Sit down! I consulted the dictionary and it defines stupid as “lacking intelligence or common sense”. It can also mean “tending to make poor decisions or careless mistakes”. Stupid was the only word that, in my view, could best describe the decision by our Government to reward bad behavior. Yep! Our Government has yet again done the unthinkable. According to media reports, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture has decided to sponsor the notorious Thamaga gang, known as Matsetsenkane, on a trip to the Okavango Delta to unwind and pockets P700 afterwards. The dangerous gang which has for some time terrorized the residents of Thamaga will embark on an all-expenses paid for vacation in the heart of Botswana’s tourist destination. Here are small boys causing havoc in the village and our Government feels the only way to get them on the straight and narrow is to spoil them to a safari getaway that many of us law-abiding citizens cannot afford. If rewarding juvenile delinquency doesn’t strike you as stupid, then I don’t know what will. Even developed countries like the United States of America do not reward juvenile delinquents with trips to Disneyworld. In fact, in the US they have a program called ‘Beyond Scared Straight’ where wayward juveniles are taken to prisons to interact with hardened criminals who scare them and share horrifying stories about prison life in an effort to scare these kids away from criminal activities that may lend them in jail. It is appalling to note how our Government lacks common sense which would have dictated to them that they are setting a very bad precedence. These Thamaga thugs do not deserve such an expensive retreat. There is only one prescription for such thuggish behavior from such young boys. They must be thrashed on their bare buttocks at the Kgotla, in front of the public which will include the village girls that they are trying to impress with their bad-boy behavior. I was shocked to read in the newspapers that Minister Thapelo Olopeng has defended the move, saying it is not spoiling the boys but it is a strategy to rehabilitate and counsel the gang to reform and refocus. What a load of crap! Is this even sustainable? What message is our Government sending out to other youth out there? Will it surprise us to now see an upsurge in juvenile delinquency as more of youth join the bandwagon and start engaging in gang-related crimes with the hope of being sent for ‘rehabilitation’ at expensive lodges in the Okavango Delta? One newspaper quotes the minister as having said “I am hopeful that they will emerge from the trip as responsible young men with better goals in life”. The honorable minister needs to be saved from his dangerous hopes. He is hoping against hope. All I see these boys doing on their return is to go around and boast to the law-abiding kids in the village and making them feel stupid by having not been involved in the rascal activities that took them to the Okavango. Are we going to blame young boys in Maun should they too decide to terrorize the residents and plead with the Government, “take us on a safari trip and we will come back well-behaved”? This Government is really wasting our money on silly and unsustainable programs. They are just throwing money at problems. It is understood that the 36 Thamaga rascals will each pocket over P700 at the end of the retreat in compensation for their time out. In other words, our stupid Government will pay these thugs for keeping them away from troubling Thamaga residents. They will be paid for being far away and allowing peace and tranquility to rein in Thamaga. Instead of creating employment for the youth so as to keep them away from criminal activities, our Government is instead rewarding them for engaging in these criminal activities. While I was shocked by this initiative from our ever hilarious Government, I was however not completely surprised. Our Government has a history of rewarding bad behavior. People who are implicated in corrupt practices are often the ones who get promotions at the government enclave. Murderers have been given presidential pardon by President Khama and even reinstated to their jobs despite having been convicted by the courts of law. It is therefore not surprising at all that our Government finds nothing wrong with grooming these young thugs and making them feel all important and adored.
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