Professor Monageng Mogalakwe of the University of Botswana (UB) says that there is no correlation between the theme of the Dalai Lama conference and what is actually happening in on the ground in Botswana. The Dalai Lama will be in Botswana in August to participate in a conference themed Botho/Ubuntu: A Dialogue on Spirituality, Science and Humanity with the Dalai Lama.” The conference is being organised by the United States-based Mind & Life Institute (which the Dalai Lama is the honorary chairman of) and will be held at UB where Mogalakwe teaches sociology.
The first example Mogalakwe gives to back up his contention is of the latest edition of the Global Happiness Report which ranks Botswana 142th out of 155 countries that were surveyed.
“Key variables in ranking happiness include standard of living and good governance – or more precisely, lack of it as in the case of Botswana. If Botswana can get so lowly rated in terms of happiness, it is not a very good exemplar of botho/ubuntu, spirituality, fellow feeling and humanity, and does not qualify to host the conference. Just look at the rampant acts of corruption and the looting of the state coffers by the ruling clique whilst hundreds of thousands of our people wallow in abject poverty,” Mogalakwe says.
Southern Africa is generally the epicentre of income inequality and alongside neighbours South and Namibia, Botswana is one of the five most unequal countries in the world. To buttress his point about the looting of state coffers, Mogalakwe cites the example of a company that has been linked to President Ian Khama (Wilderness Safaris) being interested in the dubious acquisition of Air Botswana. The company has since announced that it is withdrawing its bid but Mogalakwe’s larger point is that circumstances in which it became interested in Air Botswana should never have arisen. He likens present-day Botswana to Zaire (renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo) during the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko: “I call this Zairenization of Botswana. There is certainly no sense of botho/ubuntu, spirituality let alone a sense of fellow feeling and humanity in the shameful looting of state coffers that has come to characterize Botswana more recently.” For scale and context, Mobuto ÔÇô who ruled Zaire between 1965 and 1997 ÔÇô embezzled over P50 billion from state coffers.