It is time the BDP takes responsibility!
This discussion is actuated by Sandy Grant’s commentary titled ‘our heritage’ which appeared in Mmegi of 9th January 2013.
Sandy Grant observed among others that when he visited Bobonong in December, the place was a bit of a disaster and the uncontested national donkey capital with more donkeys visible and numerous than cattle. He also opined that Bobonong was bare, bleak and littered.
As a concluding remark, Sandy Grant apologetically pointed out that Bobonong would come top of his list of places he would least wish to live in. I am not sure why Sandy Grant would want to apologise for such an honest observation about the state of Bobonong.
Sandy Grant’s observations provide an accurate pictorial representation of Bobonong and for that there was no reason for him to be apologetic. However, what has to be borne in mind is that this sad state of Bobonong is a replica of most villages in Botswana and most importantly, mirrors the quality of life of the inhabitants. Given a choice many people who live in these lifeless villages would readily migrate to well-resourced places with quality services.
From the outset let it be made clear that donkeys could have been more visible and numerous than cattle in Bobonong at the time of the visit but really donkeys are found in large numbers almost everywhere in Botswana.
Donkeys are a symbol of poverty which explains why a majority of them are found in underdeveloped countries where they are used principally as draught animals for ploughing and transport. They are associated with life below subsistence levels.
Their visibility in large numbers points to the high levels of poverty and the misery of their owners.
Sandy Grant’s pictogram of Bobonong as a bare, bleak and littered place deserves closer scrutiny particularly that very few places in Botswana escape this categorization. The intention of this discussion is therefore to show that other than the tribal capitals of the principal tribes and privileged places, a majority of villages have remained underdeveloped and in extreme cases they have degenerated as a result of a combination of factors, prominent among them, state-sponsored marginalization. It is my sincere contention that the development budget is heavily skewed in favour of certain privileged places in ways that render less important places like Bobonong uninhabitable.
Any empirical study would show that tribal capitals and such privileged places that are also home to our superior tribal people have always been favoured by successive budgets. Sample Serowe, Mahalapye, Palapye, Mochudi, Ramotswa, Kanye, Molepolole, Good Hope and Maun and compare them with Tsabong, Masunga, Gantsi, Sefhare, Letlhakeng, Bobonong and Maunatlala. If their comparison cannot make you appreciate the BDP tribalization of development, nothing will.
Even tiny villages inhabited by members of the principal tribes are better resourced and have potable water and quality infrastructure and services than the tribal capitals of inferior tribes in ways that render minority tribes inferior, diseased and second class citizens worse than refuges holed up in Dukwi.
Perhaps Sandy Grant’s fascinating comparative description of Botswana places should help to highlight the deep tribal divisions that exist in this country occasioned by the alarming tribalization of development to the extent that that some relatively big villages like Bobonong have become donkey capitals.
People should freely express their concerns so that the deliberate neglect of smaller tribes is exposed and becomes a topical issue warranting intervention. It will be far too dangerous for people to bottle their frustrations for fear of being branded tribal fanatics stoking fires of tribal conflicts, because at some point in the future the bubble will burst.
This deliberate marginalization of inferior tribes by the BDP government is interestingly paradoxical. You see, villages, especially poor villages are the backbone of the BDP’s successive victories. At every general election the majority of the people who vote the ruling party are sure victims of the party’s policy on marginalization of minority tribes. Thus, the BDP resounding victories are sponsored by the very people who have been declared second class citizens who have to live in bleak villages where infrastructure and services are a shadow of what bona fide citizens get elsewhere.
In specific terms, the economic status of minority tribes is considerably worse than that of principal tribes and their hopelessness has come to be treated as a natural phenomenon that has rendered them objects of scorn.
President Khama is on record stating that if people do not vote BDP candidates they will be starved of development. Bobirwa constituency, of which Bobonong is its nerve centre, has always returned BDP nominees to Parliament yet its tribal capital is one of the places most people would least want to live in ÔÇô a desolate, miserable, windswept uncontested national donkey capital.
It is time the BDP takes responsibility for its actions. The poverty that is ravaging many households and the disintegration of villages mostly inhabited by inferior tribes is a deliberate creation of the BDP. The BDP is fond of telling the world that they have ruled Botswana since its birth in 1966, almost five decades of uninterrupted rule.
This privilege should come with responsibility. Droughts have always been an annual occurrence and the BDP can no longer use them as an excuse. It cannot be the fault of foot and mouth disease or unreliable rains that our villages are deliberately turned into abandoned camps and the recession is just being used as a tool to legitimize shrinking budget for less important or peripheral people.
It is now acceptable that when the financial situation is tough, funds allocated for projects in peripheral villages are diverted to implement projects in more important places.
The BDP must take responsibility and ensure that the growth of tribal capitals and privileged places of the superior tribes is accompanied by similar growth of other places that are home to less important people in order to achieve sustainable development and eternal peace.