Friday, April 19, 2024

Masisi must clean the Civil Service

Like Robert Kelly would sing, “The storm is over.” The elections are over and the hype has died down. Members of the public are now having some respite from the loud speakers that used to hail in daytime and at night.

It is now time to settle down and do the hard work. The people who have elected the ruling party and opposition politicians into power are looking forward to seeing their expectations met. It is time to roll up the sleeves and get down to work.

The trouble is there are so many people in the civil service who are still suffering from nostalgia. They have not severed their ties with the former president, Ian Khama. He still has his influence in the apparatus of government.

Khama may have lost in the past elections but he is still full of potency in as far as destabilizing government is concerned. This is a man who ruled this country like deity and his worshipers were in abundance. Every day he arrived at his office at 07:00 hours and he expected all his faithful to have settled in their offices at 06:30 hours.

The moment he left, so many of his worshipers were already addicted to his presence while others were too happy that he was on his way. Generally the public had had enough of this man and they wanted him to go. There has never been a time when the nation was so anxious to see a serving president gone. But in so many ways Khama has refused to vacate the office and one would say “the scaffolding has not left the new building and continues to steal its beauty.”

Ian Khama is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst – at least that is what we are told. At this military academy, the first thing an officer cadet is taught is the seven principles of leadership. The first of the seven is integrity and that is highly regarded in the British military. The second of these principles is loyalty.

In the British military it is mandatory that an investigation would be carried out on an officer upon allegations of impropriety which may put the his/her integrity in question. Just mere allegations are sufficient to jump start a full investigation. Having spent some unknown period at Sandhurst, Khama should have known better what is covered in Military Ethics 101.

Ian Khama was a very principled leader. But he had the military principles upside down while he was president. To this man loyalty mattered over integrity in the sense that he always sacrificed integrity for loyalty. For this man the most important thing he would look for in his followers was loyalty.

Ian Khama surrounded himself so much with people who were bankrupt of integrity. The people that enjoyed promotions during his tenure as commander at BDF and president of the country were mostly devoid of integrity. Take a look at all his friends and begin to use an integrity barometer on them and see the results.

The civil service is still filled with such people and it is this kind that needs to be weeded out. For as long as Khama’s loyalists remain in government; Masisi will achieve very little or nothing in his efforts to rule this country. The nation has given this man a new mandate and surely he cannot fulfil it with people who are serving as impediments. It is time they are uprooted. Otherwise President Masisi will end up not achieving any one of the goals he set for his term.

Of course every leader requires and demands loyalty on the people he serves the nation with. But the primary objective is to exercise our loyal in consideration of the interests of the country and not the leader. It is unfortunate that in Africa the first consideration goes to the person rather than the nation. The status must now change

Unless Masisi purges the civil service, he is going to be firing blank rounds throughout his presidency. It comes out very clearly that the current matter before the courts regarding “Butterfly” has been deliberately mishandled in order to discredit the state. Some things are just too obvious not to miss.

The purging must be done in all sectors of the civil service including the military. Of course the military is not part of the civil service because they are governed by the BDF Act while the rest fall under the Civil Service Act. In fact BDF should be the starting point taking into account that some senior officers have been displaying signs of disloyalty. Some have been rubbing their shoulders with the former president.

In the past there have been rumours of a coup plot and this is the right time that the military is examined to make sure that none of them remains with divided loyalty. Some senior officers at BDF have placed their integrity on the line several times and should not be trusted with the security of this country including that of the president.

Many of the people whose loyalty has been put to question are not just ordinary people, they are senior personnel in government. It is good that anyone holding the position of director and above has been employed on contract. This was initially a strategy to purge those who fail to display their loyalty, but the same can now work on our behalf as country when the weeding exercise takes place.

Purging is a common exercise in any government and it is a necessary evil. Around 1993, the government was running that infamous “deadwood” exercise. People lost jobs because they were not performing. Sometimes governments go on retrenchment exercises with the sole intention of offloading the excess baggage of workers with divided loyalty.

Masisi must not fall into the trap of cloning people after himself in the quest for loyalty. As a leader he needs to begin now with a purging exercise for those with divided loyalty and further reinforce the behaviour of those who consider Botswana first. The civil service needs a complete paradigm shift. The shift needs to be modelled on the top two principles of the British military which are integrity and loyalty.


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