It is now a vital time leading to the anticipated July 2022 BDP National Congress, a crunch time in the always turbulent political waters; where either one swim or sink. One Raymond Malinga looks daring while braving the volatile water waves and overlooking the depth of the pool from the edge- clad tightly with his red swimwear and explicitly putting on a cap written ‘DSG.’ This is the time where one asks if they are swimming into danger-that is sharing a pool with the sharks or failing, subsequently drowning.
Ok. Enough with the watery and slippery analogy and let us go back to the man of the moment, Malinga. He told the author he wants to be the “umbilical cord” with which will transport life with a fluid flow from the party central committee to even the lowest of the structures across the country.
As yours faithfully saw this self-baptism during an interview, evocation of moving swimming pool scenery came vividly live to a pen hence the use of the overly aquatic jargon above. However, the pun of “umbilical cord”, which seemed a special choice of word used by Malinga, should be replaced by pipe. Malinga The Piper, a man who thrive in connections or creating them from nowhere, is often remembered as a teacher who moved fluidly along labour movement ranks to take on radical positions at a gigantic and legendary bloc, Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU). He is now carrying a different cap.
Since the 2019 general elections where BDP triumphed convincingly albeit a strong force of opposition, an imaginary political opponent emerged from nowhere in the form of Covid-19 and took on the ruling party’s government. Serious task and all energy shifted from internal party politics to the national interest issue of life and death.
On social media, President Masisi’s image, which was obviously expected to brim with hope and confidence to blow up any fears of Covid-19 on the eye of widespread live broadcast of that time, was more at spotlight than of any politician. Something which MEK later acknowledged before journalists, Batswana replaced his announcement and solidarity messages with taunts, negative memes and satirical propaganda with expected and obvious jeers from the opposition. But Malinga and others clad their red berets tightly to their heads so that the social media wind may not take them away. They made sure the party remains intact and relevant, defending the President and the party on social media spaces.
Where was this fighting spirit coming from? Malinga reminisced the dark times where together government workers they took on the state in what known as ‘Mother of All Strikes.’ A lot of his peers then went into opposition politics and some even took stances to contest for national elections against the BDP. Malinga metamorphosed instantly since then, there emerge a staunch democrat.
Malinga, during the labour struggle, saw Masisi, then as the most senior minister, as a man who stood for his government, even braving the menacing public servants workers which took to the streets with a ‘No pay, No work’ message. Later, he and the President reconciled as they swam against the terrains of BDP national congresses to the divisive 2019 national election.
“I want to serve in the party’s secretariat. I do not look for positions but service. I want to serve BDP along and across all the structures, and I believe I should be an umbilical cord, a passage, of the party and members,” Malinga said in an interview.
The BDP secretariat has been quiet for a long time as the Secretary General and his deputy have been busy with ministerial and constituency tasks. The SG had a lot in his plate already too full which resulted in some within the BDP moved to challenge the food on the plate by announcing their candidacy beforehand. As for the Deputy Secretary General, DSG, the position Malinga aspires to hold, it has been almost docile for years and lost all the radicalism, pomp and fanfare of the Motswale/Ntuane era.
This is the space Malinga is willing to fill. “During my time as a trade unionist, I started as a shop steward. I was seen to be vital by those around me as they even asked me to contest for positions or I was made up to a position of Publicity Secretary from hardwork. And this was seen from my organisational skills at the time I organized sport tournaments on behalf of BOSETU,” said Malinga.
Malinga want to recall the energy he used to fight government for betterment of workers’ welfare to restore and reignite the ruling party from within. This would seem too much of a strain for some of his fellow democrats who leverage their credentials and relevance for candidacy on fame and incumbency.
Building structures and forging the moribund relations with workers, Malinga’s goal, a seemingly less capitalistic or democrat tone and having all the hallmarks of a socialistic hat as some may feel. Lingas, as he is affectionally known, will elaborate with his energy, body and hands that there is a need for relevance to the ground, especially him being from there, and a touch to the top table where he want to be.
In an interview the author attempted to take away his labour warrior hat, the now turned into a staunch and fearless defender of the ruling party on any grounds, be it social media or physical sphere, would stubbornly take it back. He was wearing it with pride and echoed MEK’s RESET agenda within the party and its general influence.