Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Masire’s passing on should unite, not divide the country

For Botswana these are not ordinary times.

The country is divided, volatile and citizens are increasingly prickly and on permanent combat.

It has all to do with a deep feeling among many of them that they have not been beneficiaries of the country’s economic progress.

The country has not reached a tipping point yet, but looking at the public mood, that is not too far away.

What the country needs is leadership.

And if that is not forthcoming, any spark might prove sufficient enough to start an inferno.

Batswana are generally a peace loving people.

Unfortunately many people have mistaken that attribute for docility.

A growing number of young Batswana feel no purpose in life.

This is mainly a result of long stretches of unemployment.

Unemployment has caused many of them to lose self-esteem, lose dignity and along the way to attach very little premium to human life.

Decorum and etiquette, for a long time strong characteristics of our public debates and discourse have now been replaced by shrill name-calling and insult hurling.

We are like a country on the verge of some civil strife.

The death of former President Sir Ketumile Masire has brought to the surface the kind of divisions that have been smouldering under the surface.

Nowhere are the divisions more pronounced and more palpable than on social media.

But of course the so-called mainstream media is to blame for spreading rumour and innuendo.

Even then, the truth of the matter is that even without media (mainstream or social) Batswana were already ripe for such heated fistfights among themselves.

This is not what the late sir Ketumile would have liked.

Masire was a democrat at heart and an internationalist.

He loved peace because he knew so well that in the absence of peace there could be no economic progress.

He also understood so well that countries that had weaker economies and high poverty rates were prone to social disturbances, including civil wars.

His efforts to bring about peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, will forever be a living testimony to his faith in the potency of peace and also the dividends that such peace brings.

Fighting over his death as we are would hurt him most.

The anger among our people is understandable.

Corruption is rife.

Impunity is on the rise.

Public institutions have become a shadow of themselves and greed, especially among national leaders has reached shocking proportions.

By the time of his death, Masire was well aware of these transgressions.

And they pained him.

But he did not for once call on people to take arms or to resort to violence.

We call on people as individuals to honour Masire by behaving in the manner that the late statesman would have behaved under similar circumstances that they are facing were he alive.

More importantly we call for unity.

Masire would be immensely pained were he to wake up and learn that the nation was divided by his death.

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