It can be difficult to escape the wrath of Twitter vigilantes, particularly when a president posts a tweet that begs for grammatical study, reveals narcissism and attempts to convey some form of sympathy. The carelessness of publishing a faulty presidential statement that is produced and written on behalf of a nation and its government is unforgivable.
Such is the unenviable position that President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi found himself in the early morning of September 9. In conveying a message of sympathy to the Royal family upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the president tweeted: “On behalf of my family, myself, and the people of Botswana, I wish to convey our sincerest condolences to the @RoyalFamily & the people of United Kingdom following the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Our thoughts & prayers are with them during this difficult time,” read the president’s tweet.
Subsequently, a volley of tweets poured in slamming the president for his tweet. The question of whether or not he used proper grammar in his tweet aroused debate. Was it appropriate for him to start with “my family, myself”, or “the people of Botswana” was supposed to have taken precedence? While other vile and cantankerous Twitter users resorted to insulting the president, other users engaged in a sober minded analysis of his tweet. “Diplomatically, you are supposed to start with the people of Botswana before “my family, myself..”
It’s the people of Botswana who have elevated you to that position, not your family or self. They (Batswana) are primary and chief. That’s what it means to be presidential. Thank you,” a Twitter user wrote. Another Twitter user asked: “Ao Mr President a kaba wa re “On behalf of myself..” kante press secretary e kae.??” (Translated, “Mr President how can you say “on behalf of myself”? Where is the Press Secretary?” A Voice of America journalist, who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity, said it is not wise for the president to refer to himself in the first person plural because it gives the impression that the writer believes he is above everyone else. “Condolences can only be conveyed from a state of humility,” he said.
“Presidential decorum, manners and humility should have, by now, taught him that you always act on behalf of the nation (people) and your government, thus it should simply have been, “On behalf of my Government and the people of Botswana…” While most Batswana may overlook President Masisi’s faux pas tweet, it served as a timely reminder that Twitter vigilantes are constantly on the prowl, looking for political heavyweights to stumble over their words so they can pounce.