The Botswana National Front (BNF) has been following the events in the Middle East with a keen interest. It has to be understood that what has happened in Tunisia and is now happening in Egypt is a sign that the People want to take control and determine their destiny. There are also signs that other countries which have not known genuine democracy are also on the brink of experiencing the People’s revolution. The Tunisian Jasmine Revolution has set the tone. The political, social and economic realities of the middle east have been altered. We are hopeful that the "Front of January 14" which is a front formed and led by the left parties of Tunisia will not allow this to be just another revolution in vain. The revolution should not start and end with people taking to the streets. The people should feel the fruits of their uprising and sacrifices. It should not be about replacing one looter with another. There should be a complete change in the political, social and economic structures.
The people are rising because they feel their interests are not being taken care of. The lack of democratic space and unfair distribution of resources has given room to these uprisings. The Egyptians and Tunisians are taking charge and not allowing the elite to act and decide on their behalf. They have seen what can happen if you allow such a situation to prevail, where you just vote and seat back. It is not like the Egyptians are not aware that elections are due in September. They lave lost confidence in elections because they say, “this is the revolution of the people who are hungry; this is the revolution of the people who have no money against those with a lot”. The events elsewhere in Africa have obviously made them see elections as a farce. Ivory Coast, Kenya, Gabon etc being good examples. There is now a stalemate in Ivory Coast even after the people have spoken. What the Egyptian state, parliament and judiciary have failed to carry out on behalf of the People is now being carried out by the people themselves. It debunks the myth that only the state, parliament and judiciary are the only arms that provide for checks and balances in government. The people are asserting their authority and supremacy. The people’ revolution is for sure not going to stop until those who shun democracy leave office. The tone has been set and the world will never be the same again. This is a lesson for other dictators. These events are going to inspire others who are oppressed and bring about more openness in undemocratic societies. Egyptian leader and former air force officer, Hosni Mubarak who came into power in 1979 after the assassination of Anwar Sadat currently enjoys the support of the army but this has not stopped the people from taking to the streets to speak out against injustices perpetrated by Mubarak and his allies and call for their immediate evacuation from office.
Mubarak should give up power and allow for peace and change. Because of his over obsession with pursuing his personal interests, he will not realize that the capitalist system that has propped him up over the years will suffer if he does not go. It holds true that the system is pregnant with the seeds of its own destruction. The situation will deteriorate and the oil prices will go up. This will not be good for the capitalist dominated global economy as the rise in fuel will affect the economic recovery as inflation will go up. The US which has been providing financial assistance of about US$ I.5 bn per year to Egypt is not happy to see crude oil prices go up. This will slacken recovery at a time when the Obama administration is under pressure to grow the economy with presidential elections not so far off. The US foreign policy in the middle east is now at crossroads because of the people’s uprising. US stocks suffered the biggest one day loss in nearly six months while the crude oil prices have gone up. Probably sensing that the their ally, Mubarak is likely to suffer the Ben Ali fate, the US has asked the Mubarak regime to avoid using force against its people. Just to ensure that they are on the side of the people. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government should have its voice heard and be on the side of the people. They went against the SADC consensus on Zimbabwe and recently invited Alassan Quattara to Botswana on a state visit at a time when other countries are busy trying to find a solution to the Ivory Coast impasse. While the Botswana government foreign has lately been to break ranks with the rest of the region and shout and make their views heard without due consideration, they have been quiet on Swaziland, which still remains undemocratic and continues to detain political and trade union leaders. The inconsistency of its foreign policy is disturbing. It emphasises the view that they are a regional proxy of the West.
These events in Tunisia and Egypt are also going to change the geo-political landscape of the middle east. The Egyptian leader helped a lot in ensuring that Israel continues to persecute the people of Palestine. Egypt was the first Arab state to sign a peace agreement with Israel. Winds of change are now blowing though the region and there is a glimmer of hope for the liberation of the Palestine people.
The Mubarak regime is collapsing because it failed to fully empower and develop its people. We at the BNF have always maintained that the resource that has to be empowered and developed is the people. It is the empowered and fully developed people who will in turn develop the country. By this we mean an all rounded development; political, social and economic. If this does not happen then the people will rise up and put right what is wrong. It might be delayed but it can not be stopped. People have to also share in the prosperity of their country. They have to benefit from whatever stake is there in the country otherwise that very stake is itself threatened. This is the advise we can give to the dictators and opponents of democracy, social and economic justice.
BNF Information and Publicity Secretary
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