Tuesday, May 17, 2022

“People shall call you bold but the people shall never pay your bills”

My advice to you Comrade Richard Khumoekae follows as a consequent to the termination of your Contract of Employment by the Francistown Technical College.

As a former University of Botswana Student Representative Council President, you have to learn that student politics do not go beyond the boundaries of varsity fence.

It is a painful reality that we have all had to deal with upon our completion of school and joining on a full time basis the mainstream society.
Reformists have attributed this as a necessity to the reforms in international human rights activism. Some have blamed the advancement of capitalism where economic standing dictates focus.

I have listened to your radio interviews and also read your Facebook statuses where you pronounced that you have been fired for authoring a book about a dictatorial regime.

In both interactions, you continue with the same tack of student politics. Ours is a world where it is easy to become an irritant despite your context of ‘fighting for freedom’.

We have been there and done that until we grew up and came to a realisation that nobody really cares.

In employment law, you have not been fired: Rather your former employer simply recognised that they would not be able to proceed with you due to whatever reasons they advanced.
Even if you don’t agree that they don’t have money to pay you, you are probably right that they were just being polite and that the main reason is your book; ‘the scandalous murdering of democracy’ where you accuse everyone in government leadership position that you don’t agree with as corrupt and nepotistic.

You are not saying anything new, you have only written a book about it.

Among the comradely advices that I have to offer you is that; you must learn the reality of being nice and polite to the employer even if they have fired you. Being loud and negatively critical puts you on a job seeker red list; what some perceive being black listed by potential employers. Your next potential employer begins to think twice about you. After spending enough time outside the fence of university you will learn as we have learnt that what you say about your past employer informs your next potential employer of your behavioural competencies and scares them away. The people shall call you bold and courageous but the people shall never pay your bills.

I can spend the whole year narrating many former student politics activists, myself included who have had to succumb to the reality of life and have had to accept that student politics serves only the demand of living and book allowance and it ends there. No one can point out any single thing from the demand of allowances that student activism is synonymous with. Yes this is pure capitalism but we must accept that the positions and strategies that once mobilised the victims and critics of capitalism are no longer, by themselves, effective.

The politics of Chris Hani, Oliver Thambo, Walter Sisulu, and Steven Bantu Biko have no pronounced belonging in the world of today.

They had a place back then. Their bills were taken care of by their political establishments. Unlike today where everyone has to fend for their children, their societies catered for one another as every child belonged to the society. Activists then had very little to worry about regarding who pays their bills, they mostly used candles and had no power bills to worry about, they collected fire wood and ploughed the backyards to feed homesteads. They seldom paid rentals.

The politics of Malcom X, Mahatma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King were also financed by huge movements of black consciousness and religious denominations. They were salaried so that they may continue the activism of emancipating the people. They were also funded by the global community who believed in their cause. The world was less complex. Today monies are rooted through United Nations institutions such as WHO, UNAIDS etc. You seldom hear of any institution funding human rights or political activists. We don’t know any activist funded in Botswana.

We all have to work hard to have a meaningful life. Botswana political landscape expect leaders to be well of. When you get beaten by scales of economics you get kicked to the side-lines like former comrade Robert Molefhabangwe who is now rugged and without any dignity attached to his physical stature.
The politics of Julius Malema is also different in that the South African economy is so huge that it allows a lot of entrepreneurs to fund whoever they want to fund and Julius Malema and his party benefits from its open set up. Their set up is practised on Karl Max views that “they (people) are therefore incapable of asserting their class interest in their own name, whether through a parliament or a convention. They cannot represent themselves, they must be represented. Their representative must at the same time appear as their master, as an authority over them, an unlimited governmental power…”

In Botswana the situation is upside down, the activists must lead by example. Not just example but economic example. The activists must be able to pay their own bills. They must drive their own cars and must be able to be an inspiration to coming generations. Coming generation look at the economy stability as key and without such an economic stability, the local activist fails to impress.

The school principal might have over reacted in thinking that you are a possible inciter to the other staff members to riot, strike or do anything undignified to the educational health of the students at Francistown Technical College. The principal might have on the other hand over reacted in thinking that you might incite the students of Francistown Technical College to riot against the school management and make the school ungovernable. The principal might have been protecting her job and her school. The school principal after all acted as any other institution leader, particularly a tertiary school, will have behaved given the current situations where it is fashionable to simply riot even for a school alcohol outlet. We never hear of riots involving complaints of a library or shortage of lectures. I am obviously giving a simple example of the University of Botswana.

You had not even completed your statutory probation. Having not completed your statutory probation gave the employer a good reason to get rid of you. Remember that probation is both for the employee and the employer to observe one another and consider if they can partner in whatever work has to be done, in your case to educate and develop the students of Francistown Technical College. You should have completed your probation, got your contract legalised and began with care and mature treading the publishing of your book.

We all want to publish, but there are always consequences hence it took Margaret Nasha, David Magang and many elders many years to be able to publish. They have taken care of the basics, their children are indeed grown up, and they have also bought houses and secured their comforts and futures. They are not looking for jobs. They are completing their lives. On the other hand you are beginning a life in a very unique country. This is not South Africa, it is Botswana, and the culture is embedded in the upbringing. The culture and indeed the leaders see irritants in people like you. The case of Dr. Margaret Nasha is a classical example.

Calm down, get a life. Get an economic standing and a comfort zone. Prove those elements of life. Pay your bills and taxes. Grow up and learn from those who attempted that route before. The sad truth is that in Botswana you have a voice when you are able to pay for your own decent meal. Before then you are nothing but a beggar just as you even beg for a job and cry loud for termination of contract. Beggars have never had the space within the confines of our society. Grow up and remember once more that the people shall call you bold and courageous but the people shall never pay your bills.

*GOFITILE KEOTSHWAETSE is a pseudonym. The Editor has agreed to use it as the writer is a serving teacher .


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