Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Botswana for sale!

Our political leaders are too far taken in by the spell-binding fantasies of a little, make-belief world that they live in.

And at least for now, they are not ready to face up to the real world.

Judgement hour is coming – fairly soon. And big decisions need to be taken, pretty fast!

As a country do we still want to keep our sovereignty? Or we want to sell our souls to the billionaire class of South Africa?

So far it looks ever more likely that our leaders are happy to make Botswana a client state for these billionaires.

If that plan goes through, Botswana will overnight turn into a playground from where they would operate with wanton abandon.

Botswana is in the throes of an election season.

As a country, we are approaching our crowded-hour moment.

Everybody, especially the opposition is taking it with passion, totally convinced that at long last the election is theirs to lose.

They may be forgiven for thinking so.

At least based on the results of 2014, they are not being unrealistic.

Unlike all the previous elections, this time the opposition seems to truly fancy their chances.

In fact that is how it should be in a true democracy that we so often pretend to be.

The trouble though is that it seems our democracy is being sold to the highest bidders all of who are based outside Botswana.

Campaign finance has become this election’s lightning rod.

It looks like elections will be won by he who through promises made to the South African billionaires was able to extract from them most cash.

We are now on a race to the bottom.

Money has become a truly polarising issue indeed.

Money has weighed extraordinarily heavy on Botswana politics in the recent months.

Never before, in the history of this country has there been so much interest on Botswana.

At the invitation of our politicians, the footloose capitalists are now on our door step, flying low, circling around and raring to pounce.

Once they land. Like locusts they will strip this country bare.

And Batswana will have nothing to show for it.

Political leaders will be commandeered by these billionaires, for it is them who would have put them in office, to start with.

Batswana will helplessly watch as their leaders are supervised from outside ÔÇô in office but not in power.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Former president, Khama has been the first to get there.

With a cap in hand he’s literally been knocking on the door of every South African billionaire, playing victim before asking for financial donations.

Of late he has been looking more impetuous than statesman-like.

In public his is on a war path – to remove President Mokgweetsi Masisi; by hook or crook.

In private it is something else ÔÇô he is pleading for a ceasefire.

In practical reality it looks like it’s too late.

He’s crossed all the red lines.

Right from the beginning he has lacked any strategic coherence.

He has been too far ready cut his nose to spite his own face.

Behind the scenes, Khama is too busy asking for negotiations.

In public, it’s an all out war. He’s has even formed a political party to take on the BDP.

It is clear from his double act that he’s keenly aware of the damage he’s doing to his personal brand and also to the legacy he had wanted to leave behind.

That is democracy. And it should be encouraged.

But he cannot have it both ways.

For example state and public finances cannot be used to appease him in the manner that he wants.

In South Africa, Ian Khama is well ensconced in Bridget Radebe’s pocket.

 Duma Boko is happy to eat from Zunaid Moti’s palm.

Both of them will rightfully complain of the stark imbalances that favour Botswana Democratic Party as incumbent.

Since 1965, the BDP has been an unassailable electoral force ÔÇô winning election after election.

After years of using all the privileges of incumbency, it seems like at least on campaign money, the BDP has come to the end of the road.

The party, it is now clear no longer has a monopoly of suitors.

And the opposition, for its part has been all over the place making all sorts of strange promises to extract whatever it can from potential financiers.

The same indiscipline that once gave the BDP preeminence has now been so ably adopted by the opposition as a way to knock the ruling party off its perch.

Our leaders are taking a flight for the hills, heading south, there to mortgage Botswana to the highest bidder.

Mining deals, pension funds and foreign reserves are just a few of the items in their collection they are prepared to use to bait potential financiers.

Money and the influence that money is able to buy cannot be understated.

Whatever their goals, these leaders seem to have miscalculated the current mood among Batswana.

Based on strategic mistakes, the outcome of their actions can only lead to more errors of judgment.

Batswana do not want external interference in their internal politics.

They are inherently loath to the use of external money to win state power in their country. 

Opposition likes to point that De Beers has been sponsoring the Botswana Democratic Party for ages.

They are right. But up until the relationship was discovered, it was a clandestine sponsorship ÔÇô known by no more than three people in the BDP hierarchy.

We shall never know the extent to which De Beers bought access, and with that power with that same money.

All the money being imported into the country do so with strings attached.

A few years ago DCEC and a business lobby then known as BOCCIM now Business Botswana co-produced a report on election finance.

The report reached a conclusion that nobody in their good mind finances a political party without expecting anything in return.

That is especially so if the financier has no known principles linking him or her to that party’s vision.

The report said the wealthy use their money to further secure their interests be they in business, environment or tax regime.

The report is still gathering dust somewhere in the shelves at both Business Botswana and BOCCIM.

When you have a political leader pledging to outsource the management of foreign reserves or the country’s diamond wealth or pensions money in return for financial support then you know that they are not fit to run a country.

By mortgaging the country, and with that himself even before winning state power, indications are that such a leader cannot be trusted.

This endless electoral cycle is inflicting a heavy toll on the country and on the people.

Divisions and polarity are just too immense.

We must pray that elections must come and pass ÔÇô soon – so that we could concentrate on other more important things, like running the economy, creating jobs and improving the country’s image abroad.


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