As the debate for Presidential retirement houses rages on, I believe it should be taken in the context of prudent management of the country’s resources vis-├á-vis justifying the introduction of cost sharing measures.
While we need to pay tribute to past presidents for their dedicated leadership, we need to do some sober soul searching and come up with affordable means to say thank you to our past Excellencies without risking depleting hard earned government money. This may include paying in kind; for example, bestowing in them some form of award from the Republic.
This is necessary because government has embarked on cost sharing measures of which a good measure of the populace is not in support of. To demonstrate the need for such (cost sharing) measures, government has to scale down projects that may be deemed luxurious and not in direct interest of the nation, and good examples are the Presidential retirement houses. Conscious people are left brooding on what they don’t know, indulging themselves on issues like: “Does His Excellency really deserve this multi-million Pula freebie?” “How many bachelor houses can we build for vulnerable groups of our society from the P20 million budget?” “As a developing nation, can we sacrifice education and health for a presidential retirement house?”
These are hard questions that face those of us who subscribe to the notion of retirement houses for our presidents.
Party politics aside, and building from the pillars of the national vision 2016, we can boldly say our presidents don’t deserve this preferable favour. Whether we like it or not, our nation is slowly becoming victims of sycophancy and boot-licking. Instead of uniting together in condemnation of societal ills that befall our country, we relegate ourselves too low as cheer-leaders. Now this reaction forms an effervescence called “the tail wagging the dog”.
I am reminded of the response from President Festus Mogae on assisting ex-MPs whose fortunes are dwindling, and the response was that those ex-MPs were paid salaries, allowances and gratuities for the job they rendered to the nation and so why pay them more?
Perfect answer! By the same logic, why should we extend this undue gratitude to retired presidents?
Of course, there are more challenging tasks that await us as a nation like sky rocketing unemployment figures, high statistics in crime and corruption, the AIDS pandemic, meager salaries for our workforce, retrenchments, people leaving below the poverty datum line etc, that dictates priority than retirement houses.
We need leaders who are sensitive.
There is no need for us to be paranoid and think that only dissidents from opposition parties are making noise. After all, we have told the whole universe that we embrace participatory democracy, including the voice of the minorities. So let it be!
BNF Youth League