Sunday, September 27, 2020

“Ministers are using inside information to enrich themselves”

Kabo Kgoboti

As the country’s political leadership continues to be showered with accolades of good governance from the international institutions, thousands of our young people are reeling under the adverse effects of unequal wealth distribution.

That has become the trademark of the BDP government.

For a lot of young people, the economic and political miracle that Botswana is said to be remains an elusive dream.

And this despite the perennial choruses by the ruling party that we are a success.
So far so-called citizen empowerment has only succeeded in maintaining the status quo.
Few families are the main beneficiaries of the skewed economic policies of the BDP.
Abject poverty among the marginalised groups of our nation remains rife.

As a former University of Botswana student who is living in poverty each day, I feel compelled to stand up and speak against the prevailing harsh economic conditions that the youth of this country find themselves in.

I do so fully aware that I, as many others have done before, I will suffer victimisation on account of exercising my right to freedom of speech.
In a country where nepotism and corruption is well entrenched, it is only those whose conscience is twisted and corrupted that can remain silent anymore.

I refuse to be such.

Commentators on Botswana’s economy have elected to fix their attention on accounting and financial sophistry.

They have elected to neglect the voices of the poor ordinary citizen on the streets who only ask for nothing but just the means to put bread on the table.
Poverty, it would seem, is now regarded as a God given misfortune that the ordinary citizens must embrace without question.

Hence the government has devised a number of brainwashing initiatives: Vision 2016, the so-called pillars of the nation and other such programmes that seek to trick the poor to attribute their poverty to own inabilities as opposed to factors that determine how wealth is distributed.

I maintain that the system of governance through-out capitalist oriented economies has one striking feature: the ability to manipulate the concept of patriotism and self-reliance to brainwash the poor into submitting themselves into social injustices.
In the name of one’s love for the country, the poor are systematically programmed to remain silent and obedient to the establishment for the sake of peace.

In so doing, the masses fall prey to the few elites who rule the country for personal gain.
I have observed that currently, a majority of the tertiary graduates, teachers, administrators and other professionals are languishing in poverty due to the unavailability of jobs. I remember sometime back when the minister of Foreign Affairs, Lt. General Merafhe, stated that the youth must rid themselves of the culture of entitlement.
The man further said government bears no responsibility for providing employment to the youth.

Well, it is a given that when one is blessed with so much wealth and has no personal knowledge of poverty he can say anything like the retired General said.

As things stand, it is extremely difficult for our youth to lift themselves beyond poverty levels as there are no viable affirmative programmes that can be accessed by youth outside the ruling class.
It is only the children of ministers and their friends who are basking in the glory of the ‘African miracle’ that Botswana is purported to be.

The so-called financial assistance provided by the likes of CEDA to the youth is mere smokescreens that seek to conceal the cruelty of our government policies.

It is a myth that young people can compete on an equal footing for government tenders with established big companies within which ministers are major shareholders.

Often, attention has been focused on foreigners who come here to milk Botswana of its wealth.
In so doing, focus has been shifted from an equally important concern: the few families of our lot who seem to have an entitlement to all the good things Botswana has to offer.

Take, for example, the tourism sector.
I am informed that only a certain clique of high ranking politicians within the ruling party remains deeply connected to the industry.

It is these high ranking politicians who are turning a blind eye to racism that is practiced against Batswana tourists and Batswana workers through-out the country’s safaris.

Young people are asked to remain on the sidelines as entertainers of the foreign tourists through traditional dancing and selling cheap merchandise.
I graduated 5 years ago.

To date, I am still to find employment.
I am now running a dying car washing business.
My business is now closing as sons and daughters of cabinet ministers, with more financial muscle, have entered the market and forced us out of service.

I have tried CEDA but I have realised that just like many before it, CEDA will not help me as long as there exists no programmes that deliberately aim towards ensuring that fairness and equity prevail.
Without a deliberate effort to protect children from poor backgrounds CEDA will fail.

We need to prevent ministers and their immediate families from abusing their positions. There is need for comprehensive legislative frameworks and independent corruption preventing agencies that aim to curtail misuse of office.

The use of inside information by ministers for purposes of self-aggrandizement needs to be checked.

It is deeply troubling that a member of parliament in the mould of Mma Tshireletso can go public and state that she is buying large chunks of land at Mmamabula for purposes of taking advantage of the Mmamabula Project.

Comments by the MP some months ago epitomised and constituted an embodiment of a corrupt regime that seeks to alienate the poor masses from the wealth of the nation.

How long are we going to stand for this?

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.