Sunday, October 17, 2021

‘The ascent to Presidency: no easy walk’

It all started off in an old village situated South West of the city of Gaborone. Moshupa village, popularly known for its belief and practice in traditional medicine. The birth place of young Mokgweetsi Masisi who probably never dreamed that one day he would be the President of the Republic of Botswana.

As events unfolded, President Khama journeyed into the village to kick start his ‘good byes’ to the people one is not so sure he ever admired. The sojourn began here to give the humble minds the impression that indeed  Masisi was a preferred candidate to ascend to the Presidency of Botswana. To appreciate and comprehend the trend of events, it is best to examine the striking features.

The first impression was that the people who were given an opportunity to speak during the kgotla meeting ‘farewells’ were pre-selected so to ‘sing songs of praise’ to glorify a man who probably never played a meaningful role in their lives. It seems the ‘whistle blower’ had an upper hand in manipulating the situation such that those ‘who have’ could easily be persuaded to make immense contributions to give Khama a colourful send off. ‘Se ke moa wa bolope wa segologolo’. ‘Legale koo ba bolela fa bolope bo le mo moding.’

It is well known in Setswana that whenever preparations are made to celebrate a ‘tsamaya sentle’ occasion, a conducive environment is created during which people irrespective of class or creed  are given the opportunity to freely say out their feelings. Picking up a selected few individuals to speak at forums  such as the one alluded to is out side the norm and good practice. By so doing, one would be construed as a coward. Batswana are not fools. ‘Se ke bogatlapa’.

Imagine! Organisers with ‘limited scope of thinking’ simply identified groups of people who would easily be manipulated into drumming up what is only palatable to the listener. Mark! Days of ‘Bokassa and other despots’ the world has seen are long gone. Why should cabinet ministers be at pains to ‘tell’ constituents that the President was coming to bid them farewell  and should therefore   prepare for his visit. Batswana know what to do to receive a visitor, the best teacher known is their cultural upbringing. ‘Se se dirwang ke go nyenya batho.’

In his public address at Moshupa, President Kgama informed the nation that he would be handing over the reigns of power to his deputy His Honour Mokgweetsi Masisi in March 2018, a welcome assurance. But in part of  his address, Khama was quick to say already his cabinet has formally given him some tasks to perform on retirement. The expectation is that a sitting President should leave office honourably, the idea of awarding tasks should remain the initiative of a government without the incumbent. ‘Mo go tshwana fela le o re ke a tsamaya mme ke sale teng’. ‘Se ipolelele gore batho ba a go batla’. Sis  Boy! How far possible will you run the affairs of the nation with the former ‘Head Prefect’ at your side?

As we see it, the President is leaving office at a time when many people in various districts do not have water to drink. Big population centres such as Molepolole have been without portable water for long periods of time even though water is abundant in dams. If indeed the President had his heart for the people, he should have used his executive powers to award funds so to divert North/South water carrier to needy places. Densely populated areas  cannot (Molepolole) depend on bore hole supply alone.  ‘Go lebega Tautona a sa kgathale ka lenyora le’.

It appears assigned organisers prevent people  from raising issues such as the one referred to above. Yet, they want people to prepare for his kgotla visits. ‘O leboga motho, o mo lebogela eng o se na metsi.’ As we speak now, not a drop of water to drink in numerous homesteads. One will be a ‘real fool’ to help sustain another man who in turn does not care about  the daily welfare of the people.

Many projects to this end have not taken off in various districts because of poor planning. How far did the ‘Economic Stimulus Programme’ go? Some how along the way projects could not go through. A wise man could have used the ‘ESP’ to provide people with water. ‘Goromente o buile thata ka yone’. Prioritising projects should have been the in thing in the development process. As he leaves office, what  is the President saying to Batswana about unfinished  projects.

As we follow the trend of developments in the country we are bound to conclude that the leadership, blind as it seems, is teaching the ‘Youth’ that a government can play ‘hide’ and ‘seek’ with lives of  people. At recent forums addressed by HE the President only ‘puppets’ are given the opportunity to speak.  ‘Ga o kitla o itse kana o ikitse go fitlhelela batho ba go bolelela’.

It would have been wiser for HE to lay out the carpet by out-lining the challenges that government faced throughout his tenure in office. For example, the performance of Members of Parliament during Khama’s reign has been disgusting. They often acted like the ‘Pied Piper of Hamellin’ who led innocent souls into a dark and deep cave which then closed behind them.  ‘Mo go tshwana  fela o tshamekela mo bonong sa ga dimo’. ‘Mapalamente ba tshwanetse go bontsha puso diphatsa’.

In fact Legislators should at all times be on alert and advice government properly and meticulously on positive ways to approach a problem  rather than to accept situations without question. If I were President Khama I would use the constitutional powers vested in me to suspend the use of the EVM in the 2019 general elections. If much care is not taken, one day Batswana will find themselves  in a dark pit infested with poisonous snakes. ‘A ere o tlogela tiro o itse fa o tlogelela Batswana mathata a magolo’. ‘Malatsi a kajeno batho go itibile megotswana  ya bone fela’.

President Khama should inform the nation  that his major challenge as number one citizen was being a President, particularly assuming the reigns of power following steps of several great men of Africa. Luckily, as nature would have it, these great men had wives to lean on whenever they faced difficult times.

The former President Sir Ketumile Masire (may his soul rest in peace) once intimated to me that during hard times his wife, Mma Gaone (may her soul rest in peace) would advice him to sail on because the nation needed him most. ‘Fa go le thata bangwe ba ikatumetsa setlhare’. Your biography ‘Mr President’ would be interesting to read.  Sir Ketumile o ne a tle a nthee a re fa o ka ‘reetsa batho  o tlaa robalelwa ke ditlhokwa’ . A climb to reach the summit of a hill is never easy.

We must accept that at 51, Botswana is experiencing many challenges; cabinet ministers are dirty, corruption in many sectors of the economy is rife, crime has become sophisticated, use of drugs is the order of the day, health conditions are worsening day by day, ‘ditsenwa le tsone di a ntsifala’.

‘Mme fa re tlhwaafetse meamuso ya lefatshe leno e ka kgona go baakanya seemo’.

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