It was the legendary American broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow who made that poignant observation. Ed Murrow, as he was affectionately called, observed that as a nation, we are responsible for what becomes of our leaders. There are several interpretations to Ed Murrow’s statement and they all come to the conclusion governments are shaped by their nations. The attitude of our leaders is determined by our attitude towards them. My interpretation of Ed Murrow’s statement is even blunt, that, if as a nation we give them the green light to always mistake us for the lavatory, then we will always be in shit. Someone once interpreted it to mean that if we as a nation are not vigilant and watch who we put into office then the resulting corruption and incompetence could lead to a government of weakness and ineptitude, unable to control its own economy. There is another interpretation which I truly regard as on point and that is, a nation of ignorant people will produce a government filled with evil people who want to harm the nation. I like this interpretation because it rings true to what is currently happening in our country. Batswana are very ignorant and this has led to us having an evil government that does not care about us. Batswana are so docile and irritatingly submissive so much our leaders in government find no shame in treating us like monkeys in the zoo. We are a nation that is comfortable with being uncomfortable in our own country. We are a nation that believes leaders are not supposed to be asked questions and held to account. We are a nation that is afraid to tell the truth and show our unhappiness and anger towards our leaders. It was still Ed Murrow who said most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, well at least a little.
Batswana would rather keep quiet than talk about their true, painful feelings. We only want to talk about the good that comes from our government while we have made it a taboo to talk about the bad. Ed Murrow has warned that we cannot make good news out of bad practice as we seem to be doing here in Botswana. Yes, today’s lesson is Murrow, Murrow, Murrow because just like me, he warned that we must never confuse dissent with disloyalty. Telling our leaders that they are wrong should never ever be confused for disloyalty or disrespect. In fact, and brutally being honest, we are under no obligation to be respectful to our leaders. They are not our parents. Them being elders doesn’t force us into respecting them because respect has to be earned and not attained solely on age or position in leadership. Our leaders are not in those positions because no one else could occupy them. They are merely there because we couldn’t be there all at once. There are times I just want to go around slapping Batswana across their faces so they can wake up from their deep slumber. I mean, what kind of people are we to be snoring while our leaders are busy breaking into our safe to steal our money? There is no clinic or primary school in your village but you find nothing wrong with President Khama bringing more cabinet ministers, at astronomically high costs, just to increase the number of his bootlickers.
There is no tarred road to your village but you have no qualms with President Khama making ludicrous demands on his retirement package? Tota Batswana ba loilwe ke mang? I don’t see any public objection to President Khama’s retirement demands even as they sound wolfish in that they can only be described as rapacious or voracious. With all due respect, I find the amended Presidents (Gratuity, Pensions and Retirement Benefits) bill to be full of greed and inconsiderate to the economy of our small country. It would appear Khama wants to milk us dry even in retirement. He wants us to continue giving him more even after he steps down and stops providing any service to us. The bill, which has been rushed and approved by Khama’s henchmen in parliament, will see this nation of sheep providing Khama with a fully furnished residential house at a place of his own choice. Khama might want the house to be in Mosu and we will have to pay for that. Khama wants to continue earning a hefty salary and draw gratuity and pension. How bratty of our president! Khama wants to have his office built at a place of his choice, meaning we will build him an office at a place that could be in Mosu or Okavango Delta and pay the officers who will be working at that place. Former Presidents Masire and Mogae have their official residences and offices in Gaborone despite the likelihood they would have loved to have them at their respective home villages. Khama does not want the same treatment.
The reason Khama doesn’t want to be treated like other former presidents is simply because this nation has made him to believe he is more special than them. While we freely questioned Masire and Mogae during their times in office, we have since made it a sin to do the same with Khama. The demands made by Khama and approved by BDP members of parliament are setting a really bad precedent because it will now give the next presidents the guts to craft their own retirement packages. If we are not careful with giving our presidents anything and everything they demand, we are going to end up getting even more scandalous demands such as strip-tease services for them. Nxu stru, one of them is going to demand that he be provided with strippers at Government’s cost. Let us wake up Batswana. Objecting to Khama’s demands doesn’t mean we don’t love him. It only means we love our country more.
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