Sunday, October 1, 2023

Have the Gods forsaken Botswana? How do we explain Botswana’s rapid fall from grace?

Vision 2036 themed Achieving Prosperity for All would make you want to live much longer to witness the year 2036. The Vision is an ambitious aspiration that would make you want to forsake the present in order to bear witness to prosperity and the realization of a rare dignified life, at least in the Botswana context. Fittingly, Vision 2036 handbook is prefaced with 3 broad questions that guided consultations with Batswana.

The questions are hereby reproduced for the benefit of the majority who have never come into contact, proximately or remotely, with the Vision’s Task Team. It is a fact that many Batswana do not remember ever making an input during the alleged consultations except by imagining being in a video game and achieving the impossible. The Task Team asked; 1) What kind of Botswana do we want to build by the year 2036? 2) What kind of a person would a Motswana like to be in 2036? 3) In order to achieve these dreams and aspirations, what should be done and by who?

I consider the first question to be very compelling and exigent in that it seeks to find out Batswana’s preferred nation state – the Botswana of our collective dreams that offers access to the benefits of democracy and accompanying opportunities for all. This question is even weightier considering widespread fears from many Batswana including the most conservative and carefree that we are in imminent danger of destroying what was painstakingly built through the sweat of our parents for many decades ÔÇô the Botswana that made us proud as a people in a continent that many wanted to quit and relocate to some other mysterious places elsewhere.

Equally, the question is apt in view that there seems to be disconnect between what the machinery of the government set out to do (the daily activities of the government that influence individual behaviours and actions) and what Vision 2036 set out to achieve. The activities and actions of the government and citizens thereof are unconnected to the aspirations as espoused by Vision 2036 ÔÇô the future Botswana that her people would like to see. It is a case of the government, the custodian of Vision 2036 deliberately being mischievous and speaking in forked tongues.

Themed Achieving Prosperity for All, Vision 2036 enjoins each one of us to commit ourselves to the accomplishment of the set goals. However, as we set out to actualize the Visions, what is clear and unambiguous is that our erstwhile beautiful and tranquil country is so troubled that it does not permit us to make any meaningful contribution to the realization of national prosperity. Our country is troubled so much that it is hard to recognize those unique aspects that traditionally separated this unique and glorified country called Botswana from the rest of Africa ÔÇô the war ravaged, diseased and rotten continent ruled by proud savages.

Botswana of today is weird, bizarre and abnormal. We certainly live in extraordinary and paradoxical times. Our country is going through anomalous and uncertain times as our national leaders spend scarce time and resources warding off incessant criticism and fighting their own people for demanding accountability.

A disproportionate number of Batswana have been and continue to be intimidated, marginalized, humiliated and used as an example of what becomes of those who demand accountability from our leaders who rather than being our servants want to own us instead. And the truth ought to be said and repeated loudly many times until such people are ashamed of themselves. Our beautiful country is troubled because of an indifferent, corrupt, greedy and pig-headed leadership that sees citizens as tiny creatures that have to be tamed by sweet nothings or empty promises.

Botswana’s troubles started with the ascendancy of a tyrant who propagated discipline as an acceptable beauty tool to conceal his autocratic style of leadership. Our troubles as a people are representative of overall failure by an administration that pride itself in defiling the rule of law. This is so because Botswana owes much of her success story to her democratic credentials that were chaperoned by former leaders who were resolute in their commitment to a democratic dispensation.

The declining democratic fortunes signals the end of an era of economic prosperity, civil liberties and government commitment to promoting the general welfare and domestic tranquillity and ushered in a disdainful and aloof leadership that treat us as garbage. We no longer have a leadership that inspires us with a deep sense of purpose. What we have now is a cabal that is so determined to accumulate massive wealth while the country slide backwards into the dark era of poverty, diseases and hopelessness. Indeed our country is under siege from marauding honourable criminals that pass as national leaders.

Our crisis cannot just be explained in terms of the 2008 global recession and subsequent markets uncertainties. Our problems are an outgrowth of a disgusting, dishonourable and divisive leadership. Our country is in trouble because we as citizens have mortgaged it to a clique that is power drunk, inept and virtually clueless: a leadership that lacks a sense of urgency: a leadership that fails to appreciate that its legitimacy is derived from the contentment of the ordinary citizens. The quest for prosperity demands leaders who see themselves as servants of their people

Botswana is under siege from a leadership that fails to inspire anyone including their lackeys and like-minded small brained bandits: a leadership that does not make any decent person to be proud of being a Motswana. Indeed Botswana is under the curse of a generation of leaders who take their followers’ legitimate grievances as an act of rebellion that has to be put down in ruthless fashion.

A consequent of this crass and heavy-handed administration is that our civil service that is famed for its hard work, professionalism and detachment from party politics has become a militarized working class that is enthralled by delinquent behaviours and guerrilla-styled battles waged against anyone who humbly ask to be served. As a result of a militarized and politicized civil service, rather than delivering prompt services to Batswana who clamour for a dignified life, civil servants crave for another industrial action to show their might.    

Have the Gods abandoned us? We have been promised and assured that He will never leave us nor forsake us! To the Lord, we cry aloud and He answers us from His holy hill (Psalm 3:4).

It is known that any regime that derives pleasure at engaging in bitch fights with public servants has its days numbered which is why some members of the ruling BDP are eager to see their party booted out at the next general elections to save Botswana from a free fall. And as long as intimidation and economic marginalization of the majority continue to be nurtured, Botswana cannot achieve national prosperity. As long as the rule of one man takes precedence over the rule of law, our erstwhile culture of democracy will continue to be eroded and replaced by a culture of fear and despondency signalling complete failure and rapid fall from grace.

In spite of all the doom and gloom, in spite of hopelessness and discernible capitulation we should draw comfort from the hard fact that the Botswana of our dreams, the Botswana that we fantasize about through the ambitious Vision 2036 lies in our individual and collective endeavours thus, requiring each one of us to do their part in getting back our country from these elite bandits. Motivational speaker and author Saji Ijiyemi opines that ‘the power in people is stronger than people in power’.  


Read this week's paper