Sunday, September 27, 2020

“There is need for courtesy in our public debates”

Dear Editor

It is inevitable that the level of political debate in Botswana is bound to be high and intense as a result of the open and democratic nature of our system. That is always a welcome development. It is, however, regrettable that some commentators seek to heap personal abuse on their political opponents, especially through newspaper articles.

In the Sunday Standard of August 29, 2007, I wrote an article appealing for political tolerance, trust, respect, peace and further advised politicians to conduct themselves in a professional manner. In other words they must see themselves, more importantly, as people with rights and responsibilities.

Again in Sunday Standard of January 14, 2007, I raised concerns about the discourteous nature of political articles written by one Arafat K. Khan of the BNF Youth League. Lo and behold, Khan is at it again! His Mmegi article of June 25, 2008 shows a clear lack of respect for other citizens’ views. In typical Arafat K. Khan fashion, he launched a scathing attack on me for being supportive of the President. He goes on to label me a ‘bootlicker” and, worse still, compares me to a “dog” and says I once barked at him! In the same article, he launched a scathing attack on the President and the BDP’s deputy Secretary General Kentse Rammidi.
He referred to Rammidi as a psychopath (i.e. a person suffering from chronic mental disorder). He referred to President Khama as being born “with qualities of a dictator and raised to become a dictator”.

Khan, is of course, entitled to his opinion. He is also free to express himself freely in the press, but his writing must reflect some personal integrity. Differing with other people politically in a democratic society as ours, does not give him the right to insult and abuse anyone. He does not have the right to heap abuse on people whose only sin is to hold views that differ from his. He must, therefore, learn to counter facts with facts.
Arafat Khan clearly needs help in the form of a political party that can guide him. I wish him and his bellowed BNF peace.

I conclude by reminding Khan, once more, that cultures differ from country to country, place to place, one group of people to another. Our norms, beliefs, moral values, habits and collective attitudes play an important part in our present and future political stability, setting and landscape. Arafat is free to express his views, disagree, condemn, and dispute his opponents’ views but must not forget our culture of BOTHO and TLOTLO. Arafat K. Kahn and I have a saying: “Maitseo namane ya moroba”

Yours truly,

MacDonald Peloetletse

(Peloetletse is a member of the Culture and Publicity Committee of the BDP. He writes in his personal capacity)

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

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