Sunday, April 21, 2024

“Schilly was a chief of the Bakwena”

Sometime ago, I read an article in one of the local papers dealing with the history of the Bakwena, I believe it was by a certain Dr. Ramsay, wherein it was mentioned that at one time a gentleman called Schilly was kgosi of the Bakwena.

An explanation was tendered that Schilly was actually Sechele. It came out that the white man who wrote the name Schilly was not able to correctly spell Sechele.

Imagine a situation where our people did not have oral traditions and memory that quite obviously show that Bakwena were never ruled by anyone called Schilly.

If the name Schilly found its way into textbooks for the education of our children, over time it will become acceptable that indeed Bakwena were at one time rule by Schilly.

The same approach can be used to look at the economic leadership of this country. At the beginning it was generally held that the purpose of the economy is to serve the needs of the people. In the era of Masire the economy became a stand-alone activity that needed to be looked at in isolation.

For so long as the economy showed positive and impressive growth ours was evidence of prudent management. Thus we could have significant growth in the economy unmatched by growth in employment and still be held out to be a success story.

This shift in emphasis from the economy serving the needs of our people to it being an isolated national attribute that could be looked at without regard to employment creation was further entrenched during the Mogae era.

By the time that Mogae left office it was now accepted that the economy served itself and the people served the economy. It was acceptable to tell our people that the economy did not allow the carrying out of planned development projects.

Much as some people were opposed to Rre Khama’s spending methods or choices when he assumed office, I was pleased with what I saw coming out. In my view Rre Khama was moving away from a situation where the economy instead of the needs of our people took precedence. He was effectively saying “Why should we accept that there is no funding, why are our economic planners not raising finance for planned projects?” I liked that, for it pierced the veil behind which poor economic planners could hide. As far as I am concerned we cannot have a situation where economic planners tell us there is no funding for projects without them accounting for what they have done to raise funds.

One must here note that it was during the Masire era that efforts to do more with our diamonds were resisted. It is generally accepted that we could have raised more from our diamonds if Masire had not been able to hide behind the “there is no money for developments” excuse. Had we taken the position that it is not enough for the people at Finance to tell us that there is no money and that they should tell us what efforts they have put into raising funds Masire would not have gotten away with what he did.

Mogae made small concessions in the diamond beneficiation direction but he never let go of the veil. His government continued to exploit the shift in emphasis from the economy serving our people to our people serving the economy. So when Khama came along I was hopeful, that now we have a leader who knows what the issue is about.

Of late, I have noticed that the courage he initially showed has waned. He also sings the same song “due to the economic crisis, there are no funds for development projects”. It is very sad to see a leader succumb to what is an inferior position in the sphere of nation building. The idea behind wider economic zones is really about putting the economy before people. That is why it is so difficult for our government to formulate a citizen economic empowerment law.

I would venture to say that when Khama came to power we were close to getting a citizen economic empowerment law.

Unfortunately the economists have scared him from this. Now we have a geographic term, local, replacing a national term, citizen. I cannot for the life of me see what it is our economist have that can scare a president so much.

I mean all he need do is come to the nation and tell it what it is the economists are saying and let the nation interrogate their submissions. I have in the past argued that presidential immunity allows a president to listen to all, for if in the end he is mistaken the nation has forgiven him.

For a long time, our parliament has been passing motions only for the nation to be told by the longest serving Member of Parliament that only two types of motions are binding on the executive. How different is this from the Schilly and Sechele issue?

I would submit that there is none. Our people have been in the same position as someone who does not know of Sechele and who reads somewhere that at one time someone called Schilly was leader of Bakwena.

I mean, people have rated members of parliament on the basis of the number of motions that they have sponsored in parliament.

At no time has Kwelagobe stood up to inform the nation that not all motions of parliament are binding and that only two were actually binding on the executive.

Now we all know that parliament made a law that empowered the executive to withdraw P50 million at a time from the national funds without going to parliament.

What this means is that the executive can finance itself without parliament. This will leave only the motion of no confidence binding on the executive.

As we all know a motion of no confidence in the president will lead to dissolution of parliament and loss of employment for members of parliament. If Rre Kwelagobe is correct then parliament is useless to our people.

Now the media has for a long time put forth Rre Kwelagobe as a champion of democracy. The question to ask it what sort of champion fails to inform people of the inadequacy of the instrument that supposedly evidences democracy.

Recently there was an article in one of the local papers that suggested that Rre Kwelagobe had bought a plot in the controversial Nchindo land. Assuming without conceding the correctness of the article one wonders why this report was carried only in that paper.

I submit that it was not carried in the other papers because they are sympathetic to Kwelagobe and are keen to protect his credentials.

Effectively for all their posturing as watchdogs they are selective in what they see and what they want the pubic to see.
If it had been someone close to Khama who had bought a plot in the controversial land, I bet they would have published.

Even now they have failed to see Khama’s concession on the media practitioners law.
When Khama made the concession in his state of the nation address, that one should place their faith in the lord when adverse reports are made about them in the media, they failed to see this for what it was. An acknowledgement that the media practitioner’s law went too far and sought to give protection that in reality can be found elsewhere.

In my view all the private media now has to do is agree with Khama, that indeed these things are best left to the good lord. The media can approach Khama’s government with a view to identify those aspects of the law that are best left to the lord. That should not be too difficult a task.

We must appreciate that in the power game, the powerful never lose, they make concessions. If we push for ultimate victory in order to humiliate or let our egos take control we invariably fail to seize the moment. Our private media has been extended a hand in a very subtle way, and that is as good as it gets. I believe in mathematics they sometimes work with approximate solutions. It is not the perfect answer but it resolves the equation.

Effectively this may turn out to be a good year for the private media, but a bad year for those of us who had discerned a positive move towards putting people and nationhood before the economy, but who have seen the light flicker and burn out.

We do however appreciate that it takes a lot of courage and strength to achieve a shift in thinking that was entrenched over a period of 30 years. It is just that one cannot avoid being disillusioned when one sees the most popular president that this country has had succumb to the misguided philosophy of our economist.

A philosophy that is self-serving, for it allows economists to be judges in their own cause. They tell us that there is no money and we have to swallow that. We cannot ask them what they have done with the resources that we have placed in their custody to generate funds to serve our needs.


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