Wednesday, October 20, 2021

“Deceitful Young Ministers”

Politicians do lie about things. At times, I wonder why politicians believe they can lie when their untruths are so easily uncovered. I know, “lies” is a pretty strong word. But a fabrication, taking liberties with the truth, bearing false witness against thy neighbor, call it what you will…when you knowingly say something that’s not true, that is lying.

In the African political context, it has become cancerous. It is mostly painful when such lies come from young Cabinet Ministers. I’m constantly amazed by how often politicians lie and of course, their unwillingness to admit that they lied. In Botswana unlike in some countries such as the UK for instance, it looks like errant Ministers have generally been getting away with murder, have become extremely too big for their boots and very arrogant. Some of them seriously need to be rehabilitated and coached on public speaking, ethical conduct and accountability.

But one wonders what makes a sackable offence for a politician in Botswana?

In the UK for instance, the First Secretary Damian Green, was forced to resign from cabinet due to “misleading” statements about police claims that porn was discovered on his office computer. In his resignation letter, Green admitted that his behavior broke the ministerial code. There was also the case of former International Development Secretary Priti Patel, who had to resign after breaking the ministerial code by having had undisclosed meetings with Israel officials, including the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when on holiday. She made misleading claims that the Foreign Office knew in advance of her visits (it didn’t).

In Botswana one would have hoped that the 5Ds, which include amongst others Discipline, Delivery and Dignity, would serve as a guide to the young over excited Cabinet Ministers by way of being morally upright, disciplined and having a high level of integrity.  Some of them can’t even distinguish between facts and fiction. It is worrying if not irritating for a Minister just to consistently believe in his / her lies and show no signs of remorse.

The situation is not helped by the lotto system used in the appointments of some of these cats. Ke kgobola kgobola fela, Faki mali  uzobona.

It is always advisable for our cabinet Ministers to collect factual and reliable information in order to enable them to respond objectively, honestly and being truthful when asked questions in Parliament. Clearly the way issues of some institutions are being handled might end up damaging the Ministers themselves as well as the heads of the institutions.

There is need for clarity especially the treatment of staff of some institutions. The witchhunt and hypocrisy in how their staff are being treated demonstrates and a clear lack of RESPECT with the continued reckless, careless and  distasteful utterances made by the political ragamuffins, fueled and supported by bureaucrats. Some of whom are just BITTER.

There are many interpretations which are so wrong and also not helping to solve problems regarding salary increment at some of these institutions. Recently, Hon Dr P Butale, (Gaborone Central) asked the Minister of Tertiary Education Research, Science and Technology on the progress made so far in improving the conditions of service for personnel at the University of Botswana, particularly with regard to the past increment for public servants (3&4%) respectively.

The Minister responded by stating that the conditions of service are decided upon by the relevant council or Board based on the ability of these institutions to sustain themselves. However, the worst was to come and the Minister completely MISSED the plot.

He told the Parliament a lot of un-truths in responses he gave.  

“Madam Speaker, it has happened in the past that UB Council authorised an increment without the knowledge of Government. That was in 2015 when there was a 35 per cent increment, which was done by UB without the knowledge of Government. That is why we find ourselves perhaps in this financial quagmire at UB, because Government did not know about it and hence it depleted the finance resources at UB.  We had to bail UB this year through a request because they had run short of money. The ministry had to bail them out to the tune of P231 million e e leng gore it was not budgeted for. Thank you”.

The most honourable thing for the Minister of The Ministry of Tertiary Education Research, Science and Technology”, Hon Dr A Madigela is to do himself a favour, go back to Parliament and retract on his statement. He also has to hold a joint press conference with his Permanent Secretary and retract, MUST instruct his PS to issue a press release A.S.A.P and retract on the response that was made by the Minister. It is not the gospel truth and the Minister knows that too. I am just wondering as to why?

Guess what dear readers? Hon Madigela decided to be economical with the truth. The truth of the matter is that the 35% affected allowances ONLY and not salaries just like the many allowances the Ministers, PSP and his Permanent Secretary for illustrative purposes receive. Again what is so ironic is that other public universities are also getting the 35% on allowances and one wonders what crime have those at Mmadikolo committed. Why so MUCH HATE? BUAN gets it and BIUST gets it as well.

There is a system of discipline in place with risk and reward,” Be good, and you can play on the field ÔÇô become a minister. Be bad, and we will take it away and you’ll be benched. Strong messages need to be sent to these cats, who are on a deliberate crusade to use their positions to be economical with the truth, undermine and di-respect Mmadikolo. Their continued and consistent reckless conduct coupled with vicious tirades should not be left un-challenged. It is now irritating. With bureaucrats who are so determined to BRING Mmadikolo to its knees, cats cannot even uphold to the public administration principles and ethos.

Now it is time to act. Sack them.

Botswana does not require such kind of leaders, going forward. It has to go through a serious transitional face of reconstruction. Yes, reconstruction and accepting boldly that the mistakes committed in the past are not repeated. No more Lotto, no more appointments based on patronage and Broer mentality conniving behind the scenes with evil intensions.  Time is now to un-mask such kind of characters.

Intellectualism should not be superseded by feckless opportunism, silliness and greed, filtered with reckless, arrogant and overly pompous, irritating and deceitful young Ministers. Bo ÔÇô Mafikizolo as well as some BITTER bureaucratic Mombas.

 The new crop of young Ministers and Deputy Ministers are often a bunch of ill-prepared, often ill-mannered, Ministers, deputy Ministers whose energy and zeal far exceeds their wisdom and preparation. Our current President has merely ensured that the mediocrity prevails by appointing some half baked, clueless Ministers and deputy Ministers who are not a perfect fit and more often just don’t get it. They are only good as show offs, loud mouthed fit for Tsabong pubs and sheebeens. Worse is when the bureaucratic machinery fails to be apolitical and fail to maintain high level of professionalism.

It’s a shame, that we have this state of affairs that trades high public office and the conduct of the public’s business–for short-term partisan advantage. What it does signal, at best, is short-term political opportunism and a cynical trivialization of government. 

The new political leadership MUST look at the funding model of government to the so called private Universities.  There is absolutely no need to try and ridicule Mmadikolo and try and suffocate it of resources and pump money to the BOGUS so called Universities, some of which operate in filling stations offering some so called market appealing degrees. The University is not a vocational training institution.

It is very naïve if not irresponsible for a young excited Minister to maliciously submit claims that MMADIKOLO offers courses that are not appealing to the market, when in actual fact HE KNOWS he is being economical with the truth.

*Thabo Lucas Seleke writes from Seleme Farm, Rasesa

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper