Monday, July 15, 2024

Masire stood up; register to vote

The Watchdog Column of the Sunday Standard has raised the issue of honouring Sir Ketumile Masire. The problem is that it has chosen a particular method as to how he should be honoured. One can see that it wants a physical monument, such as a major road, building or school to be named after Rre Masire. In my view in the process the column fails to grasp one of the realities of that Sir Ketumile represents. I once told an acquaintance that even though I disagreed with some of the things that Rre Masire did I never fail to appreciate that at a relatively young age he took a stand, he stood up against the traditional bogosi setup. It is this feature of his character that for me needs to be reflected in our nation’s character in his honour, not lifeless monuments.

At the time that I observed that Rre Masire had stood up I was discussing the cowardly attitude of some of my age mates who wanted to benefit from citizen economic empowerment but would never join the Association of Citizen Development Consultants, which at the time was at the forefront in advocacy for citizen economic empowerment. It is a pity that the attitude of those who are now middle aged has been passed onto our young, who always complain that they are being left out but would never take any step to stand up and be heard. Instead our young are unable to gather the courage of Masire to stand up to be counted, but they rather use their energies to rob and maim their own people. They do this because there has been very little continuity and transfer of the spirit displayed by Rre Masire at a very young age into the generation that followed him and the one after. I laughed at remarks by one of our young, Kealeboga Dihutso of Duma fm, who said that some people say that they keep quiet in order to avoid being denied tenders. He said that even though he is a radio personality and columnist who says things about our leaders, he had never felt that he was marginalized for expressing his views. It is self imposed restrictions that people used to hide behind when we needed them to stand with us in the citizen economic empowerment drive. Self imposed restrictions obtained in our time, they still obtain now. It is amazing how people always find reasons to explain their failure to enjoy their freedoms. Even though I may seem dismissive of some of our young and their elders I am not unaware of the advantages that Rre Masire had. He was standing up against a kgosi who had a higher power, the colonial government, over him.

There was therefore some measure of safety provided by the arrangement for Rre Masire to stand up. I believe the current situation where there is no one above our government may on the surface seem to be riskier than at the time that Rre Masire stood up. I believe that there are certain assurances backed by international institutions that also provide some measure of protection. Rre Khama and his government have come up strongly in support of the ICC. This suggests that his government is unlikely to easily engage in killing of its own people. The United Nations has a huge presence in Botswana. There are also technological advances that make it possible to capture, store and export evidence. Overall therefore the environment is accommodating for people to stand up. In this day and era one’s economic universe is not limited to tenders in Botswana. There are trillions of dollars out there, and billions of people to trade with. It is possible to create economic structures and entities that allow you to indirectly tender in Botswana. Only someone who limits their world to Botswana can feel that they have to forego their values and interests rather than stand up and be counted. People first limit their universe and then say that they have no area to move in their chosen limits. What do they expect? The best way to honour Rre Masire is to exercise the right to vote to elect a government of your choice. Unfortunately the current generation has resigned itself to either singing praises or being opposed without bothering to use the one power they have to make a gift to Rre Masire. It is very easy to construct a road or building and to name it after Rre Masire. All that is required is money and there is plenty of it in our government’s accounts.

Such a gift will be a gift by the government on behalf of the people of Botswana. A vote for ones government is a gift from the people of Botswana to Rre Masire. It is direct and personal. A government building or road is too artificial and has no soul. Would it not be wonderful if Rre Masire were to say “We have created a wonderful thing, we have sown the seed of democracy in our people such that they even have the courage to vote for a government of their own choice even with Seretse Khama’s son at the helm” It was after all Sir Seretse who is supposed to have said that democracy is a tender tree that needs to be nurtured. Rre Masire must be able to say that Botswana is in safe hands, the people’s hands, not the government’s hands. Our people must make Rre Masire a witness, since nothing beats being a witness of something wonderful that proves that you were right to imagine a democratic country practicing multiparty democracy. I have had occasion recently to visit Tsabong. On the way I passed a lot of villages and I could see the enormity of the task of developing this country. In Thomadithotse ward in Mahalapye there are twelve candidates for the BDP council primaries. I wonder how many of them can honestly say that they are aware of what this country really needs. I wonder how many of them seriously believe that they can add value to the process of generating solutions in the development of this country. It is a pity that democracy as now practiced has lowered standards such that people do not bother to honestly measure their worth.

The movement from bogosi to democracy has this shortcoming where people who vote choose from people who have no idea of what a District Development Plan is, or whether Mahalapye has been declared a planning area and what that means. We have developed a type of politician who clearly is not suited to taking this country forward. On another note, I have read in some papers that Botswana was at one time ready to attack Zimbabwe and that because of this there was peace in Zimbabwe. I have struggled to understand the reasoning of the study and have taken refuge in stories Bangwato like to tell about the Khama’s. Some have told me that Hitler wanted to bomb Serowe but that Khama deflected the missile such that it landed at Foley. Another story has it that our current president told the Americans where to find and captured Saddam Hussein. An older man told me that Khama the Great gave Zimbabwe to white people and the told them that if they gave them bread they will not object to the takeover. I learnt a long time ago how to fake a punch. I was taught that I alone should know whether the punch I was throwing is a fake or real punch intended to strike. That is why when I am told that the BDF was friendly to their counterparts in Zimbabwe whilst at the same time amassing men and weapons on the border I have a problem with a study that concludes that Botswana was ready and intended to attack Zimbabwe. The refusal by Rre Ramadeluka Seretse to comment on press reports about troop movements does not prove that Botswana intended to attack Zimbabwe, it suggests to me that the government of Botswana successfully hid its knowledge of whether it was throwing a punch or a fake, and no study can in my view make any definitive pronouncement about the Botswana’s intension without placing concrete evidence on the table. In reasoning by inference the conclusion we draw from the facts must be the only reasonable conclusion. If there is another reasonable conclusion then there is doubt that our conclusion is correct. The presence of BDF along the border could have signaled that Botswana had reached the conclusion that Zimbabwe was going to have a civil war rather than an intension to play any role as a deterrent to the impending civil war. Botswana would have placed troops to ensure that refugees will go to another country instead of Botswana. With a population of 2 million people Botswana could not afford an influx. In fact there has been greater movement of people from Zimbabwe to South Africa than to Botswana.

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