Sunday, September 20, 2020

Letter to Ndlelu Seretse

Dear Bra Ndelu,

Let me first apologise for calling you by this name. I have heard it on the street and I understand it is not offensive at all. It is actually a sound affection and using it doesn’t make me feel like I am speaking to someone a distant away. You are just my fellow Motswana, who happens to be my cabinet minister.

I write you today, fully aware of your busy schedule and, as such, I shall keep it short. Congratulations, Mr Minister. For winning both the elections last year and your subsequent ministerial role.
I, however, understand from the The Voice of last December that you are making a killing with one of your private companies by the name of RAF, or something to that effect. Apparently you sell military equipment.

Everyone knows that business in Botswana is quite a tricky undertaking and needs someone with the guts of a soldier. It also requires a smart fellow, someone who is able to juggle ministerial responsibilities with his business calling.

Not only have you demonstrated ingenuity but you have also chosen a business that you know best, talk of passion.

Being a former soldier and now a minister of Defence and Security and operating a military equipment company is ÔÇôwhat can I say? Wow! You really outdid yourself Bra Ndelu.

I have never been a minister myself except for a mock role at college. So pardon me if my imagination about your company and yourself run amok.
But really who could have ever thought of what you did? Owning a company that you know very well gets business from the ministry you are heading.

I think it is common sense that as the minister you participate in the designing, planning and implementation of the ministry’s desires and ideas. I once had a stint in one of these ministries and I remember that we would run helter skelter to brief the minister on the progress in the ministry. He would cancel what he thought was not necessary and suggest his own – just suggest.

I believe, in the first place, it is quiet easy to talk to your cousin, the president of Botswana and choose the ministry you want. I envy your situation Sir; imagine cousins holding such key post; president and defence minister! What a combination! Both of you can get anything they want.

I think you must pass my gratitude to him as well; he has done a good job by appointing his cousin to such a critical ministry. This actually reminds me of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq before the Americans got jealous of him. I understand a number of ministers were related to him one way or the other. I can see you and your cousin are following in his footstep.
I do not have space otherwise I would name a number of your other cousins and relatives who have since gotten key posts in the running of the state.

Apart from President Khama’s younger Brother, Tshekedi Khama, who inherited the president’s parliamentary seat and said to be on his way up, there are a number of either cousins or in-laws who are heading such organisations as Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) or just been members of such key formations as the Intelligence Tribunal.

The latter once asked God to intervene when people were criticising President Khama. I am not sure if her comments were related to your visit to the Nigerian Bishop Joshua sometime last year. But hey you are blessed already.

Anyway, let us get back to the military equipment company and the Voice article.
How did you do it Bra Ndelu? Or should I say how do you do it? Do you prepare the bidding first and then suggest a tender to your ministry? That would be the work of a genius really.

Who would have thought of such a multi skilled individual coming from Botswana?
In fact, the Nigerians and others have been looking down at us, saying we are too meek and sleepy.

Now I can go around and boast of a fellow Motswana who happens to do everything at the same time. When most of us eagerly but lazily wait for the tender to be published in the Botswana Government gazette I suppose at that stage you would be talking to your suppliers? I actually admire this arrangement because even if by ‘mistake’ you mangle some tender procedures, you are sure to be covered by your relatives at DCEC and Directorate of Intelligence and Security.

If I were them, I would not even bother to harass the one I share blood with. After-all, even if they tried, the cousin at the top would be too busy attending a Conservation International board meeting, somewhere in America. It is only now I understand what is meant by blood is thicker than water!

You are also lucky because if by some chance there is lot of noise, say the Kalafatis type of noise, your colleague, Bra Skeli would beat up the drums about Zims and suddenly we would all be talking about wildlife officers and lions or about CAF and its football. Hey, you guys are amazing. How do you plan all this?

I have lately followed some media reports on your businesses. I do not know why they think this is their business. Why do they think they can have it all? Bo the Voice! they are busy taking pictures of page three girls when you use your time to do business and then they go on to tell people that you are a Director of some company. Shame on them!

In the first place, you did not choose your relatives. You did not choose to have a cousin president, so people must just concentrate on their business and leave your relatives alone.

Anyway you have got it all planned, I must say. That is why your cousin never comments on these trivial issues. He is known around as a master strategist, whatever that means.

But I think we can all see how he operates. He is currently dealing with the noise makers like Botsalo and company who think their knowledge of democracy and civil liberties gives them a right to talk for the people more than our man Ian.

Don’t they know that he has almost completed his bonfire tours around the rural villages? And he will soon start the second leg? They seem to have forgotten that in this country we are so blessed to have someone like the president who thinks for us. The Guy is brilliant; how does he think for two million people and still remain strong? You know, all our minds are connected to his.

Of course, he is not stupid.
He has unleashed some people, whose IQ I suppose is intact, to respond to all this media rubbish. These Guys, I know at least two- MacD and Olebeng, have the ability and finance to call all radio stations.

Every time I want to listen to radio and I hear their voices I immediately shut down the damn thing; the other day I nearly smashed it.

On reflection afterwards, I said ooookay, so Bra Ian thinks he is clever. He shut down radios by asking these guys to comment on them. I have realised that they always comment when the listeners are debating critical issues about the president or our beloved state.
I remember the other day on one radio, this other opposition party member Dumelang had just spoken about some animal called declaration of some things.

In his comments he mentioned you, as an example of what this declaration will unveil. Imagine him of all the people, implying that you are corrupt. These guys Macd and Olebeng, were soon on their phones. By some luck or something, they always get through. Do you know how difficult it is to access some of the phone-in programmes? Not with them.
In fact, in one programme they would call at least twice each.

I understand that one of them, who never calls but has a radio slot for jazz music on one of the radio stations on Sundays, only known as Uncle something, later called and asked people not to respond to Macd and Olebeng. He pretended to preach peace when he was actually doing his duty. In fact, this same Uncle interviewed Ian on his Jazz programme the other Sunday.

Apparently it was our Ian’s birthday.
Anyway, Bra Ndelu, I promised not to be long. I know you have a lot on your hands. I can only say remember me when you design, plan and implement those ideas and desires of Government. The other time I was in China and I think I can supply shirt buttons, you know the type that cannot be easily broken, even by a bullet. Let us plan around that. Our policemen, soldiers and prison officers need such buttons!

Yours

Thapelo Ndlovu

Ps: I hear Bra Kgosi’s DIS listens to our conversations but I am not complaining. With you I am protected.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.