A debate erupted recently on facebook after someone had asked the question, “amongst all the four presidents this country has had, who do you think was the best and state your reasons? I don’t have a distinctively best picking as all of them belong to a wrecked scheme. To me modomkrag ke modomkrag. They are invariable. They only diverge in skin texture, elevation and otherwise. Their mould and character is one. But I took issue with those who seemed to believe Rre Mogae was the best and this is how I threw a stick at a python (go latlhela thwari legonyana):
I have a problem with people who are all praises for former President of Botswana Rre Mogae, some who even go to the extent of proclaiming him as the best president we ever had. Many might be doing so out of ignorance because they were still wet behind the ears when Mogae was president and they may have missed out on most of his scandals and short comings. To me he is the worst president we ever had, maybe even worse than Khama.
I mean save for his relentless fight against HIV/AIDS, which we should all commend him for, what else can we really say is the legacy of Rre Mogae on the positive side? Zero. In fact there are more negatives about his tenure than there is any good; beginning with the time he was vice president up to when he was the president of this republic.
When Mogae was Vice President and Minister of Finance and Development Planning, he confiscated tractors and farming implements from mostly Barolong farmers who were struggling to service their NDB loans. Here Mogae failed the test terribly when he couldn’t apply mercy in place of punitive intervention as at that time, the country was plunged by severe drought and the yield was depressingly poor. His actions have resulted in the death of a once flourishing agricultural enterprise. Barolong farms which was once the bread basket of this country, is still struggling to get back to its former glory. What kind of an economist kills agriculture, the basis of any industrial policy?
Mogae as an economist never demonstrated that he cared about the empowerment of indigenous Batswana. It was during his time as both Vice President and President of this country that we saw construction companies owned by indigenous Batswana such as Tswana Builders, Thoraboroko Construction and others collapse, chiefly because of lack support from his government. Instead we saw an increased number of Chinese companies winning almost all the mega tenders, with Batswana being pushed to the periphery of the economic participation in the area of construction.
Who will not remember his insensitive statement at Mogoditshane main kgotla, made around the safety of a contingent of army guards, when he said, “ga ke reke dithopho”, in his attempt to justify the brute with which his government treated the so called squatters by demolishing their houses without offering any compensation? Many never recovered from that ordeal.
It should be noted that it was under the Mogae Leadership both as Vice President and President that land problems ranging from land grabs by the elite, slow allocation of land for residential and other uses, became manifest. Most of the land application lists at land board, dates back to the early 90s when the economist Mogae was the Vice President and Minister of Finance and Development Planning.
The list about the negatives of Mogae’s leadership keeps swelling. Many Batswana are still baffled at the devaluation of the pula which greatly eroded the value of our money and our buying power. Trying to justify this scandal is akin to adding salt to the wound. Most Batswana are importers and not exporters. Devaluing the pula did hurt them greatly. Some observers suspect that devaluation of the pula was self serving.There is also the North South Carrier water pipes scandal which we are still feeling its effects to date. Mogae’s government refused expert advice in the use of pipes that were manufactured by Owens Corning. Those in the know had said another company Motswedi, which Mogae was a director, was a subsidiary of Owens Corning, resulting in possible conflict of interest when it came to addressing the issue of poor quality pipes.
How can we forget that it is Mogae who gave us Khama in his bid to save his own political carrier? I mean Khama served as Mogae’s Vice President for his entire term of office. How couldn’t he have picked his inability to lead for so many years and only start telling us how bad he is today? If Khama is Mogae’s worst mistake, he must put on the big boy’s pants and boldly tell us so. He must also tell us that he did all that to save his political carrier and nothing else.
It is no cloak and dagger that it was Rre Mogae who taught Khama to undermine and disregard the law when he unconstitutionally gave him a sabbatical leave of one year and allowed him to fly the BDF choppers. The Botswana Congress Party saw fault in this and reported the matter to our own version of the Public Protector, the Ombudsman. It is common knowledge that Mogae subsequently disregarded a remedial action from the Ombudsman.
It was under Mogae’s leadership that Air Botswana- a national asset almost got sold for a song was it not for the BCP that fought tooth and nail to halt it. The first president to fight with his Attorney General is Rre Mogae. Where is the tolerance here? We know that he chickened out fearing humiliation.
For those who think Rre Mogae was not vindictive, maybe they need to be reminded about this: when a local newspaper likened him to a shrinking president, he responded by banning government advertisement with the paper. If this is not being vindictive then maybe being vindictive has a new meaning. Is it not Mogae who deported Professor Kenneth Good for saying things that touched on the rot of his administration? I rest my case.
Mogae must apologise for giving us Dr Khama then retreating to his Pakalane hideout, leaving us to clean the mess alone. We are in the mess we are in chiefly because of Mogae’s gargantuan appetite for power.
I can go on and on about his shortcomings”.