Monday, July 22, 2024

Discipline should start from the top

Politics can be a very interesting career. Whereas it involves the fundamental business of using power to run the affairs of the state, it is nevertheless a free-for all occupation. No minimum qualifications or specific competences are required for one to become a politician. The worst tragedy however is that many powerful politicians happen to be crooks, cheats and clowns.

Certainly, there are many well meaning and honest politicians but such noble values are never sufficient to make one a prominent and powerful politician. Often, one needs to become a seasoned pathological liar and crafty smart moron who revel in doublespeak and mental masturbation in order to make the grade. Thus, it is not surprising that in politics, brain-dead idiots are more respected, revered and admired than intelligent politicians, which is why it is fashionable for some politicians to engage in malicious, capricious and irresponsible counterproductive turbulence which is nothing more than a who-is-who contest in mental absurdity.

President Khama never misses an opportunity to beat the drum for individual and collective discipline. He never ceases to remind the nation that individual freedoms go hand in hand with discipline. My understanding is that President Khama’s discipline crusade is inclusive of political leaders. It is thus a pity that when President Khama engages in a crusade to cultivate positive values in the society, some of his lieutenants move in the opposite direction in a way that clearly point towards insubordination. Such politicians who engage in systematic promotion of hatred ought to be held to account. Political representatives need to realize that they carry the images of their parties such that whatever they say is often taken to represent the party position. Therefore their use of provocative, violent and abusive words and the propagation of hatred, however pathetic and scandalous, reflect the official views of their parties. Unfortunately, this has become a defining feature of Khama’s administration. Irresponsible and immature remarks are the administration’s latest fashion.

Perhaps there is a hidden rule that MPs and Cabinet Ministers are exempted from discipline. For instance, Assistant Minister Oreeditse Molebatsi was never taken to task by his party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the government after his explosive, xenophobic and abusive speech in Tobane in July of 2010. Perhaps the decision not to reprimand Minister Molebatsi has made other political leaders to develop oversized egos that entitle them to talk nonsense. In the absence of any sanctions against political leaders who behave like serial bullies, many MPs take their leadership positions for granted hence we have politicians who want to make cynical political capital from such a sensitive matter as homosexuality, with no regard to the possible outcomes of their silly comments.

I was deeply offended and embarrassed by Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Pono Moatlhodi’s irresponsible, distasteful and juvenile outburst against homosexuals and lesbians. Mr. Moatlhodi is entitled to his own views on sexual preferences and or related matters but as a representative of the people and a Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, he should have lowered his tone or simply held his tongue, aware that he is revered and admired by herd boys and bus conductors who may want to act on his ridiculous comments especially in relation to his thinly veiled proposal to have homosexuals killed.

The position of the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly is not the equivalent of a pimp. It occupies a prestigious place in the Order of Precedence which by extension implies that the office bearer is such an important person who enjoys considerable respect and affection. It therefore follows that persons holding such positions must be people of substance who are beyond reproach and take themselves serious. Thus, Moatlhodi’s comments are a national disgrace and have brought the office of the Speaker of the National Assembly into disrepute. In a self-respecting democracy, such insensitive, careless, reckless and inflammatory talk would cost him his position and his political career. But not in Botswana!

This incident however highlights that under President Khama, the government speaks with multiple voices. In accord with this trend, the country has been hijacked by such poisonous and self-serving corrupt political leaders that it now has all the features of a banana republic.

It is time we toss out unpredictable and jumping jack politicians who give politics such a bad image that voters decide to stay home on polling days. It is time we boycott politicians who behave like toddlers who just discovered that they are blessed with a wee-wee and want to show it off at every opportune moment. Speaking in jest as most of our leaders do doesn’t reflect a finely-honed mind as we are made to believe. On the contrary, it points to someone who is intellectually insecure yet pretending to be smart and brilliant – the equivalent of a bully who harasses vulnerable children to satisfy his ego.

It is time to deal with political bullies who derive pleasure from goading marginalized sections of our population. It is a pity that while the government dedicates considerable resources to promote tolerance amongst various sections of the Botswana society, including tolerating those whose sexual preferences are uncommon, we have in our midst leaders who propagate intolerance and blatant hostilities.

In 2008 the BDP recalled Pono Moatlhodi from being its candidate for Tonota South following some remarks he made that they considered offending. However, the chap was reinstated after sobbing on national television. The party nevertheless made it clear to him that the pardon was in fact a suspended sentence conditioned on him behaving appropriately all the time. The party further stated that they have forgiven him but not forgotten the offence. It is a pity that the MP has somewhat ridiculed and mocked his bail conditions and it remains to be seen if the party will walk its talk and punish him for his irresponsible and offending remarks. Failure to take action against the MP would give the impression that the threats were after all empty and meaningless and this could give members room to do as they please. Disciplinary action against the MP would give a strong message that the BDP and its government would not condone indiscipline and insubordination.

President Khama must take the initiative and prove that he is still in control. If he permits his lieutenants to openly contradict his principles, he must own up and acknowledge that he is a lame duck president. If people in positions of leadership want to speak in a playful or facetious way in order to impress themselves and their admirers, they must resign and follow their conscience. They cannot have it both.

Over and above, Assistant Minister Molebatsi’s abusive remarks and Moatlhodi’s provocative comments underscore the need for a Public Complains Commission where members of the public would register their complains against misconduct of their leaders.

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