Thursday, February 25, 2021

Khama’s populist initiative hits a snag

Following his invitation to the public to approach him with their grievances, President Ian Khama is not coping with a tide of complaints received by his office.

The complaints range from land disputes, labour disputes, social issues, cases involving private companies, parastatals and non-governmental organisations.

Some people even approach the Office of the President seeking funding for businesses and tertiary education, among others.

Permanent Secretary to the President, Eric Molale, has since issued a statement that the Office of the President is currently experiencing a backlog of cases “due to the large number of appeals/complaints received daily”. Molale has advised members of the public to seek help at other institutions, which are rightly placed to deal with their various grievances and needs.

The opposition says the initiative was a populist one from the beginning and was bound to fail as it has.

“Khama’s Presidency has been about portraying himself as a super human being who can achieve what institutions fail to deliver. Modern democracies do not function like olden day monarchies.
President Khama has to realise that his role is to help build strong institutions that can help resolve the numerous hardships of modern day governance,” says Botswana Congress Party president Dumelang Saleshando.

The BCP leader offers that instead of labour issues being resolved by the Presidency, Khama should look into ways of strengthening the labour dispute mechanisms that are in place.

By the same token, the Botswana National Front spokesman, Moeti Mohwasa, says it is not surprising that the initiative has failed “because our society is made up of many actors and theatres”.

“Khama wanted to be the only actor and the rest of the society the audience. Each structure or organ in the society has its functions, duties and responsibilities and they complement one another. Society functions smoothly and grows because each actor or structure complements others.

At least now the Office of the President is sobering up,” says Mohwasa.

The BNF spokesman says this will allow other “actors” to play their role adding that this shows the deep mistrust and lack of confidence that the Presidency had on other actors.

“The general approach by President Khama is to portray himself as a messiah. His government no longer talks Government programs and policies but rather Presidential initiatives. Long to medium term government plans such as the National Development Plan are subordinate to Presidential directives,” Saleshando charges.

Saleshando says Khama cannot resolve issues that affect the common man through directing civil servants on what to do at kgotla meetings.

“While this will earn him accolades amongst the populace, the country is not better off as a result of the Presidential interventions. As President, we expect him to provide strategic leadership geared at transforming the institutions and processes through which services are delivered to the people. A President needs to operate in a manner different to that of a headman who presides over a small locality,” the BCP leader says.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper