Leadership is not going up the ladder to be served; it is going down, to serve – Kevin Jones.
I had the greatest honour earlier this week, to have been amongst some of the most influential pensions, financial and asset management minds in the country. It was such an incredible moment and I was awed by the incredible talent that is within this country. I was clearly an outsider – and I mean that in every way – but I loved it that way because this afforded me the chance to have a bird’s eye view of the proceedings, presentations and all the possible outcomes. While I was not entirely billed to speak or contribute, I find the issue of the economic development (and by extension, diversification) of Botswana to be bigger than the presentations of a few, exclusive industry players; and as such, I am compelled as a citizen, to contribute. After-all, the economic development of Botswana is first of all a national project that requires the participation of every citizen. And right here, is where we all must weigh in and assess the true intents of our hearts, whenever we stand and show our hands to be counted as willing propagators of the development agenda. I imagine that the agenda to develop the economy of this country should be directly connected to the moral aptitude of those driving the exercise. In other words, the captains of all industries, including those mentioned in here, must assess the intrinsic make-up of their motivation to do what they are doing. To sit in the cockpit of the economic development agenda, requires the stewards of the economy to be real, honest and true to themselves. Their ego must be in check at all times. I am repeating myself, I know, but this is because I appreciate this to be a critical aspect of Man’s development. There is one motivating factor that drives every living creature, and that is self-preservation.
And since it is innate, I imagine it to be the real catalyst that informs everyone’s motive. But that is the primitive part of Man’s nature. Man is also built to transcend his primary instincts if he so allows it. And it is this perspective that informs my argument that captains of industry must be driven by a lot more than their ego. I must hasten to say, ego is neither a good or bad thing. It is an instrument, albeit, a powerful one, that drives Man’s ambitions; and as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. Therefore, captains of industry must be aware that economic development is something far larger than themselves and their ambitions. They must transcend their primary instincts and enter a realm where they can accommodate the ambitions of others as well. We can call this realm, the goodwill realm and it is a tough realm to exist in if you are constantly hunting for enemies – real or imagined. And let us just say, the goodwill of some (and I am being conservative) of our leaders is questionable, which then makes their motive(s) questionable. Here is an example. If a top ranking industry player knows and can succinctly articulate the bottlenecks that constrain retirement value for, say, soldiers in this country, and they do nothing about it because they believe that it is not their place to do so, then they must assess their motives. They must reflect as much on the core of their being as well as their worldview. One wise man once said something to the effect that a great man speaks for himself, while a greater man speaks for others as well. And this requires a strong sense of fairness and an appreciation of the independence of freedom of thought. Unfortunately, this is one aspect that has over the years suffered due to the growing spectre of partisanship. And this makes the whole economic development rhetoric to not only be an insincere, but also a callous undertaking. The price that we will all pay is gigantic as the drive to incorporate only those ideas that are along partisan lines, is going to push Botswana back to the dark ages.
We can be better than that. We can pop the bubbles we live in, step outside and embrace one another. We must create strong linkages that are based less on the growth of returns, but more on the satisfaction and the general quality of life of all the people within the borders of this country. And let me also say that the linkages I am talking about are already there, they just need to be revived and strengthened. Therefore, the captains of the mainstream economy should engage more with the outside of their worlds. Outsiders also have a view, and this view might just be the missing piece that can help complete the picture of success for the whole country. The world has moved on along. Millennials all over the world are demanding for more transparency, greater accountability and just a different life experience from the current status quo as seen in Botswana. They would like to see their effort count for something and this is causing a great deal of tension in countries where there is a push for short-term, near sighted and just downright myopic partisan results. Batswana leaders must watch what Donald Trump is doing to the American socio-political landscape and heed this warning. Do not say; as one captain said – while debating the Bot50 logo saga – during the week, that Batswana did not engage them while there was still time. I think this argument (the right word is accusation) is a classic example of a captain who should interrogate the motives of his heart. So, captains of industry, pop those bubbles you live in if you truly are sincere about the economic development of Botswana. Once again, do not say you were not forewarned. Lastly, I wish to thank Rre Peter Hikwa and Rre Nkosana Ndlovu, the Chairperson and Executive Secretary, respectively, of Botswana Pensions Society for the opportunity to be part of their event. Le ka moso betsho.
*K. Gabriel Rasengwatshe is a business strategist, author and presenter of Gabzfm Business Hour, on Wednesdays, 6pm-7pm.