The Brutal Truth About Elections 2019

In Serowe and its environs, they said “Eseng mo go Kgosikgolo”. South of Dibete responded: “Eseng mo ngwaneng wa rona. Ntshang ditedu mo ngwaneng!” The charlatans do not like this reality.
The Republic of Botswana has just emerged from the 12th general election which the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) won convincingly and emphatically. This was the fifth general election which the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) conducted.

Since establishment of the IEC in 1998 and its first oversight in the 1999 and up to the 2014 elections, there has never been any petition or litigation against election results, let alone its legal standing and existence. The first petitions and litigation of this year’s election results are a first of its kind and something alien to our democracy. There is always a first and a start to something. This first cut, which is the deepest, may be attributed to the maturity of our political consciousness as a people, the deepening of our democracy, the insincerity of our political leaders, and last but not least, the trust in our judiciary as the last line of defence when people’s liberties and rights are perceived to be trampled upon with impunity by organs of state.

The insincerity of our opposition political head honchos may be that they fear to make a thorough introspection of what might be the reasons for such a debilitating loss when victory was purportedly nigh. When everybody was waiting with baited breath for the post-mortem of the elections from our political leaders, mostly from the main opposition party, the Umbrella for Democratic Change, (UDC) what we heard from their quarters was a different tune in the form of a cacophony that this nation is not familiar with. The UDC and the BPF patron, Ian Khama, are crying about a “massive electoral fraud” that is purported to have been committed mostly in constituencies south of Dibete that the opposition viewed as its strongholds.

Vox populi, vox dei (The voice of the people is the voice of God). This Latin adage simply means that the will of the majority of the masses is the will of God. It means that if the will of the people (the proletariat), even if it may be viewed by the enlightened as sheer buffoonery, should be respected and upheld. This is what the main opposition party in Botswana, the UDC, is failing to do, hence they are putting the integrity, professionalism and independence of the IEC under intense scrutiny. But the opposition principals are winking in the dark. If it is true that there was massive electoral fraud in the just-ended elections, it does not need a political leader to tell the electorate that. The electorate would, in their own volition, take to the streets to demand their rights. They would have known better and have concrete evidence to present to their leaders to prove to all and sundry that indeed the elections were rigged.

Since the official announcement of the election results, the opposition leaders have been trying hard to incite the people into an intifada but have failed dismally. People are relaxed, albeit with some anxiety because the opposition has managed to confuse and convince a few. The serenity that is currently prevailing in the midst of this political storm in a tea cup is that Batswana have a deep trust in their electoral process. The fairness, freedom and the credibility of an election is in the trust and confidence of the electorate in the electoral process. And if truth be told, our electoral process is the most transparent in Africa, if not in the whole world. Our electoral system is impregnable to any outside interference. Any person who has had any interest and partook in our election processes can attest and accede to that. Any person who cast aspersions on our electoral process now when it has matured is being dishonest, hypocritical and disingenuous with themselves.

What is also a glaring quandary in the UDC calculus is that the elections were purportedly rigged only south of Dibete where the BDP made the election contest a walk in the park on a Sunday morning. The BDP painted Botswana south of Dibete red with historic margins. The UDC’s argument is that where they won, they won fairly and they know the reasons why the won. Because they cannot rationalise their loss south of Dibete, the results therefore smack of rigging on a massive scale. They might have had a leg to stand on if they challenged the entire result. As it is, they are playing up to the gallery, which is tantamount to a solitary Lionel Messi displaying his sublime skills to an empty Camp Nou Stadium. This can also be aptly summarised by our age old proverb, “Ke bo-seila kgaka senwa moro.” Ga ke je kgaka mme nka’a nwa moro wa yone. It is an oxymoronic and parasitic rationale.

If we were to give the UDC the benefit of the doubt, it would be that if indeed there were irregularities in the elections, they happened coincidentally and were never meant to disadvantage anybody. They happened across the board even where the opposition won. Any event of the magnitude of national elections will always have some problems and irregularities but they would never alter the end result. These are too infinitesimal to make any meaningful impact. And anybody who has ever won an election in Botswana which was conducted and supervised by the IEC should not throw any stone because they are living in a glass house. Casting aspersions on the IEC  now is as good as saying your previous electoral victory was illegal and illegitimate. If there is a chance that the IEC can rig elections, it stands to reason that they have been doing it all along. Therefore, any person who has won any previous election benefitted from that fraud, be it Ian Khama, Dumelang Saleshando, Dumalisile Boko, Biggie Butale, or Dorcas Makgato.

The ‘comrades’ are playing a zero sum game where there is no ultimate winner. They are fighting for political preservation and survival and are trying to muzzle debate as to what might be the real reasons for such voting patterns. They know the reasons but do not want the reasons advanced in political debate and in the public space. They want us to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil for their selfish convenience and expediency. In this they want us to speak against our own conscience. Kingdoms, empires and nations have been brought down by such lies. We should never tire of speaking the truth even if it is unpalatable to some egos.

Our political leaders would rather quote Blackett, Aristotle, Plato and many philosophers to divert attention from the real issues of our times. Because they claim to be the Solomons of our times, we still await the timeless quotations that they will bequeath this great nation. They should stop playing smart Alecs. This is how the just-ended elections were won and lost: In Serowe and its environs, they said “Eseng mo go Kgosikgolo.” South of Dibete responded: “E seng mo ngwaneng wa rona. Ntshang ditedu mo ngwaneng!”  This is the brutal truth that does not augur well with opportunists and charlatans.