Any functional democracy in the world exists because of the presence of the opposition. For most rulers in Africa, the presence of the opposition is a constant headache. African leaders always have a way of systematically causing the extinction of the opposition.
There is currently an ongoing dismantling of the Botswana Movement for Democracy by the ruling party. The earlier trend was an exodus of political activists from BCP to BDP and now the trend has shifted to BMD. By breaking apart parties that form the UDC, this is a way of strangle holding the opposition by the throat. This is one of the good ways of dislodging the opposition.
But it seems the opposition in parliament is doing very little to keep the attention of the public on their side. Regardless of where I fall politically, we need a good balance of political activity for the sustenance of a healthy democracy.
Parliament is the main battleground of political ideas. If the opposition cannot be heard in that forum, then there will be nowhere else they can be heard. This current parliament has the best brains in the opposition bench. They are finding themselves with a bunch of docile BDP MPs and that is when they could be raising a lot of dust.
The docility of the BDP camp in parliament should be giving the opposition sufficient ammunition to strike hard on the ruling party. But it seems the opposition MPs are not seeing this gap.
If there is any opposition MP we will forever miss would be the Late Honourable Maitshwarelo Dabutha. I am told he did not hold any high educational qualification. But the fellow was a rubble rouser. He was very good at exploiting the weaknesses in the ruling party.
Dabutha almost brought the Late Mompati Merafhe to tears on the floors of parliament. He exploited the weakness in the ex-general by condemning him for taking along with him BDF uniform upon his retirement. Merafhe had no way out as he got to the heights of anger and down to the depths of civility.
Bombshell as he was affectionately called, Dabutha always had a field day in parliament. He was always promising the BDP camp that he would be coming to drop a bombshell in parliament. And most of the time he did. Even when he had run out of ideas he would promise to drop a bombshell. At times he only managed to drop firecrackers but with almost similar effects because the ruling party had been anticipating a Hiroshima size bomb.
We are at a time when this country is beset by an array of manmade problems. This is a golden opportunity to showcase skill and talent in as far as debates are concerned.
The common excuse that the government is repressing the views of the opposition in parliament by denying them air time in the state owned television and radio is not convincing. Dabutha’s voice could be heard through the two private newspapers and no radio. There was a little window of speaking on radio by each MP after their speech in parliament. That is the ten minutes that the former Gaborone North MP exploited effectively.
The current opposition crop has better opportunities and they are not exploiting them to the fullest. They live in the digital information age where news spread in a few minutes and not hours. They can table private member’s bills and they are not doing enough in that area.
The issue of land is one area that the opposition has neglected. After two years in the current parliament, nothing has been shaken regarding the acute distress of the public in being allocated land within reasonable time.