Saturday, August 13, 2022

Khama’s presidency in one word: Disaster ÔÇô A rejoinder

An article by a certain Sonny Serite entitled: Khama’s presidency in one word: Disaster, refers. It is not Sonny Serite’s view or opinion that we take issue with, but the ‘how’ which we believe goes beyond the core principle ‘botho’.

Sonny Serite writes as follows: “Please dear reader, excuse my use of the word foolish in my comments on the highest office in the land. I harbour no disrespect. You see, I didn’t invent the word foolish, therefore just blame it on the Queen and her language”. It is very clear that from the view expressed above by Mr Serite, he was well aware that something was amiss and thereafter tried to justify his unbecoming act by claiming that he did not invent the word and therefore should not be faulted for applying and using it.

According to some dictionary, the word foolish as an adjective could mean: ‘a remark lacking or exhibiting a lack of good sense or judgment; silly’ and or a decision resulting from stupidity or misinformation’. Undoubtedly both interpretations run short of respect, good manners, compassion, helpfulness, politeness and humility, as per our principle of ‘botho’. Not only does the word foolish fail the test when applied to the Head of State, but it also has no room in public discourse or when talking to elders, let alone within peers that respect one another. That Sonny Serite did not invent the word is no excuse because we know there are a number of words both in English and Tswana which he did not invent but can not use for obvious reasons. Re Batswana, respect and humility makes us who and what we are.

Since Independence, Botswana has been served well by its 5 national principles, of ‘Democracy, Development, Self-Reliance, Unity and Botho’ in almost equal measure. Amongst these, Botho includes positive attributes expected of a human being such as respect, good manners, compassion, helpfulness, politeness and humility. This principle plays an important role in the way we as Batswana interact in society. It is also through this principle that we are able to derive morality, morality being a sense of behavioural conduct that differentiates intentions, decisions and actions between those that are good and bad.

It is due to the adherence to these principles that we have since Independence come a long way navigating through trials and tribulations, but emerging intact. Externally the country was at some point navigating through difficult terrain being surrounded by hostile neighbours. But due to our democratic credentials and the major principles that united us, including ‘botho’ we persevered. Internally we have come across as one of the envies of other Nations due to our democratic dispensation. Within the country, there are varying political parties with their varying political ideologies. It is our belief that they are all driven by the desire to improve the living conditions of Batswana and at some given time at the pleasure of the electorate, a possibility and probability exists that anyone of the political party leadership could assume the status of the country Presidency.

As a nation therefore, the State President as Head of State embodies “the spirit of the nation”. For this reason, s/he should be accorded the respect that goes with the office, as s/he is no longer leader of a particular political party. As indicated s/he is the Nation’s father figure. The President thereafter presides over a nation that has divergent views on a number of issues, be it ideas, policies, programmes, projects etc. This is to be expected in a democratic country. It is the principle of ‘botho’ that has ensured that as a nation, we have been able to move forward and peacefully despite our divergent views on issues.

In conclusion, we would wish to reiterate that it is not Sonny Serite’s views or whomsoever who offers alternative views that we take issue with. We hold dear to our 5 national principles of ‘democracy, development, self reliance, unity and botho’, which have been at the epicentre of our development as a nation. The fact that we have different political parties that can offer counter proposals to the current government, and the fact that we have a private media that can freely express themselves attests to our regard for our national principles. Let us differ in deference.

Sipho Madisa
Press Liaison Officer
Office of the President


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