin shaking as he seethed with anger. As the year drew to a close and the subsequent years leading to the 2014 elections, the political climate in the country went under some seismic changes. The trade union movement, especially the one inclined to the public service, would lay the ground work for an opposition coalition which would be christened the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). For once a change of government at that moment seemed like a plausible idea as evidenced by the poll returns. Save to say the failure of the BCP to join in the coalition helped the BDP to regain victory from the jaws of defeated and marginally so.
Another effect of the post 2011 era and especially the post 2014 elections era has been the arrogance that has come to characterize those within the leadership of the UDC. It is this arrogance that has brought the coalition to its knees. Unlike the UDC of 2014, the current UDC albeit led by the same people has been nothing but a cesspool of men overestimating their self-importance. Just like very politician in Africa, they have displayed a level of arrogance where they see themselves as demi-gods. The messiah syndrome has been their weakest point. Even as the BDP (almost) self-imploded, the UDC lacked the leadership and strategic vision to take advantage. Maybe the UDC is to Botswana politics what Vanilla Ice is to Hip Hop, a one hit wonder. Or maybe what Liverpool has been, for the past three decades, to football; flattering to deceive.
There is a difference between confidence and arrogance. There is a lack of humility within the UDC fold as compared to the 2014 election. This lack of humility is symptomatic of the arrogance that has come to characterize the UDC and its leadership. This has led to the coalition to lose credibility and public confidence. There is an elitist and authoritarian air that has come to characterize the UDC leadership. They are under the illusion that they are the messiah that was promised, the Azor Ahaiif you will. This arrogance has been the downfall of the UDC. If you want to see clear example of this arrogance, then you should look to the behaviour of its leader Duma Boko. His utmost disregard for the laws of this country have been well documented albeit being a lawyer (advocate) himself. I refuse to believe that BURS have an agenda against him lest to say the timing was rather unfortunate for him. His declaration that he “will swipe another car” after his Range Rover was attached by BURS showed, to me, a man lacking in humility and full of arrogance.
For many who are reading this article and being within the UDC fold, I am a BDP sympathiser or, as they would say, a BDP-proxy in the name of the AP. This deflection is symptomatic of people who are not willing to take responsibility or at the very least introspect in light of criticism whether it is warranted or not. Their disdain for criticism is equal and often worse than of the BDP which they often criticise for its intolerance to criticism; talk about the kettle calling the pot black.
The point I am trying to make is that the UDC through its arrogance and the elitist behaviour of its leadership has lost the moral compass upon which it was drawn. What is beyond doubt is that they have lost the aura that the UDC was born with. In the midst of the chaos that has characterized the coalition in the past few months or years, its leadership has failed to do the one thing they were expected to do, lead. The chronic indecisiveness of its leadership has been another reason for its downfall. However, when taken from a macro-level, its down to one thing and one thing only; Arrogance.
To save itself, the UDC needs to go back to its founding principles and promises. It has to introspect and remove the stumbling blocks (its current leadership) out of the way for it to prosper. Anyway, this is wishful thinking on my part. None of them are willing to step aside until they have a taste of state power. To them that is the goal, personal goal, and it has nothing with general public good. There is enough talent within the UDC to lead the coalition in the absence of the current leadership. Unless they are too arrogant to believe that the coalition is all but doomed without them.