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Bootlicking is a dangerous culture of sweet talk that has over the past decade been cultivated mainly in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to the detriment of the party and the country. President Masisi unfortunately is also a self confessed bootlicker. In a video clip which went viral sometime back on Facebook, President Masisi said “I'm not only bootlicking at Domkrag, I also bootlick royals. I wonder where your future lies if you are not a bootlicker, who is going to save you!’
Seeking personal interest at the expense of national interest will only result in derailment of the country. This culture has to be nipped in the bud because apart from stifling proper discourse, it also leads to the establishment of a culture of fear as those who criticise the president face punishment or become derision to the country.
Going forward, one can only hope that Masisi has washed his hands from the past and moved on from such servile behaviour. Political commentator Ogone Selootso who spoke to The Telegraph said “Bootlicking to a certain extent contributes to the failure of a nation because bootlickers hardly criticise their superiors but want to be affectionate to them all the time.”
She said he also recalls how Masisi praised former President Khama’s leadership as “perfect” and could not find a blemish in him. She also says she hopes the President will not expect such flattery from his cabinet as the country is currently at crossroads. ”The President cannot afford to have cheerleaders to shower him with constant and unnecessary praise whilst ignoring the economy which is in dire straits,” she said.
Ministers are advisers of the President in certain ways and therefore should not mislead him by showering him with praises instead of being truthful about issues that are critical to the development of Botswana.
With regards to his leadership skills, Selootso said he hopes the President takes time to listen rather than just imposing his ideas on people as we experienced under former President Khama’s rule. “The success of Masisi as President and Botswana as a country depends on his character as a leader – if he is the type that listens, is all knowing or self-centered like his predecessor.”
With the current challenges the country is facing, there’s an urgent need for the President to re-evaluate his policies and begin to initiate well thought-out policies, to forestall any further dip in the economy. Already, Botswana is suffering from double standards with regard to the war against corruption and alleged money laundering; the main reason it has caught the attention of the US government.
However Selootso says he is hopeful that President Masisi will do much more to improve the business environment as that is where jobs are going to come from. “A much broader solution for the unemployment crisis comes from the private sector. However the private sector argues that government is yet to introduce reforms to the business environment that will allow it to function as it should,” he says.
In a genuine democracy, cabinet ministers and public servants must give objective advice regardless of the thinking of their state presidents. This has not been the case in Botswana for the past ten years as most ministers did not have the guts to face the president and advise him to chart a new course.
President Masisi must be told the truth and nothing but the truth. For a rational mind, it is easy to see that those who are into the bootlicking game are people who feel insecure about themselves. Our chief want as a country are leaders who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. Although one of the Botswana objectives must be to construct a platform from which the young generation can build from, bootlicking will only result in the young generation inheriting a mettle of ashes because cheering a leader while everything else around us is collapsing is retrogressive. The politics of patronage in Botswana will destroy this great country unless this trend is stomped.
The country’s economic fortunes are losing headway on a daily basis and life for the ordinary citizen is becoming extremely agonising. It remains to be seen whether the current leadership will manage to snatch the country from jaws of malfunction and steer the country to a radical new paradigm of economic dynamism and national revival.
The time has now come for President Masisi to refuel his agenda to transform the nation and reinvent himself as an effective leader who could provide the expected deliverables. The President must recalibrate himself to be able to face the overwhelming challenges successfully. He needs to repackage his agenda to address the immediate needs of the people.