-Political narcissism is developing within Botswana's body polity
The problems in the UDC boil down to a lack of strategic leadership which must be focused on the vision, mission, strategy, goal, and objectives of coalition politics.
This is according to Adam Mfundisi of the University of Botswana (UB) when analysing the infightings in the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) which have led to the suspension of the president of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Dumelang Saleshando, and the party secretary-general, Goretetse Kekgonegile.
“A cult of leadership is upon the UDC formation and if not attended to soonest it will destroy the movement. BCP and BNF are at it again after the disastrous Palapye elective congress in 1998 which led to the formation of the BCP by disgruntled members of the Botswana National Front (BNF),” Mfundisi said.
He blamed the leaders of the two parties for not having learned from the 1998 debacle which led to the failure to capture power at that time. The BNF is led by Duma Boko who is also the president of the UDC with Saleshando as the deputy leader of the UDC.
Mfundisi is worried that “political narcissism” is developing within the body polity in Botswana. In his view, this is because the country's socialisation has developed leaders whose desire for money and power is unprecedented.
They are driven by power, entitlement, authority, and prestige, among other pathologies. They are conspicuous dictators and are surrounded by sycophants that would not dare challenge the autocrat.
Strategic leadership demands that those in authority should be exemplary and display no superior attitude or arrogance. This is according to Mfundisi who also noted that because every vote counts, every political party in the coalition is indispensable and must be treated as such.
“An authentic leader must be ready to follow others, must be stern but not bloodthirsty. Humility is a value rather than a curse,” the UB Don said.
Mfundisi’s suspicion is that conflict of interest was a factor in what he says was a rush decision to suspend the two leaders of the BCP from the UDC. According to Mfundisi, strategic leadership demands the application of the principles of natural justice.
“One cannot be a judge in his or her own court. Fairness demands that the accused be provided with ample time to deal with the accusations levelled against him or her,” Mfundisi said, adding that the UDC leadership should have sought third parties to mediate and reconcile the warring parties or engage other persons or elders in the Botswana opposition landscape.
Mfundisi’s position is that the leader of the Botswana Peoples’ Party (BPP) should have used his status as an elder and acted as a neutral and objective mediator in the UDC internecine wars.
It is Mfundisi’s view that complaints by the BCP on the way the UDC is managed should have been debated and a give-and-take position taken.
“At the surface, the complaints seem genuine. A cult of leadership is undesirable for a coalition formation and democratic processes need to be in place to resolve issues in the UDC.
“There is a need for a conflict resolution mechanism set within the UDC collective to deal with future problems. The suspended leaders must use constitutional and political processes to appeal their suspensions.
“As representatives of the BCP in UDC NEC, they should consult with their members and get the mandate on what to do,” advised Mfundisi.
He believes that genuine grievances must not be ignored by the collective leadership. Mfundisi would like the suspended leaders and the other UDC parties to avoid public spats with the other UDC parties.
He said that it might take time and effective leadership to resolve the current impasse because the warring parties have entrenched positions that seem irreconcilable now.
“BCP and BNF are the major political parties in the UDC and have everything to lose if the UDC fails. Every party is indispensable in the UDC,” he noted adding that, if the ongoing political rivals are not reconciled the image of the UDC as a 'people’s project' rather than that of the leadership will be dented.
Meanwhile, Boko has earned the title, ‘expelling president,’ for his tendencies to expel, suspend parties or their leader, among the Botswana National Front (BNF) Veterans League.
The veterans are meeting in Mahalapye to discuss the affairs of the BNF as well as those of the UDC. Speaking to this publication, the chairman of the BNF Veterans League, Patrick Kgoadi said that the suspension of the two BCP leaders was both ill-advised and unconstitutional.
“Most of the demands by the BCP, such as those pertaining to the democratisation of the UDC, are shared by individuals across the political divide and other political parties here.
“Unfortunately, Boko, whose actions are driven by self-preservation, sees things differently,” said Kgoadi who would like the people to be accorded a forum to discuss the future of the UDC.