Wednesday, August 10, 2022

“Open letter to President Khama”

I write, as a Motswana and a concerned parent. Unfortunately I find myself in a helpless situation where no other authority exists through which I can voice my concerns, except to address the President himself.

I am very concerned that continuous actions by your leadership appear to be steadily heading the country towards a future of instability.

The Office of the President’s endless talk about civil war is unprecedented – in a country that believes in “ntwaa kgolo ke ya molomo and mmua lebe obua la gagwe”.

The unexplained explosives near the Office of the President!

The labelling of political opponents as foreigners. After so many years of hard work, it is very unsettling for the highest office to be perceived as resuscitating tribalism and divisions.
The President’s continued public reference to other adults as undisciplined ÔÇô in a country where adults are viewed as society’s role models!

The leadership’s total indifference to the reality that the Botswana Democratic Party, being the only government Botswana has had, mirrors badly on the country’s image and stability projections if it continues to disintegrate while still in government!

The now dominant impression that the President expels any member of the governing party who expresses a diverging view ÔÇô in a country that has raised its children to believe in “puso ya batho ka batho and Kgosi ke Kgosi ka batho”.

The government’s arbitrary and abrupt introductions of new laws, with absolutely no regard for the negatively affected, are unprecedented.

For over 40 years, Batswana have been conditioned to be peaceful and to believe they are their own masters in their own land. We are accustomed to being convinced, than dictated to.

We are not expecting such sudden and arbitrary prohibitions as the most recently affecting poor Chibuku traders, in the Kgatleng District, despite their protection by the Liquor Act. These poor citizens’ trade has been tolerated for years and to give them three days to stop trading is a gross abuse of power. What is happening in Kgatleng is a reflection of the current Government.

The growing impression that under this administration, Parliament will eventually become irrelevant!
The barring of independent news media from covering the Presidency!

The growing impression that the President listens only to advice that he agrees with.
It was particularly shocking to hear people in the North East being told recently their Member of Parliament is a Zimbabwean.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Attorney General and SPILL chairman, Phandu Skelemani, of all people, should know that everybody in Tsamaya has Zimbabwean relatives.

Your Excellence, despite our flawed constitution, it would help if the President could accept some form of accountability. The general public used to influence government behaviour through party local structures, the central committee, the Minister, the Members of Parliament and the judiciary. Under the current administration all these organs have been rendered totally ineffective, if not irrelevant.

It is scary, Your Excellence, when the head of State is completely unconcerned that his party is falling apart and is perceived to despise Parliament.

It is increasingly becoming difficult to shake off the thought that maybe the President has another way of staying in power indefinitely, without a party or Parliament.

This is an extremely troubling thought, Your Excellence. This pattern of leadership has, in some parts of the world, produced long term chaos.

Gatwe, when Robert Mugabe was still a new Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, he told a gathering in Malawi that Africa would be a wonderful place if ‘we could rid it of all the dictators’. That was, in the 80s, before he became a fully fledged dictator himself.
Even at the height of his popularity, in the 80s, Mugabe did to his political opponents what only dictators do ÔÇô unfortunately, very few people noticed.

False assassination attempts, endless court appearances for opponents, ordinary citizens thrown into old mine pits for cheering the opponent, spreading the divide-and-rule strategy, etc.
At some point he tried to export this strategy to Botswana claiming Botswana-Zimbabwe relations could be better if it was not for the Kalanga elements in the Botswana Defence Force who were “itching for a fight with Zimbabwe”.

Truth was the BDF was only defending Batswana villagers along the Zimbabwe-Botswana border where Mugabe’s soldiers were subjecting the villagers to kidnappings and harassment.
Three Batswana fathers, all from one family, are still missing to this day after being kidnapped from Maitengwe village.

Your Excellence, the story of how Mugabe became a dictator is the same with all dictators internationally. The pattern is the same.

They are not necessarily born as dictators. They are created by short-sighted cheerleaders around them. In some cases, the country’s own population actively encourages them only to regret later.
In the 80s, it was impossible to convince most Shona speaking Zimbabweans that Mugabe was bad for the future. But today, they almost all wish him dead.

Your Excellence, we do not want you to go in the same direction. You are Seretse Khama’s son and people generally like you! It would hurt all of us.

My humble layman’s opinion, Your Excellence, is that the current Presidency desperately needs to replace the cheerleaders with people who can implement the President’s best qualities ÔÇô efficiency, simplicity, etc ÔÇô without bringing out the dictator.

Your Excellency, there is a dictator in all of us. It is a question of management.

My layman’s observation is that the president’s current circle is so bent on revenge, if not harnessed will eventually destroy all the President’s initially very high goodwill ratings.
Your Excellence, your most vocal critics are not necessarily your enemies.

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