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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

What does "mature politics" look like?

Like this wonderful example from Botswana :

President Ian Khama on Saturday 'ambushed' the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in the heartland of Tswapong. In an unusual move, Khama turned up unannounced at a BCP rally at Borolong. Not only that: restraint was exercised by both sides when the BCP accorded Khama the opportunity to speak and Khama used the opportunity to show a touch of diplomacy.....One of the officials who had addressed the rally in Borolong was BCP Vice President, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang, one of the fiercest critics of Khama's government. Gobotswang told Khama in Borolong that the BCP had nothing personal against him but that their concern was the manner in which Khama ran the government......Before closing their rally, BCP officials handed the microphone over to Khama to respond to some of the concerns raised. Whereupon Khama gladly obliged, but was careful not to stir any controversy.


  1. Cho,

    I agree that this is a good example from Botswana, especially given tensions between State media and opposition party cadres there over the last week, as also reported by Mmegi:

    Of course I could take the cynical approach and conclude that Khama's arrival along with the TV cameras was a clever form of "damage control" which forced BCP speakers to share coverage they would otherwise have had exclusively to themselves, assuming of course that bTV were following their own policies on coverage of political events, but the optimist in me thinks even that supposition is a far better option than battling over media access.

  2. I have to say the media coverage is generally excellent especially on polling day.

    Nothing like our ZNBC!


    On a serious note, I have wondered though why the BDP continues to dominate Botswana politics. The theory goes that they have delivered year and year and the people are just "happy" with the BDP.

    I suppose I struggle with the idea that the system can be "contestable" but never changes government. I shouldn't really because it is no different from classic contestable product markets. It appears the BCP may never gain power but their presence is a disciplining device to the BDP. But then again, we have to ask why this only happens in Botswana?

  3. Cho;
    There other examples in the world of uninterrupted rule by one party in a multi-party system. Good examples are SDP in Sweden and the LDP in Japan and to a lesser extent the CDU/CSU in West Germany. In both Sweden and Japan the SDP and LDP ruled uninterrupted from 1945 till the late 90's. A simple explanation is that these parties tend to govern in conditions of relative long-term economic prosperity and stability so much that the populace identifies them as the 'party of govt'(positively). And once this is ingrained; the electorate fears rocking the boat if they were to opt for alternative parties. Anyway it does eventually happen especially when the economy tanks as it did in both Japan and Sweden.

  4. It certainly doesn't look like this:

  5. What an ugly incident! I must say though, pretty top notch reporting by Chibaula Silwamba there. The reporter was in the right place at the right time to witness events, but didn't rely on personal observation alone, giving the participants an opportunity to present their own interpretations of events. The photos themselves speak volumes as well and certainly prove that the reporter was witness to the whole incident. I am glad that no-one was seriously hurt, and that AVAP was there to prevent the fight from spreading, given the weapons apparently being carried by some cadres.

  6. You guys need to understand that Bostwana does not condone the unruly behaviour that we have in Zambia. If you’ve lived there, you’ll know that Ian is a military general always escorted by security and that Tswana’s respect their president, regardless of whom he may be. What they did not show you in Botswana is how many military or police personnel accompanied Ian to the rally and how regardless of the discontent the people attending the rally may have been feeling, how they are completely respectful and passive around the president. In Zambia, we have no respect! We insult the president and don’t care to give him a chance to respond to anything! When he does respond, we insult him further. Maturity comes with responsibility.

  7. Well Tswana Presidents behave with dignity. All our Presidents Have been:-

    1. A short tempered autocrat with a tendency to break down in public
    2. A showy braggart with a weird dress sense and afunny accent to boot who even stole a citizens wife
    3. a short tempered poor public speaker with a tendency of bloops blunders and spoonerisms
    4. A public relations disaster prone to make wild statements

    Can you respect any of these ? they all lack the gravitas of a Masire, the competence of a Mogae and the seriousness of a Khama.

    Our clowns must earn the respect first


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