Over the last few days, popular musician and artist AT has ramped up his political message against Botswana Government.
He wants to meet the president of the republic, Mokgweetsi Masisi. He also wants Masisi to resign.
Quite predictably, President Masisi has declined to meet ATI.
It is not clear why.
He instead said ATI must meet his minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Tumiso Chilliboy Rakgare.
ATI has responded by refusing to meet Rakgare, saying its Masisi or nothing.
But his message of defiance has resonated with a vast section of the youth.
ATI has legions of followers – as a musician but also on social media.
He is viewed by some as a leader.
Everybody has always known ATI was a talented musician.
But nobody saw his activist side coming.
He has been persistent. And also focused.
Detractors have accused him of being high on substance. That might well be so.
But he defied such criticism by staying focused and delivering a message that resonates with many people. The message is non-conventional and non-conformist.
Government supporters have been unable to craft a plausible message to respond to ATI.
As a result there is a growing
It is like a flashpoint for Botswana government.
A one-man campaign is taking on a whole government machinery and is taking it to the cleaners.
But a much bigger problem for government is really not AT, but what to do with his message which is a message for the majority, especially the youth many of who don’t feel any allegiance to neither the ruling party nor the government.
Ignoring these young people or their message is no longer feasible.
What the country needs are genuine programmes aimed at redress.
Government has promised a Citizen economic empowerment law.
That no longer elicits excitement because the fear is that when it comes it will be so watered down that it could be irrelevant.
That has happened with a law on declaration of assets, which by the way it is still to pass.
Despite many promises to empower indigenous Batswana, the economy remains in the hands of naturalized people especially of Asian heritage.
The focus should be on correcting a defective past.
But looking at how ATI is being treated, there is no acceptance even of the existence of the imbalances.
There is not even a level of empathy on the part of those in power. Instead ATI is being abused for being high on drugs.
They are going for the man and not the ball.
Botswana government and the ruling party face a brutal test.
The split personality that has sustained the two – where they are voted by indigenous Batswana and financed by Indians who go on to get government contracts and business patronage is no longer sustainable. Political parties can no longer make electoral pledges and promises during campaign only to abandon those once in power.
Those in power today have to demonstrate the extent of their sense of public duty and service.
To enrich themselves while leaving the economy of the country in the clutches of Indian industrialists will be an unforgivable sin.