Mr. President, stay strong through the turbulence

18 Jan 2019

If you listened to a certain section of the media, you would think there was some kind of national crisis. You would assume that we have a constitutional crisis. We don’t! There is only one president and his name is His Excellency Dr. Eric Masisi. Fullstop. He has the full powers of a sitting President. Ga se motshwareledi. Since he ascended to the highest office there has been a sustained attack, not only on him, but also on his party and government. Within six months of his presidency, he has already repelled a foolish motion of no confidence on him. Let no one try and rewrite history. Events of yesteryears are still fresh on our minds. Masisi’s presidency comes to us as a breath of fresh air, as a necessary reset button to save us from ourselves. We come from a difficult recent past. He is a great beacon light of hope in the vast menacing dark night of joblessness and hopelessness that choked many of our youths and young adults. For years our public sector was crippled by unending acrimony between the unions and government. Our education was systematically decimated by years of neglect. Years of unbridled corruption, covered like multiple puss-filled boils, reached an explosive level. Poverty came upon us like a thief and scarcity like a bandit. Quett Masire was right. Our Ipelegeng was nothing more, but a mere Mpepu. Let no one try and rewrite history.

We come from the dark caves of limited media freedoms, from the blood stained soil of Kalafatis crying out in the streets. We come from years of unimaginable and unnecessary fear of DIS. Masisi is here. He stretches his arm of friendship and invites all to the table. He calls foe and friend. Like the Biblical Nehemiah, he wants to rebuild the broken walls. He understands the wisdom of the words of his forbearers who armed with a body of dog-hunting experience observed that setshwarwa ke ntsapedi ga se thata. Those who came before him left an idiom behind, that tau e senang seboka e siiwa ke none e tlhotsa. As a people, we can achieve much by working together. We lose nothing by consulting our people. Masisi has revived our hope in the future of our country – that meritocracy means something; that education, innovation and creativity matter; that anybody can become something when they work hard. We too feel we have a chance – that this country doesn’t belong to a selected few with a certain surname; that true to the words of the national anthem: Fatshe leno la rona; ke mpho ya Modimo; ke boswa jwa borraetsho. It is this that he is being persecuted for. It is for this reason that the fabricated story of the slaughter of 87 elephants has been carefully woven by evil men and women and spread on the international media. This president who has given us such liberties is now called by some a dictator. A president who has appointed men and women from “minority” groups into his cabinet and into key government positions, including to the position of Vice President, is today termed a tribalist. In this post-truth period, it is as if our nation’s naysayers live in some mythical land created by them. They refuse to see. They cover both their eyes with their two small hands to hide away from the truth around them.

Mr. President, in light of sustained criticism, you have a country to govern. You have a job to do. Batswana look to you with renewed hope. A bespectacled president speaks to you from the other side of the pond. His words reverberate through the rolling mountains and valleys of time. His message is clear: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Mr President, Theodore Roosevelt is right. Your critics and the hired journalists think they count, but they don’t. Their schemes are pure malice. You are in the arena; your face is marred by dust, sweat, and blood. Strive valiantly for your country. Yes, you will err sometimes. But remember, there is no effort without error and shortcomings. We are not unaware of your great enthusiasm, your great devotion, and your worthy causes which will ultimately lead to the triumph of high achievement. A little Kipling has never hurt anybody: “If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don't deal in lies, Or being hated, don't give way to hating.

And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise… If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!”