The new incoming President of the Republic of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, inherits a nation of happy souls who have absolutely nothing to complain about. By his own analysis, the ruling BDP has created such a comfort zone for citizens that they can afford not to complain or take action against anything.
Masisi was addressing the media at Tsholetsa House this week for the last time as Chairman of the BDP. This, despite the fact that barely an hour prior to the press briefing, hundreds of anti-corruption protesters had marched right past the BDP’s Tsholetsa House complaining about his party’s alleged involvement in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) scandal.
Forget all about World Happiness index reports because according to the ‘President’, those are just projected complaints from a certain section of the society with ulterior motives. He went on to use the opposition as a “classic” example. “Some years ago there was some hullabaloo by some political party which has since weaselled away and the leader fortunately lost elections, saying we are an unhappy nation. Do you know how ridiculous it sounds telling people they are unhappy when they are not? You do not get votes.”
He said one of the BDP’s challenges is that people are not as efficacious as they would like them to be. He said part of it is that the ruling party have created extremely general levels of comfort for the nation. He said this has also contributed to the level of political apathy among citizens. “Go to one of the African countries,” he said, “You would be hard-pressed to find a drug, clinic, school, tarred road, or policeman. It is because we have created an environment that is so much less stressful that it creates so much apathy.” The last World Happiness Report, 2017, had yet again painted a bleak picture of the state of happiness in Botswana. The WHR, the first of which was published in 2012, rated countries like Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, Sudan and DRC above Botswana.
Of the 44 African countries surveyed Botswana ranked at a devastating 34, performing better than only 10 nations that included war torn South Sudan and Central African Republic. Save for Madagascar, Batswana were said to be the unhappiest nation in SADC, according to the rankings.
On the world scale, Botswana ranked 142 out of 155 countries surveyed, performing worse than war-torn Iraq and Libya.
Batswana were in the same league as Syria, and the Republic of Haiti which has continued to face significant humanitarian, political and development challenges; where 75 percent lived on less than US$2 per day, and half of the population earns less than US$1 per day. The report emphasized the importance of the social foundations of happiness.