Saturday, June 3, 2023

Just one day, the people will say it is enough

There comes a point and time when the people can no longer take oppression from their leaders. More often, it takes a long time for the oppressed to finally say it is enough. History has however taught us of the several ways that the people can say it is enough. Others simply vote out their leaders while those who are totally ‘gatvol’ with their leaders opt for more radical and painful ways. We have seen it happening in many countries that were led by dictators. Leaders who oppressed their people have been denied votes by their people. Leaders who persecuted their people have been killed by their own people. Leaders who tortured their people have been sent to jail. History has shown that there is never a happy ending for leaders who become comfortable with making their people uncomfortable.  I still recall Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi‘s one hour-long speech on state television when he promised that he would never relinquish power, as other leaders had done when called on to by their people. Gaddafi’s defiant message was directed at the mostly youthful protestors in Benghazi (which at the time, was in the protesters’ hands).He said the young people in Benghazi had been duped by outside forces and did not know what they were doing. The youth were saying it is enough and he was saying they are drunk. He even urged the parents to not let their children get drunk and be misled. Gaddafi called the protesting youth cockroaches and that they did not represent anyone.

He said they were just a handful trying to imitate what had happened in Egypt and Tunisia after being drugged. He announced that  he would unleash the police and the army on the ‘cockroaches’. Interestingly, Gaddafi said during his televised speech that all those who used force against the people would be punished by death.  In his speech, Gaddafi tried to manipulate the Libyans into believing he was a good guy and America was trying to turn his people against him. Gaddafi posed as a caring leader who took care of the poor and turned them against those who called for civil rights in Libya. Protests and dissenting voices were not allowed under Gaddafi’s rule. The oppressed eventually said it is enough. The rest is history. We all watched Gaddafi’s undignified death which was shared by his people on social media television. The same happened with Saddam Hussein of Iraq and many other dictators. Congolese President Laurent Kabila was shot dead by his bodyguard, who was a teenager at the time. He was fed up with Kabila. Having said that, I would like to make a clarion call on our leaders here that we do not want to reach a point where the people will say it is enough. I am very sure that our leaders do not want to be voted out of power and that can only be avoided when they do not push the people to a point of enough is enough. I am also very much certain none of our leaders wants to die, let alone be beaten by the people and that can easily be avoided by  not pushing the people to a point of it is enough. What happened at parliament on Monday should have us all worried and unsettled.

The police brutality meted out on innocent protestors must be condemned by all Batswana who do not want our country to go through ‘it is enough’ moment. Unemployed graduates stood outside parliament, quietly holding their placards with messages directed at their parliamentary representatives and the police beat them up and locked them in holding cells. The youth were just outside parliament and posed no security threat to anyone. The youth were not armed. They did not disturb parliamentary proceedings but the police found it befitting to use excessive force to remove them from the precincts of the national assembly. Some journalists were briefly detained simply because they were doing their job which entails asking the police questions. The police got irritated and arrested them. BDP activist MacDonald Peloetletse took to social media and defended police brutality. Just like Gaddafi, Peloetletse is of the view those unemployed youth are just trying to emulate the youth in South Africa and Zimbabwe. To him, their protests are uncalled for. He says they are not the only people who have no jobs. He is saying all this while he is enjoying a monthly salary as a specially elected councillor in Gaborone. To Peloetletse and those who share in his insensitive views I refer them to the famous words of Martin Niem├Âller who once said ‘’ First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak outÔÇöBecause I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak outÔÇö Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak outÔÇö Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for meÔÇöand there was no one left to speak for me”. It was also Martin Luther King who said, ‘’ He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it”.

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