Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Is the centre imploding?

A few years ago there was a lawsuit involving some of our county’s most powerful individuals. What a lot of observers wondered was why it had not occurred to these people that it is better to resolve their differences indoors? As one reads local private newspapers one cannot help but wonder why with so much allegations of corruption leveled against some of this country’s most powerful individuals the press feels confident about publication of such allegations. The first thing to realize is that the powers that be think they can hide behind the very institutions that are being accused of sitting on investigations.

It seems the powers that be think that you can protect yourself by asking the very institution that is accused of lacking independence to issue a press release rubbishing the allegations in the media. The issue of credibility seems to escape our leaders. It does not really matter what DCEC says about allegations about its own investigations in the public domain. In fact by commenting on press allegations about investigations it seems to be reading its founding statute in a biased fashion. If DCEC is not allowed to comment on its own investigations to any third party why does it think there is an exception to this provision such that it can dismiss allegations being peddled in the private media?

It does not make sense to say “I am not allowed to comment on any of my investigations to any third party. However I am telling you that what you read in the press about certain investigations is unfounded and mere fabrication” The office of president in our constitutional set up is not a shared position. This means it does not matter how close one is to the president. Whatever protections are afforded a person who occupies the office of president cannot rub on onto any third party. This means that even if one were to suggest that presidential immunity extends beyond the period of when a person was president such immunity will not protect friends or close associates. This makes it possible for the country to still prosecute those who thought they were untouchable when they were close to the presidency.

When one has regard to recent publications in the private media one cannot help by see that what is being said is a very simple thing. You may have power to intercept our communications and collect all manner of information about us, but you are no better than the worst of us. When a country reaches this stage it can go one of two ways. It can descend into anarchy or those in power have to start killing each other and innocent people to send a message that all must keep quite. It will be a huge turn around for our rulers to start killing each other and our people. As things stand only one person has the capacity to free himself from any bad situation because the country allows him to do so, the president. The thing is that this constitutional process is available only to one person at any given time. A president cannot share this capacity with any other person. He stands alone but perishes with others should he elect not to save himself. For a long time we have tried to educate our leaders to understand that no nation can survive under a regime or style of government that in primarily anti citizen.

You cannot have a situation where minorities dominate the economy and positions of influence forever. Your people may seem to be quite but they find alternatives. If we are honest we will see that a lot of our people survive through theft. They may not snatch cellphones or get involved in armed robberies but they do buy stolen property because that is the only way for them to survive. You cannot have minorities dominate the economy and not promote tribalism. Though we do not easily admit that there is tribalism in our country evidence on the ground suggests that it is very strong and surviving. There are tribal cabals operating in Botswana and the emergence of white people in senior positions of government and government controlled institutions after nearly fifty years of self rule rubbishes the aspirations of those citizens who at one time thought we were one people.

Instead people find comfort and support from tribal affiliation. A look at Rre Khama shows that there are principally two cartels that surround him. Military types and whites. There is of course a civilian cartel but it operates in a secondary layer. Its influence is primarily founded on appeal to the corrupt instincts of the military and white cartels. The civilians went to school with military types and know that the army did not magically make military types their intellectual superiors. They also know that military types are not immune from basic human flaws. They have successfully traded on the corrupt instincts of the military types and found leverage to the centre of power. The whites have always had tremendous influence but they do not have the numbers. Further, countries around Botswana are primarily pursuing a policy of ensuring that black Africans dominate the economic sphere of their own countries. We see this happening is South Africa and it is highly unlikely that indigenous Batswana will forever accept a situation where they have to steal in order to survive or buy stolen goods to feed their children. Zimbabwe is also posing a interesting picture that seems to rubbish Botswana’s approach to the question of citizen economic empowerment. I read in some foreign business paper that the European Union is softening its position on Robert Mugabe.

This can only mean that our economic posture where we are cowardly on citizen economic empowerment becomes even more untenable. Mugabe is old and chances are his rehabilitation will embarrass Botswana. He is likely to die a hero in the eyes of his people because he has fought to place the economy of Zimbabwe in his people’s hands whilst our leaders have for some strange reason resisted all efforts to formulate a citizen economic empowerment law. The trouble with Botswana is that we have a history of calling people names when they fight for something only to change when they become victorious without learning anything. When liberation movements were fighting for freedom we called them all sorts of names. When they became victorious we called them freedom fighters. Of course in certain instances we helped in our own way but we failed to embrace the full liberation message. That is why after being the first amongst our neighbours they have moved further than us in many respects. Had we learnt something from the liberation struggles we would have understood that the issue was never about political freedom only, but also about economic power. The idea that seems to inform our leaders that they can be minority shareholders and commission takes at the expense of the greater number of our people is flawed. Batswana may seem to be passive but they are masters at survival. You make it difficult for them to survive legally they will still cheer you but indulge in criminal activity to survive. Our leaders need only take a pause to ask themselves why people who have low incomes survive in an environment of high food prices?

They need ask themselves why these people do not riot in the streets. Ultimately what I see happening in Botswana is a leadership that underestimated the resolve and ingenuity of civilians. The idea that military training makes one better that the unruly civilians is with respect heavily flawed. It is instructive that it is the civilians fighting to preserve their space that will save this country. How they fight is entirely at their discretion and the first step has been to demonstrate that military training does not make you smarter than what you were when you were a civilian. They have through publication in the private media demonstrated that so called patriotism is not a cure for flawed characters wearing military uniforms. They have through private media publications demonstrated military types are as susceptible to corruption as each and every one of us. As for those who surround Rre Khama and depend on him for survival when accusations of corruption are leveled at them I have this to say.

A few years ago the Sunday Standard newspaper carried articles that clearly put Rre Khama in a bad light. He threatened to sue but in the end had to as they say in the army( in movies at least) stand down. They have to ask themselves a simple question, if they have in the past made the big man stand down, who are we to think we can refuse to stand down? The centre is not as impregnable as some believe and it will do them a lot of good to know this.

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