If Batswana share one character trait it is their toleranceof bozos and they have it in abundance. They really have the stamina to stay the course with someone responsible for their misery. They are able to stomach what other nations cannot condone under any given circumstance. In spite of this peculiarity, there are signs that their patience with political and economic ruin is running thin among citizens – this only after the economy has been brought to its knees by a lovable demagogue. In fact, if Botswana was a football team it would have been relegated to the lowest stream or perhaps would have become functionally extinct on account of clueless yet lovable manager. While other teams would ultimately decide to sack their manager and save the team from going under, Batswana would rather sleepwalk into taking action until the rot has reached a point of no return or take no action at all. The person who engineered Botswana’s political and economic collapse still has a healthy balance of years to complete his final term as state president. This means that President Khama still has time to cause more harm to this great nation before he eventually hands over to someone who is certainly sure to inherit a ruin that is Botswana and this seems perfectly normal.
Yet, in spite of the damaged caused, whoever becomes the next president of the Republic of Botswana need not be a great leader after all. Public opinion and analysis including submissions from Yours truly has always been that the next man or woman has to be a truly great leader with requisite negotiating acumen to manoeuvre through the current mess. Whereas this is borne out of sheer frustration with the economy, it nonetheless is flawed diagnosis of the cause of Botswana’s problems. Botswana’s political and economic malaise is a direct outgrowth of President Khama’s leadership style that is premised on the politics of self-glorification and personal rhetoric of exceptionalism. President Khama entered the state house riding on a wave of unprecedented public goodwill and like a seasoned demagogue took up the opportunity to craft a self-consumed, pompous and pimp-styled rule that has no regard for anyone and anything. His leadership style effectively alienated everyone and everything that matters in the business of running a country. Citizens effectively became his pets and working animals that work according to his instructions.
As the search for new leadership intensifies, we need to reflect on these realities. Whereas the situation on the ground points to the need for someone with tremendous leadership abilities, the reality is that Botswana only need someone who is committed to affording Batswana the opportunity to take our old brand and make it unique and exceptional again. In effect, Botswana does not need a Plato-like philosopher to rebrand her image. Instead, the next president of the Republic of Botswana should be someone who not only is able to get things done but most importantly to make things happen by inspiring people and valuing people’s contribution.
Botswana needs someone who would have faith in our small abilities rather than someone who is full of himself, boastfully angry and always in a fighting mood with everything including his shadow. Botswana needs an individual with the temperament to serve in the presidency without getting carried away by its accompanying powers and privileges. Such a disposition allows the office holder to be more measured, modest and alive to the plight of citizens.Presidential leadership should not be a matter of pandering and doing whatever will get the incumbent in the news.
Botswana does not need someone who would dangerously pursue a personal ambition to make history by changing laws and initiating populist programs with all the hallmarks of a big lie. Instead, Botswana needs a courteous and modest leader from a humble, underprivileged background that resonates with our real lives as well as sharing a narrative that draws upon the ordinary citizen; not someone who is living in an imaginary universe that makes him take decisions that run counter to our real lives.
On the domestic front, the next president of the republic of Botswana should invariably be an individual who shares the resolve to give citizens of this country a bit of a cuddle to getthem back to feeling good about themselves;to be optimistic and confidence in believing in their future in spite of the numerous challenges they face; someone who is prepared and eager to swiftly deal with the venom and rancour in government which has over the years prevented civil servants from getting basic work done. This is crucial in making Batswana to dream big again and stop wallowing in self-pity and hopelessness; to be proud of who they are in spite of the realities of the repugnant effects of the Kalahari Desert.
The next President of the Republic of Botswana needs to be a goal-oriented, rationally ambitious and morally upright individual who not only talks the talk but significantly walks the talk, especially someone who can get tougher on corruption bands and special interests that are looting the national treasury. On the international front, Botswana simply needs someone who will be able to work with other national leaders around the world in a way that mirrors the significance of the Office of the President and the place of Botswana in the global village.
Surely Botswana is in a terrible mess and that is putting it mildly. Botswana is fast sliding into a has-been of the world on all fronts. There has never been a more depressing time. Some things have got to change and not really much but small tweaking here and there because as a country, we already have a versatile brand that simply needed to be reinvigorated so that it is truly progressive, resourceful and a living symbol of hope where there is little. Obviously Batswana are unhappy but they do not seek to be charmed with freebies. They simply want back their liberties, freedoms and a space to express and showcase their abilities.
While being state president is a serious job and not for chancers, pretenders or those with a penchant for drawing media attention, it is nevertheless not a preserve for rocket scientists. It simply requires someone who sets out to do good things for the benefit of all. In our case where there is a clarion call for making Botswana great again, the one who aspires to be the next president simply has to establish and pick out the small things that we used to take pride in; the simple things that other countries are doing that we used to believe we were the torch bearers and have them given back to us. Being the next President of the Republic of Botswana could be the easiest job in the short term which invariably explains why there are so many contestants for the presidency of the BDP which is seen as a springboard for the state presidency. Every Tom, Dick and Harry fancies their chances because taking over from a flop means that one has no big shoes to fill. And indeed at the moment anyone or anything whether from within the BDP or outside of it would be better than His Excellency the President Lieutenant General Dr SeretseKhama Ian Khama.