Sunday, June 23, 2024

Come on Khama, just swallow your pride

The dirt has hit the fan. The fans are beginning to question Khama’s leadership style. Our nation is under siege. The country is unstable and on the verge of being ungovernable. The inhabitants are not safe. The children are angry and rioting. Their parents are dejected and hopeless. The public service has stopped serving. The sick are dying in public hospitals (lucky are the VP and others with access to private hospitals).

Students are not being taught at public schools (lucky is the President who does not have a child (or has he?) to worry about, even his nieces and nephews are probably at private schools where teaching has not been affected by the ongoing strike.

The economy is dwindling. The country is on auto-pilot with no captain, or in our case, no president behind the controls. In aviation circles, our country’s situation could be likened to that of an aircraft that experiences a mechanical fault while piercing through the skies with snoozing pilots.

This is ‘May day.’ The revolution is unfolding. The country is on an undeclared state of emergency. The idiocy and mediocrity in our leadership is being exposed. It is clear that the Botswana of Ian Khama has evolved in a way too distinct from that of Seretse Khama. Things have changed and things will never be the same.

You see, when it was first reported that civil servants were planning to embark on a strike that would last for ten days, I just brushed aside the reports and took them as empty threats. I mean, I have never known Batswana as people who could live up to their promises, or rather threats. I have always known Batswana as a submissive nation that agrees and respects any order from the above no matter how detrimental to their livelihood.

Batswana are fond of raising their complaints and concerns in corridors and in murmurs. They are not known to openly display their anger, disappointments and disdain for their leadership. In short, and as far as I have always known, Batswana are cowards. It appears I was not the only one who thought Batswana are cowards and would never go against the will of their leadership.

I’m convinced that President Ian Khama shared my sentiments. Just like Ghaddafi, Khama must have thought only a few ‘rats’ can go against his orders. Just like me, Khama was ignorant of the unimaginable bravery that has, for such a long time, remained hidden in Batswana.

What Batswana are now showing me and Khama is, though cowards, they are not so stupid. They know when to say enough. They are now enlightened on issues that affect their livelihood. They are now alive to the fact that a president is just a servant and they are kings. They know he is not God but human. They know that unlike God, a president can be arrogant. They also know that unlike God, a president can be told to go to hell with his arrogance. They know that after all, you do not have to possess Albert Estein brains to be president. Even airheads can be roped in as presidents and as such when a president makes decisions, the decisions are not necessarily based on the best wisdom available. A president makes decisions based on his conscience, his manners, his upbringing, his educational content, his leadership acumen and the advice he gets from his confidantes. That is what Batswana now know about a president.

It becomes a problem when you have a president who lacks in many of the aspects that determine decision-making as aforementioned. If you have a president who has never encountered any socioeconomic hardships in their life, chances are he will show you the middle finger when you tell him about the hardships of life.

A president who has survived through government purchase orders through his entire life is not good for any country. It becomes a problem when you have a president whose entire life has been taken care of by government from his diaper days trough to his executive suit days. Chances are that
person will not understand when you tell him how inflation has affected your purchasing power.
A president who does not have a wife or kids will find it difficult to understand the financial burden that comes with taking care of a family. A president who holds the record of being the youngest Brigadier in the world is likely to find it strange when people question his authority. In the army, the only prominent words that are taught are ‘yes sir’ and if you take someone who spent his puberty and adulthood as a ‘boss’ in the army, you put the country at the risk of a dictatorship.

There is something I really don’t understand with our African leaders. Before they are voted into power, they always tell us of how their only interest in the presidency is to serve our interests. Immediately we give them the mandate, their interest proves otherwise.

Barack Obama is half white and half black. When he took over as American president I crossed my fingers that his paternal genes do not overwhelm him because I was afraid if it was to happen that he behaves like a real son of a Kenyan, America was going to be no different from Africa where leaders are arrogant and believe it is their birthright to be presidents.

I had some hopes too about my president Ian Khama. I prayed that his leadership be guided by his maternal genes where leaders know that they are accountable to the people they lead. I’m getting disappointed that Khama behaves like all other African presidents who are African maternally and paternally. The black curse has not escaped him.

Only in Africa do we have leaders who cling on to power even when it is clear they have failed as leaders. Only in Africa do we have presidents who go around insulting and being rude to those who make legitimate demands from government. Only in Africa do incumbent governments view opposition parties as enemies and not opponents. Only African leaders look at their opponents as rats and village idiots and only African leaders can refuse to retire even when it clear their health and energy has reached the limits.

When the public service strike commenced, I told those I usually converse with that the power to end the strike remained with Khama and not Festinah Bakwena(if she was my mother I’d force her to resign). I said the duration of the strike will depend on the attitude displayed by Khama. I opined that, had Khama swallowed his pitiful pride and engaged leaders of opposition parties, the situation would not have turned this ugly.

Had Khama politely sat down the Union leaders instead of addressing old folks at the Kgotla who are only mesmerised by his broken Setswana and light complexion, the strike would have been averted or at least short-lived. There is no point in Khama hating, or not willing to share a table with Botsalo Ntuane because whether Khama likes it or not, Ntuane will be relevant to this country for a long time to come.

It doesn’t help for Khama to refuse to meet with Union leaders just because he feels they are pursuing opposition parties’ agenda. The truth of the matter is, people are no longer angry at Khama’s refusal to increase their salaries. Rather, the people are now angry at Khama’s attitude towards their demand for salary increase. It is impolite to tell angry workers that “ba rwele ditsebe but they don’t hear when I say there is no money“. The president won’t be happy if these people were to respond in kind and say “Tautona o rwele thogo e tona fela mme he doesn’t think for us“. Talk to the people and talk to them politely Mr President. Swallow you pride and admit all is not well.

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