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22 Apr 2019

After Kang, the salvoes have silenced down – somewhat.

It’s important however to highlight that it will not be for long.

For now it seems like the much predicted and anticipated Armageddon was a wild exaggeration.

The ruling party went to Kang and came back from Kang in one piece.

No apocalypse happened.

The much predicted end of earth has not happened.

If reports are true millions were spent for an apocalypse that never took place.

What a waste of resources!

Starting sometime in 1998 the world prepared for what was to be called Y2K.

We were told that those who were not Y2K compliant would experience a computer meltdown on the New Year’s eve of 2000.

Billions across the world were spent preparing for Y2K.

Botswana did not want to be left behind.

A steering ministerial committee was formed to coordinate Botswana’s efforts towards Y2K.

The committee if I’m not mistaken was led by one Joy Phumaphi.

Expatriate computer specialists were hired and ferried into Botswana at immense cost.

There was only one goal – to avert and save Botswana from impending computer Armageddon.

As it turned out Y2K was a global scale hoax.

The year came and passed and the sky did not fall.

So too has been the case with Kang.

We were told that the sky would come down on the rest of us immediately the ruling party met in Kang.

Yet Kang happened and even fizzled out in the air.

In fact Kang turned out to be a hoax – a damp squib.

But for President Mokgweetsi Masisi there is scarcely a room for complacency.

In the more distant horizons there is a stormy crisis gathering pace.

When it finally lands on shore it would make Kang look like a storm in a tea cup that it really was.

If the build-up to Kang was characterized by uncertainty and anxiety, this year’s General Elections will be preceded by incendiary political exchanges characterized by intolerance never before seen in the history of this country.

The air is already soiled.

As we speak there is a raging debate on the utility of a public statement that was made by the Botswana Congress Party leader about Masisi.

Masisi should expect more of the same. And worse!

Increasingly, Botswana politics are getting ever rich with tinder. Whether it is the governing party or the opposition, sanity is acutely in short supply; across the board.

The two sides have become mirror images of each in their growing intolerance of alternative views, in their pettiness and in their polarized world views.

Inevitably in our society, pragmatism like honesty is on the retreat.

It is a currency that has been losing political capital.

Our people have become mini-despots against each other.

Point scoring, together with self-righteousness are on the rise.

National debate or public discourse has become impossible to conduct in the prevailing atmosphere.

Because people are afraid to express their views for fear of being personally attacked, a growing number of citizens are choosing to disengage.

It is a choice that comes with grave results.

But it guarantees them safety and some level of privacy. 

In that score Masisi needs to be more explicit with his policy.

Any room for it to be second guessed will lead to tragic outcomes.

Unlike Kang, unemployment in Botswana is not a hoax. It is real.

As we have said for too long now, in Botswana unemployment has become a tinderbox.

Unless it is addressed, the situation will forever stay volatile, precariously too close to the brink and not too far from bursting at the seams. 

There is absolutely no need for unemployment to be dramatized or be spoken of in hyperbolic terms for Government to be seen to be doing something about it.

The economy is at weakest. Economic hardship is biting. And because Batswana are hurting they can easily fall victim to quack doctors that promise to create one hundred thousand jobs in a week as some in opposition have been doing.

For Botswana the collapse of state institutions has been real.

As is the case with unemployment, on this one too, there is a growing public crescendo clamouring for expedient fixes.

We need long term fixes that are implemented orderly and with predictability.

A more charitable accusation that is sadly often made in condescending tones is that he appears to be all over the place in his strategy.

In that respect Masisi needs to do a better job to prove himself than he has so far done.

So far he has done absolutely nothing to strengthen oversight institutions.

Even such little task like putting in place all the oversight structures of the intelligence services (DIS) has not happened.

If the reform of the DIS is to be believed as genuine, it has to start with strengthening its oversight structures as envisaged by the law.

Masisi does not have infinite time to prove himself.

Up to now people have given him benefit of doubt because they have not liked the way his predecessor has meddled.

But that benefit of doubt is not a blank cheque.

It is not open ended.

Young people are especially agitated by their ever dwindling economic prospects.

They feel they have made too many sacrifices. And have not received anything in return.

For many of them it often feels like they are living in a country under managed decline.

Where all his predecessors had comfort zones, Masisi will with time, if he has not done so yet, discover that his job is one of the most difficult and most thankless.

He has to accept that new economic models are needed because past ones cannot contain the current emergencies.

Where in the past diamond sales were able to absorb pressures by using revenue from sales to put in places social contracts, those arrangements are no longer stainable because revenues have significantly been frayed.

Already he is under attack for globetrotting.

I cannot think of a more unfair accusation.

Given the international damage that Botswana has suffered under Ian Khama’s ten years I often get annoyed that Masisi is not travelling the world as frequently as he should to sell the story of this country.

Yet his detractors are already saying he should cut down his international travel.

We wish you all a happy and safe Easter weekend

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