Before my president unleashes his excitable security agents on me, and before our irritatingly-conservative society grades my manners, let me state from the onset, those words are not mine. I just happen to concur with the author of that statement. Those who read extensively may already know of a certain American called David Horsey. He is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist and columnist for the L.A Times. Horsey, writing on the ongoing presidential campaign in America, opined that there is no excuse, other than disinterest or laziness, for any voter to complain that they do not know enough about the men and women who have already spent more than a year vying for their votes. “We know plenty about the finalists in this raceÔÇöwho they are, where they stand on issues and what their strengths and weakness may be”, Horsey wrote in his column. He commended the news media for having done an exhaustive and exhausting job covering the presidential campaign. Having applauded the media for doing such a sterling job in educating the American voters about the candidates, Horsey concluded, “Yes, it is all a crazy circus, but if a clown ends up in the Whites House, don’t blame the news media. That will be the fault of voters whose passions override anything reporters tell them”.
Now let’s use the same analogy here at home. The private news media in Botswana has, and continues to enlighten the nation about their political leaders: where they stand on issues and what their strengths and weaknesses may be. We do not need any intense research to prove how the majority of our nation is unhappy with the way things are done in this country. A lot of us are worried at some of the, with due respect, silly laws that our leaders keep imposing on us. Many of us are worried at the rate at which corruption manifests itself in government institutions. Every one of us who is sane, is surely worried at the rate at which our children perform dismally at schools. Sadly, and despite all those worries and concerns, we continue to elect clowns and uninspiring people to lead us. We continue to elect people who embrace corruption. We continue to elect people who do not give a single damn about our childrens’ education. We continue to elect people who trample on our civil rights and many others rights enshrined in this republic’s constitution. We continue to vote for people who abhor dissenting voices. We continue to vote for people who want us to love them more than we love our country. We continue to vote for people who have us all scared to freely have conversations amongst us. We continue to vote for people who feel government jobs must be allocated along partisan lineage. We continue to vote for people who refuse to account for their failures. We vote for people who protect their elite circle of corrupt executives. This we do, solely because, as observed by Horsey, our passions override anything reporters tell us. I have interacted with people who readily agree that our leaders are sinking our country down the drain but still swear they will continue to vote for them. It is common to hear someone unashamedly boast, “The BDP might be led by corrupt people but I swear my allegiance to the grave”.
Such are the kind of people who, despite all that the news media expose about their leaders, still go on to throw their weight behind them. I am still reeling in shock over what the BDP Youth League Chairman, my very good friend, Andy Boatile confessed to the media recently. Boatile told a daily publication that he has convinced President Khama to start appointing Board members of government institutions and parastatals along party affiliation. In other words, Boatile successfully convinced his party president to use national institutions to reward BDP members. What shocked me the most is Boatile’s revelation that Khama initially turned down this suggestion and argued that all Batswana, regardless of party affiliation, deserved to be appointed, on merit. How then the young man ended up extracting sense from the president has left me in utter shock and disbelief. You see that is the problem a country is likely to face when we ignore what the news media report about our leaders and we choose loyalty to our political organisations. Many Batswana will agree with me that it is wrong on all accounts to appoint people to national duties based on political affiliation but then again, it is these very same Batswana who choose to allow their passions to override their principle and rationality. With all due respect, we know that nowadays a lot of BDP activists are either old or have not spent much time at school.
How then are we to accept Boatile’s advocacy for their placement in such important decision-making positions? The media in Botswana has, despite all the threats and intimidations from the ruling elites, exposed corruption that seems to be entertained and condoned by our leaders. This notwithstanding, we continue to vote for people who perpetrate this corruption. We live in a country where our leaders would rather terminate the employment of a gardener who steals a rake but continue to pay and protect an executive who misappropriates millions of Pula of taxpayer’s money. Elect those clowns, but don’t blame the media.