Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A Reflection on President Khama’s Five Ds

When Lt Gen Khama ascended to the highest office in the land on 1st April 2008, he presented his roadmap heavily premised on the four Ds of democracy, discipline, dignity, and development.
After last year’s general elections, he moved swiftly to add “delivery” to the equation.

When listening to the President outlining his roadmap, the majority of Batswana got carried away and believed that he is an angel and saviour sent from above. Even some of the enlightened members of our society argued vociferously that he is going to be the greatest leader ever to come out of this country.

Having accompanied him on several occasions when he visited district and urban councils as well as having presented numerous reports to him on the projects that I managed at the Ministry of Local Government between 1996 and 2002, I decided to reserve my comments and adopted a wait and see approach.

Since he has been in office for almost two years now, I feel that it is fair and appropriate for me to comment on his performance in relation to his five Ds, more so that I strongly believe that there is a gap between rhetoric and reality.

In his first inauguration speech, President Khama allayed the fears of people who viewed him as a dictator by saying that he is a strong believer in democracy. He stated that he joined the military to protect democracy and will not change his position as the leader of the nation. In other words, he assured citizens that there was no need to press panic buttons because the country is in good hands.

Unfortunately, everything that he has done as the leader of BDP is not in harmony with the democratic values that he says he cherishes so dearly. It is common knowledge that following the heavy and painful defeat that was inflicted on members of the A-team faction at the BDP congress in Kanye, he took a deliberate decision to paralyze the central committee that was elected through a democratic process.

Cabinet members who belong to the A-team faction were appointed to the central committee even though the President stated before the congress that he wants people to concentrate either on their cabinet or central committee responsibilities. Members of all the sub-committees were appointed by the President without consulting members of the central committee and they were given more powers than the latter.

In my view, these decisions and actions clearly indicate that the outcome of a democratic process is irrelevant to President Khama as long as it is not in his favour.

If he genuinely believes in democracy, then he should have accepted the choice that was made by BDP members. How many times have we heard the President bashing other African leaders for falling to embrace democracy when he has no regard for democracy within his party?

Recent newspaper reports indicate that Botsalo Ntuane, Sydney Pilane and Kabo Morwaeng are just about to be expelled from the party following the findings and recommendations of a secret investigation sanctioned by President Khama.

The fact that the accused persons have never been called for a hearing let alone be told of the crime(s) that they have committed indicates that the President has no regard for the rules of natural justice. Isn’t democracy built on transparency and the rule of law?

If so, why secret investigations and flagrant disregard for other people’s rights and freedoms by a leader who cherishes democratic values so much? Or is it simply a case of the end justifying the means as Nicollo Machiavelli once put it?

As for discipline, I strongly believe that the manner in which the President applies the concept in politics is highly flawed and geared towards purging members of the BDP who do not agree with him on certain issues, particularly his leadership style.

People within the BDP who differ with him are deemed to be indisciplined and are also accused of undermining his authority.

It is the case of either they support and endorse what he wants or they are thrown under the bus and condemned to political oblivion. Surprisingly, when he addressed political leaders from other African countries at Boipuso Hall last year, he said that it is imperative for all of them to realize that no one has monopoly of wisdom. I understood him to be saying that political leaders should tolerate the different views that different people have, a thing that is not happening in the BDP under the leadership of President Khama.

A few weeks ago, private newspapers reported that Baledzi Gaolathe, who was appointed the Minister of Trade last year after having served as the Minister of Finance and Development Planning under the Mogae administration, was dropped from cabinet with immediate effect.

If the report that the letter firing him was delivered by the PSP a day after Gaolathe was removed from the Intensive Care Unit is true, then the President did not accord Gaolathe the respect, honour and dignity that he deserves.

For a man like him, who has served this country with pride and honour in different capacities to be dropped from cabinet in this manner is really disheartening for lack of a better word.

The same can be said of people like Moses Lekaukau and Major General Mokgware who were bundled out of their offices without any explanation to the nation, despite the fact that they held very senior positions in the public service.

What happened to the value of botho that Vision 2016 implores us to cherish and promote at all times? Is it really difficult to relieve people of their public responsibilities in a dignified manner?

Regarding service delivery and development, I am of the view that it will be business as usual in the public sector. Having coordinated the implementation of government projects for almost 10 years, the President knows that his administration has a mountain to climb because the public sector is big and deals with “messy issues.”

The irresolvable tension between efficiency and democracy compounds the problem as efforts geared towards enhancing the former in most cases compromise the latter and vice versa. This is not helped by the fact that the morale of public servants is low following the decision by the government not to increase their salaries for the third consecutive year.

Speedy delivery of goods and services under the prevailing circumstances will, therefore, remain a dream.

*Dr Mothusi is a Lecturer in the Department of Political and Administration Studies (University of Botswana).


Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.