When we appoint one of us to the position of President of the Republic of Botswana, we do more than a legal act – we carry out an act of faith.
This we do by forgiving this individual for any future wrongs that he or she may do to us.
To understand the depth of our act of forgiveness, we need to take into account the fact that we give this individual command of the armed forces.
Picture a situation where you give an individual a loaded gun and provide this individual with a trained killer and then inform the individual that you forgive them in advance should they decide to instruct the trained killer to shoot you.
We further give this individual control over the public service, which is effectively an unlimited source of human intellectual capital. This pool of resources consists of lawyers, accountants, engineers, doctors, psychologists and other equally formidable professionals. Picture a situation where this unlimited intellectual capital is instructed to destroy you.
I believe we create a protective veil around this individual so that we have one amongst us who can rise above our cesspool of gossip, tribalism, greed and corruption. This provides us with an opportunity to have an individual who can at all material times bring us into line and rejuvenate our moral situation. Even if this individual was to deviate from acceptable conduct during his tenure as President, he has an opportunity, because of our prior forgiveness to reinvent himself as a higher moral authority at no cost.
When an individual in this position reaches out from this protective veil to embrace the corrupt, and to descend into our depraved world he robs the nation of the opportunity to redeem and reinvent itself. If he becomes captive to sectarian interests, he equally robs the nation of this valuable commodity to start afresh.
When a President embraces nepotism and tribalism, he rubbishes our act of forgiveness and makes us cheap. He hurts the soul of this nation
I believe an individual who understands the nature of our act of forgiveness will realize that he can at anytime break free of whatever hold sectarian interests may have over him or her, for if the nation has forgiven him or her no group can hold him or her to account on the basis of whatever private agreement he may have entered into. He or she is free at all times to come to the nation for the nation to assert the validity and extent of its forgiveness.
When any sectarian group reaches across this protective veil and corrupts the sanctity of the space that we have created for this individual, they corrupt the soul of this nation. When individuals who know that they do not have the intellectual capital to properly advice the President do so position themselves, they intrude into this sacred space and corrupt our soul. They hurt us.
The gatekeeper to this sacred space is the individual who occupies the office of President and not the nation. So if this space is corrupted, this individual should not look to the nation for reasons but into his own soul and character. The nation has provided the space, liberation and protection to the individual. It is the individual’s character deficiencies that allow corruption of the space. It is the individual who reaches out of this space. It is the individual who invites others into this space.
Even if the person we appoint as President is corrupt, he can still exercise moral authority over corrupt ministers and officials, for he has something that they do not have, our prior forgiveness. This person needs not fear exposure of their own corrupt activities, for if they do, then they do not have faith in our constitution, and it does not make sense to swear to uphold the constitution when you do not subscribe to it.
To my knowledge God does not forgive in advance but rather requires a certain act or conduct in order to forgive us for our sins. We, therefore, place ourselves into a position which none of the Gods of the major religions has ever risked. We forgive in advance. We must however understand that in national affairs the people are God.
Since the people are God in national affairs, I see no reason why a person we appoint President need doubt our word, as expressed in the constitution, that we forgive him in advance. Where this person believes they need to intrude into our bedrooms to know what we think about them, then they do not understand what being President of the Republic of Botswana is about.
When the person we appoint President believes that he needs to listen to only one class of people or those that he trusts then he has completely missed the plot. He fails to enjoy to the fullest the opportunity created by our act of forgiveness. Our act of forgiveness allows him to listen to all, for if in the process he errs, he is already forgiven. The opportunity created by our act of forgiveness may result in a positive for the nation, and since there is no risk of injury to the President why not listen to all.
In Setswana we have something about dogs and their vomit. It is taken as the lowest form of depravity.
Our constitutional act says that even if the President behaves like a dog that eats its own vomit, he is still better than us all. He can still stand in front of us on a higher moral standing, and any snide remarks about pots and kettles, or goats and what is on their heads is irrelevant. This is an incredible act of love for our President, and any individual who occupies this office and fails to appreciate this, does not deserve to be in that position. What greater act of love do they want from the nation? If there are any doubts, they are personal doubts and not constitutional and require some other treatment.
Effectively, our President can be tempted by the corrupt but such information is of no value to the corrupt, for our President is forgiven but the corrupt person is not. No corrupt person can ever trust our President. Anytime there is a knock at the door, the corrupt person must wonder whether the President has decided to become a State witness.