Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Botswana should guard against growing culture of impunity

Culture is a product of a set behaviour of people within the confines of their space, country or nation.

Culture is “the sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another” and provides a model of living by generating behaviour through values and beliefs constructed by the masses.

Botswana finds itself in a particularly unpleasant situation because some politicians and civic people are increasingly developing and cultivating a gluttonous, unquenchable appetite to serve self at the expense of the next person.

Some leaders have now resorted to doing what they see fit, without accountability, of course, because they know that they don’t have to justify their vice and demeaning deeds.

But, if and when they do attempt to come clean, it will simply be given another name and swept under the carpet because impunity has become the daily standard and norm.

It does not take an educated mind to realise that the legal structures which are supposed to keep people liable for their crimes, economic or political, are slowly vanishing in Botswana.

Misdemeanors, which are a very serious crime particularly when committed by highly placed public servants, are looked upon as if “it’s just one of those things, no harm done”.

When cabinet ministers commit felonies, it is always downgraded to a misdemeanor and quickly forgotten.

So, a citizen is sent to jail for a misdemeanor that a cabinet minister gets away with.

Botswana has long been considered a shining African diamond, especially in terms of governance. It is one country that has been “lagging behind in Africa” in terms of corruption. And that is great, indeed.

But as one year gives way to another, it appears the tables are turning and that reality is fading like a distant drum as Botswana is now catching up with the rest of the continent and the world.
We can now safely pat Botswana on the back for joining the real Africa, where you are served and nourished with a balanced diet of noncompliance, and an order that completely opposes the pristine and perfect ethics we must subscribe to.

That, my friends, is a culture without a conscience.

There is a crisis of leadership slowly brewing though many people are still in denial. But the people of Botswana must intercept the decay right away because it will soon become uncontainable, as it already appears to be.

The Botswana government needs to realise that its citizens are not in service of the government but the government is in service of its citizens. This is a fact although with the government of Botswana employing more than anyone else in the nation, it seems as if the people are servants of the government.

As long as those who have a stake in their nation do not understand that every action has a reaction, then we will always be weighed down and subjected to the soiled mentality of inconsequentiality and ordinariness. Africa, at large, needs men and women whose behaviour represents, reflects and exemplifies good and responsible leadership qualities from which the younger generation can copy.

But how and where did it all go wrong in Botswana?

I believe power is the answer because as modern civilisations evolve, the concept of power also considerably changes. Power must be a means and not an end. Although power must be a means to achieving something, in Botswana it is slowly becoming an end as some officials seek self-gratification at the expense of the nation.

If you are a political official, law enforcement leader or even a leader at international, regional or national level, you must ensure that power remains dynamic. There is fluidity to power because it is meant to flow and not stagnate in one place.

Power stagnates when it becomes centred on a few individuals who put self-interest above that of others and the nation; it results in state officials using power for their own purposes without being answerable to the people.

In Africa, problems always arise when power and responsibility are separated, such as what is going on in Zimbabwe where those in power and authority are never called upon to explain their actions.

I, therefore, believe that the solution to this mess is to first make the connection with the fundamentals of society. We have to redefine democracy outside of voting and bring it back to issues of equality, human rights and inclusion.

This requires the creation of a robust public field, of a democracy that is challenged as much at the workplace as at the polling station. Politicians must be forced to be accountable to the people than to be worried about votes. Impunity erodes the legitimacy of our government institutions. It results in the breaking up of our moral fibre and once that happens, it becomes the people versus the government or a president.

Are our governments delivering the best care and governance to all of us, considering our abundant human and natural resources? Of course, not!

A current interesting case that shores up the binding demands of culture on politics is one which finds Kgosi Malope of the Ngwaketse calling a high level meeting with his closest advisors and tribal leaders to formulate an apology to Kgosi Tawana Moremi and Batawana people after a BDP politician, Alec Seametso, “a Mongwaketsi from the Ngwaketsi main Kgotla” uttered disparaging remarks against Kgosi Tawana Moremi.

Thus, Kgosi Malope is employing culture to correct political behaviour and that is fantastic.
Botswana’s political and civic leaders need to detoxify from dishonourable systems while there is still time because the culture of impunity is strengthened by habits. And habits are notorious for wanting to be permanent. That is what Botswana needs to do if it is to restore its position as the jewel of Africa.

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