ANC/BDP newfound love affair

12th September 2017


By Ernest Moloi -

Let us consider this. African National Congress holds its first consultative conference in exile in Lobatse, Bechuanaland Protectorate around the same time that Nelson Mandela is arrested at a roadblock in Natal, following a tipoff from a CIA informer. This should be August 1962. The conference is attended by the ANC leaders of the External Mission, such as Oliver Reginald Tambo and its leaders at home who also doubled as members of the Communist Party of South Africa, among them, Moses Kotane, Govan Mbeki (Thabo’s father); Tennyson Makiwane who it is speculated was recruited to join the (later) SACP by Joe Slovo’s wife and journalist, Ruth First.

ANC’s president-general Chief Albert Luthuli is under house arrest at the time while Mandela has been arrested and both cannot attend. The conference is seized with the contentious and divisive issue regarding circumstances surrounding the declaration of the armed struggle earlier and the recruitment of cadres. At around the same time, Botswana Democratic Party is formed in 1962. This is before independence.

I suppose the party has no clout whatsoever, as to who comes into the land and who goes out. The tribal chiefs rule the roost at this time. In short, BDP is not the party in government. This only happens after the 1965 general election, which BDP wins by an overwhelming majority consequently consigning a fragmented Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) formed much earlier in 1960, to opposition ranks ad infinitum!

In 1966 BDP assumes the reins of government and can from thence lay claim to shaping the country’s administration across all sectors. In the interim period of 1962 and 1966, a sea change of events of political significance happen in Azania. Not least, the campaign by Lt. Willen Van Wyk and his agents, who on 11 July 1963 identifies a farmhouse – Lillisleaf - in Rivonia, just outside Johannesburg initially rented by Arthur Goldreich, as the headquarters not only of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, but also, the headquarters of the banned Communist Party of South Africa.

During that raid, Umkhonto we Sizwe’s battle-plan, ‘Operation Mayibuye’ falls into enemy hands, while leaders of the Underground army are arrested. This event triggers what would later become famously known as the Rivonia trials. Fast forward to August 26, 2017 some 55 years later, ANC has had an epiphany of sorts and dispatches its general secretary Gwede Mantashe to come and acknowledge Botswana’s inseparability with ANC’s efforts for the total liberation of Azania! But in a twist of fate, they choose the occasion of BDP’s 55th Anniversary celebrations in Serowe, the baNgwato capital and home of Botswana’s founding president, Sir Seretse Khama, to announce this publicly.

No doubt, this is a major victory for BDP, which has since that infamous Julius Malema episode, when the then ANC youth firebrand disparaged Botswana government as a “puppet” of the British, consorted intimately. That Malema scare culminated in his axing from the ANC and the formation of the ultra radical Economic Freedom Fighters while here at home, Kagiso Ntime, formerly of the Botswana National Front’s youth wing, bolted to join the ruling party. Such are the vicissitudes of life! So emboldened was President Lt. Gen.

Ian Khama that he literally instructed ANC’s emissary, then Treasurer, Matthew Phosa, now a presidential hopeful, during BDP’s 50th Anniversary, to take care “of their dog” because they had taken care of theirs! Political parties have this tendency to distort history in their vain attempts to manipulate and shape events in their favour. Sadly, history is a record of past events.

It ought to be predicated in its proper context. Kgosi Linchwe II of baKgatla baga Kgafela played a major and decisive role in the liberation struggle of Azania, which contribution was publicly acknowledged by then President, Thabo Mbeki. Any mention of monument building to honour the gallantry and valour of liberation fighters must consider the efforts of such unsung stalwarts. It must not be made on the altar of political expediency by desperate monolithic powers struggling to remain relevant in a new epoch.

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