Friday, September 25, 2020

Is it ever just about people?

Dear Editor

I really commend our government on what it is doing to improve the lives of its people. There are many cases that one can cite in this regard.

Socially, we can talk of ARV provision, free health and educational services, orphan care programs, rations given to the under privileged, and many others. Economically, we can mention FAP, SMME, Cooperatives, YFF, which will be launched in April, etc. Politically, we have had a sound leadership that ensured peace and stability in land at no cost to the citizen.

However, there are things I wish were not true about our government.

Empowerment, especially economic, has been the daily bread of MPs lately.

Honourable Lefhoko and Sebetela have recently been fighting this battle.

I have tried by all means to ignore the subject but I cannot hold myself anymore. More especially after reading the former MP, Magang, and Dr. Tsheko?s articles in the last edition of The Sunday Standard. I felt I had something to say also because, to a larger extent, we share the same sentiments.

It is very clear from Magang?s deliberations that the Diamond industry benefits citizens by default. We are just lucky to be in the vicinity of the operations but, in actual fact, we are in the peripheries when it comes to eating the cake. A few Batswana benefit financially from the diamond industry by virtue of employment though they get peanuts in the form of salaries as compared to the value of the diamonds. When the government made deliberate laws to criminalise citizen possession of a rough diamond, was it about empowering people? NO! When the Pula was devalued was it about people? I wish I could say YES!

Honourable General Moeng Pheto, while still with the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, blatantly and unequivocally responded on national television to a question about the possibility of us bidding to host the AFCON with a big NO!

Do you know how much it would cost us and how much it would benefit us Honourable Pheto? Probably NO!

How do I know this? Because there was no thorough study or cost-benefit analysis undertaken on this issue before he gave the answer. The quickest response we as citizens of Botswana get is always NO money!

Is this the only thing they can manage to say? If countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, Angola, etc. can host it why can?t we?

I don?t take anything away from them.
They are good countries. So was it about people?
I don?t think so!

When the ministry of health says there is nothing they can do to fund kidney transplants, citing a reason that it is waste of money that could have been used to enrol ten or so people on ARV. So you can?t save one person at the expense of 10 people! Is it about people? You decide. At least HIV gives people a chance to live while you decide on what to do, but with kidney problems, we know how these people suffer. Does that mean the life of a person suffering from kidney problems is less important than that with HIV?

The recent privatisation of Air Botswana.

Give it to the South Africans and they will manage it better.


Let them do what they want with it, fly their national flag on our soil. If you find nothing wrong with this, probably something is wrong with you. Let them (S.A) take pride in Batswana not being able to manage the only source of pride they have. Let our tourism industry that we struggled to build over the years and that depends on AB be at the mercy of the South Africans. The same people who took Hyundai from us. We call them again to come to our rescue! Is it about people? Yes, the South Africans. Ladies and gentlemen, are we alive here?
The world cup is coming to Africa. A historic moment some of us praise God for that we are alive to be witnesses. And what does Botswana have in place to benefit from the spill-over?

Are our baskets ready to collect the leftovers from our master?s table? I acknowledge that we had a meeting with officials from South Africa beginning of the year. And that is a positive sign. But the question remains, ?What specific programs do we have to get a piece of this large cake?? Is it by advertising the beautiful South Africa (the land of possibilities) on BTv at prime time? So there is nothing, absolutely nothing to market our country! The exquisite Botswana, blessed with rare flora and fauna that the world feels so good to be associated with! I have learnt that marketing is a battle of perceptions but not products. We have the products, but whom are we selling? South Africa!

These and other issues not mentioned, in my opinion, do not give evidence to the government that operates in the interest of its citizens. If we are more concerned about saving the monies and not spend it on people who put us in office, are we really for their lives or we want the country?s resources to benefit but a few. Let us work together to give people hope for a better future. Let us give people a reason to live. Let us not give our country to the dogs. Let us preserve its name, identity and pride. Let Batswana be proud of who they are as they hope for a new and better future. May our government take deliberate steps to empower people? Because, after all, it is all about peoples? lives! It is ?of the people by the people for the people. That is democracy.

Thuso Mphela, UB.


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