It is natural that when a new person takes over as state president the hopeless have their hopes raised. When someone takes over the reigns, and it does not matter how useless that individual might be, even hardened sceptics offer to take a breath and allow the new recruit to stain his/her reputation by word or deed before they tell the world how they have always known that the new leader was just a tadpole with the lowest IQ. For a new state president who takes over at the time when the quality of life has taken a severe knock, expectations for a better life are bound to be unreasonably high and this is what His Honour Vice President Masis has to contend with as he prepares to take over at the State House.
At the moment, there is palpable anger virtually everywhere partly fuelled by a general feeling that President Dr Khama was in it for his own ends, specifically to use the presidency to satisfy his cravings. After the widely acknowledged failures of the charismatic Dr Khama who came into office promising prosperity and a commitment to cure society’s ills through his 4Ds roadmap, people have lost hope in government and in life. They feel buffeted by economic insecurity. They feel abandoned by a government that has submerged under the weight of rhetoric that initially raised hopes. In effect, there is general scepticism of the public toward the current political leadership and state institutions. Whereas some amount of distrust is healthy in a democracy, the current levels of pervasive distrust, suspicion and hatred are unhelpful and harmful.
Many Batswana often believe the worst about virtually everything that President Dr Khama and his government set out to do. They are suspicious of every single thing so much that a lot of wise initiatives have failed because people suspected mischief and feared to be trapped by the promise of honey. In the ensuing mistrust and witchcraft, ingenious persons who cannot stand the smell and filth of self-serving junta have decided to mind their own business. As a result, politics has suddenly become personal and a calling for criminals and scoundrels. There is profound fear that the economy has crumbled under President Dr Khama’s watch. That, in spite massive government spending on the so-called economic stimulus program (ESP), the erstwhile economic miracle continues to limp sideways and loose its sparkle.
Joblessness especially among graduate of tertiary institutions remains embarrassingly high and is likely to remain so for a long time to come considering low rates of overall growth of the economy. And when graduates of tertiary institutions live a life inferior to queue marshals, registered destitute persons or their peers who dropped out of school either because they had their priorities upside down or due to delinquency, it shows that the economy has entered a period of rapid decline and is experiencing a free fall. Wages have stagnated and continue to be washed away by inflation and predatory levies that have become more popular than the national anthem. As a result, the pessimists are now having a field day denouncing the ruling BDP as a party of damned greedy crooks who do not give a hoot about the country’s economic performance as long as they can use their political powers to acquire ranches and defile minors without nay fear whatsoever.
It should however be noted that much of the hopelessness and pessimism about the Botswana’s economy is directly related to the dominant public opinion that has remained sceptical about President Dr Khama’s leadership credentials. President Dr Khama’s presidency has been marred by incessant criticism and furious hostility from various quarters who believe that his elevation to the highest office in the land defied logic and appeared designed to frustrate the opposition parties rather than offer the country capable leadership. President Dr Khama’s stewardship has thus provoked various reflective assessments of Botswana’s political dynamics between the political elite who wield power and the working majority who have been subjected to relentless humiliation and expressed marginalization.
These assessments offer possibilities for understanding the underlying causes of lack of trust in President Dr Khama’s administration. In the public service the low confidence in government is motivated primarily by workers’ concern about their conditions of service particularly the stagnated wages. The historic low public confidence in government is also motivated by President Dr Khama’s vengeance and an overt preference for second rate people of questionable integrity who at most times act inappropriately but are shielded from sanction. This has culminated in many civil servants enthusiastically abdicating official responsibility in protest and in some cases simply refusing to take orders from a government that puts bigots into positions of authority.
The effects of this lack of confidence in government by civil servants and the general public are incalculable. In many ways, President Dr Khama’s leadership set out to undermine public institutions, promote fear and frustrate accountability in order to prop up his sissies in a manner that ultimately diminished the value of accountability in government. President Dr Khama openly endorsed nepotism, racketeering and theft of public monies leading to pervasive frustrations, disillusionment and widespread anger. That many people remain sceptical about the government’s deeds simply implies that the current government is short of political legitimacy that has to derive from public trust.
Most importantly, trust is priceless to an effective government and is a cardinal resource for leadership. A lingering shortage of trust in the actions of government points to polarization, doubt and resentment which in turn lead to a frightening mood for sabotage and widespread organized subversion from all quarters within and without government. In this respect, His Honour Vice President Masisi’s biggest challenge upon taking the reins would be to restore public confidence in government and its institutions. He will have to build bridges and find common ground with civil servants, the middle class and those on the other side of the political aisle in order that we all pull together to reconstruct a coherent and decent future for our nation. The current acidic relations and suspicion of each other and the endless squabbles between the government and its employees is a characteristic of banana republics that are on the verge of implosion.
His Honour Vice President Masisi must commit to giving Batswana a government composed of honourable men and women who will place the honour of the nation above self-interests and not a gang of skelms that we presently have as cabinet ministers. To many critics, President Dr Khama is a thick-skinned tyrant who obsessed with small minded people that constituted a terrible Mickey Mouse cabinet in ways that diminished the value of national politics and presented government as a playground for egoistic, fame-seeking, greedy wannabes. In order to restore public confidence in government and its institutions, His Honour Vice President Masisi should consider discontinuing most of President Dr Khama’s personalized yet useless policies that merely sought to remind the nation who is in charge of the affairs of the state. Anything less than this would only serve to confirm widespread scepticism and intense fear that Mr Masisi is a designer black doll or a typical lily-livered money mule who is doing someone’s bidding.