Fairness and courtesy in public discourse demands that we should do full justice even to opponents’ arguments.
Such a discourse demands that we should never distort opponents’ arguments for political gain.
We should never alter opponents’ arguments as a way of deflecting attention.
More importantly, we should never resort to unfair tactics of debate as a strategy to win public sympathy.
Instead, we should at all times strive to advance both fairness and honesty as some of the basic principles of our debates.
That, regrettably, is not what is happening in the ongoing standoff between President Festus Mogae and the parliamentary back-benchers from his party.
The nation shall probably never know where the truth lies.
But that is all beside the point.
The truth is that Botswana’s most pressing problems (and they are growing bigger and more complex) will not be resolved by petty abstractions and finger pointing such what we are being treated to.
Personally, I am dismayed at the unseemly glee with which President Festus Mogae has been crossing streets to pick unnecessary fights with members of parliament from his party.
The golden rule which the president has not heeded is that once in a hole, one should stop digging.
He has been inside a hole for some time now yet he continues digging.
Even without irate MPs, his problems are manifold.
Humiliating parliament is not in his interest.
He needs MPs more than they need him.
He, however, should be advised that even so late in his career, a protracted course to ridicule MPs is inherently against his own interests.
In the end, the nation is being treated to childish distractions by Mogae’s squabble with MPs while bigger and more devious efforts are ongoing to privatize Air Botswana.
The biggest problem of the day is not the president’s squabble with MPs but rather the unsavory conditions under which Air Botswana is being auctioned and parceled out to foreign interests.
By any other name, whether it’s a sale, a liquidation or privatization, the Air Botswana deal has all the hallmarks of a mafia underworld.
I cannot usefully comment on a point of law, but I am shocked by horrendous acts of casual contempt towards parliament performed by people like Lesego Motsumi possibly at the insistence, if not collaboration, of people like Nick Cypionka.
The recurrent urges inside Cypionka and Motsumi to get rid of Air Botswana and give it to SA Airlink are, to put it mildly, atrocious.
Lesego Motsumi happily, and with little goading, became the choir leader of a hard-nosed band that acts to defy, humiliate and violate Botswana parliament, of which she is a member.
As for Cypionka, his is a classical case of condescending arrogance that borders on corruption. It’s only proper that his role is investigated, especially his mastermind of SA Airlink’s unsolicited bid.
Strangely, the man sees nothing wrong with occupying multiple roles in the transaction selling off Air Botswana if only to ensure that the national airliner finally becomes a property of SA Airlink ÔÇô a South African family owned Mickey Mouse airliner of questionable repute with a dubious track record.
The nation deserves a clear explanation as to why Cypionka, who, from the onset, has been such a foremost sales representative of SA Airlink interests in the appallingly untidy bid to privatize Air Botswana, was also allowed to sit on the evaluation committee, before showing his face in yet another incarnation as a negotiator, supposedly expected to guard Botswana’s interests against negotiators from SA Airlink ÔÇô his preferred suitors from the onset.
As a country, we should be ashamed that reputable international airliners like the British Airways have been forced to withdraw from Air Botswana privatization because they could not withstand the naked duplicity that so characterized the deal from the onset, duplicity which also sought to use them as fodder to legitimize what could turn out to be an illegally conceived transaction.
It is beyond doubt that events of the past month have proved a huge embarrassment to the government and to President Mogae in particular.
Instead of chastising members of parliament, he should investigate the charade that has become Air Botswana privatization.
Calling for restraint and hoping, as the Office of the President was doing this week, it will be business as usual is just a romantic illusion.
So far as I know, there has been total disrespect of the sanctity of parliament and President Mogae should not allow himself to be a part of it.
The President is certainly going to need the assistance, support and backing of Members of Parliament to win back credibility.
Unfortunately his speeches in as far as they relate to members of parliament have lately been getting couched in hysterical terms.
For reasons not yet clear, he seems to be developing an instinctive prejudice against MPs, not to speak of an unnecessarily quick temper against them.
He seems to have developed a fondness to picking fights in the process blurring up pertinent issues of the day.
It would be to his eternal credit if he were to stop Air Botswana’s parceling out henceforth and order an investigation to ascertain if Nick Cypionka’s multi-headed roles have been to Botswana’s interest.
The nation’s demand of such an enquiry should be unrelenting.