Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Botswana’s fierce urgency of now

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or take the tranquilising drug of gradualism- From Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech August 28, 1963.

The famous and legendary American civil rights activist could well be addressing Botswana given the relevance of the above citation from his landmark speech, I Have A Dream.

Like the unstable days of civil rights activism in America, Dr Luther King’s nugget captures our current crisis which invariably now calls for decisive, urgent action; or what may be defined largely as the “fierce urgency of now.”

Botswana finds itself in a particularly unpleasant situation where the disruptive forces ranged against it amount to a clear and present danger to its corporate existence. Corruption is, of course, the toughest enemy because some politicians and civic people have adopted the “don’t speak, don’t cause offence” attitude.

Botswana has long been considered a shining African diamond, especially in terms of governance. And there is a good reason for that. If corruption is checked, it is highly probable that its off-shoot of crime would abate.
Meanwhile, Botswana is gradually approaching a state where corruption has become so pervasive, so powerful in its impact on development that routine service delivery by agencies of government is being severely affected.

A study of the Mogoditshane sub land Board undertaken by the DCEC found that common problems in land administration include double allocation, counterfeit land certificates, fraudulent allocation, bribery, abuse of office and deviant conduct due to unrestrained interaction with applicants who desperately need land and have the means to bribe.

The fierce urgency of our present situation can, therefore, not be overstated.

Civic and political leaders must not just focus on holding on to power, they also have to set achievable targets for governance upgrade. Botswana cannot afford to be dragged down to the league of emerging economies struggling with good governance fault lines, corruption and criminality. Corruption is eating deeply into Botswana’s economy and its effect on the nation is overwhelmingly devastating. It is for this reason that the pace of good governance has slowed because of the plundering of public coffers by government functionaries.

Although they say every nation deserves the leaders it gets, in our case, our weird romance with corruption is beginning to take its toll on the nation on many levels. Indeed, difficult situations in the life of Botswana are always the right opportunities for its leaders to prove their mettle. This fact seems to be lost on our elected officials who go about government business like the prodigal son in the Bible, oblivious of the country’s desperate circumstances.

It is no longer the time for Botswana to engage in a gradualist approach to corruption. The existing legal framework in which anti-graft agencies operate has been soiled and can no longer engender effective prosecution of corrupt elements. The insufficiency of the law in dealing with corruption must be reviewed to give the required legal bite.

When impunity thrives, it underscores the fierce urgency of the present situation where a miasma of corruption now hangs over most institutions. Only drastic measures, not the tranquilising drug of gradualism will arrest this situation.

Fear of the law must be injected into the reckless leaders who loot our common patrimony. It is only when corruption is fought this way that resources meant for development would fulfil their purpose and expand the economy.

Botswana is a very respectable country and its people do not deserve to be given bread crumbs as dividends of democracy. This is not a hard thing at all; it is pure common sense.

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