Our leaders have passionately deployed the state propaganda machinery to nefariously peddle the myth that Botswana is fully independent, and its citizens have equally benefited from self-rule. Usually, the ruling apparatus strategically uses independence celebrations to legitimise the hegemonic influence of our exploitative oligarchy, the progenitors of democracy for the few!
Despite the omni-directional applause heaped on us for our political and economic successes, we no longer measure up to this profound praise for we’re now contented, complacent, passive and unproductive. Our structuralised institutional numbness prevents us from winning repeatedly. We’re unconsciously stagnant and are unable to perform according to our potential.
It’s perfectly legitimate to proudly celebrate our achievements.
But the atrocious socio-economic inequalities afflicting the masses have disastrously foiled Vision 2016 aspirations. We’ve failed to learn good lessons from other nations, especially the Asian Tigers. So we’re still using obsolete paradigms that engendered the very problems we’re unable to eliminate today. Instead of creating a national sense of unifying purpose and urgency, and radically surpassing our previous performance records, we’ve prodigally squandered our plenteous opportunities and remained trapped in self-incapacitating political platforms. Despite our mammoth potential for effectiveness and greatness, the ruling party and the fledgling opposition lack creative imagination and transformative energy to catapult us to phenomenal progress. The overriding explanation for this persistent political mediocrity is that soon after independence, we didn’t invest sufficient resources to produce high impact leadership and strive to achieve institutional renaissance. Our substandard leadership remained intellectually dependent on foreign technical experts.
When the experts left, our fledgling organisations started exhibiting evidence of the “succession Deprivation Syndrome” which, sadly we’re still perpetuating.
Even now, our timid and submissive leaders still behave sycophantically, and aren’t required to engage in critical and divergent thinking. In 1993, the BNPC was set up, as the entire workforce couldn’t leverage the country’s potential into prodigious achievements. But 13 years later, our productivity credentials are despairingly abysmal, and we’re not attractive to foreign investors.
At 40 years, Botswana is still not a fully independent and effective society. We’re still hugely dependent on other countries for economic survival, even for the things we should be doing for ourselves. The poor haven’t yet experienced the economic boom we’re being over-praised for. They’re dependent on measly food handouts that irresponsible leaders scandalously issue as bait for votes.
Due to lack of strategic thinking, the political and bureaucratic elite has failed to translate political independence into economic transformation. Hence, a leadership that was expected to implement a vigorous program of technological and economic modernisation has disrespectfully crushed the poor’s legitimate optimism for a better life. Because of lack of creative leadership, this deplorable situation has the potential to persist indefinitely.
Political independence alone is not enough.
As long as our economy is disproportionately under foreign control, we can’t achieve global influence. We won’t successfully carve out our destiny. The frustrating lack of economic independence is expressed in the BDP’s shameful acceptance of financial aid from the Chinese, De Beers and other robber capitalist institutions. Naively accepting financial enticements tragically exposes Botswana to manipulation and abuse by international capital. For instance, our politicians’ criminal collusion with imperial interests effectively inhibits them from protecting the workers’ rights.
Evidently, if we delay in abolishing our self-disparaging economic dependency, Botswana and its leaders would be clandestinely bought off by foreign conmen, who may eventually abrogate our democratic principles.
Admittedly, Botswana is politically stable and has used mineral-based wealth to create basic infrastructure for facilitating development. But owing to premature institutional decay, lack of authentic and accountable leadership and inappropriate framework in which development has been carried out in the past 40 years, the processes and products of development haven’t empowered multitudes of ordinary Batswana. Hence, conscience-smitten leaders are incessantly lamenting our lacklustre citizen empowerment initiatives.
Ill-fatedly, our growing institutional paralysis means their belated remonstrations can’t be smoothly translated into desirable improvements.
At 40 years, we have failed to produce people of high quality.
Our not sure-footed, self-serving leaders and their people are working at cross-purposes. We lack solid national consciousness to commit ourselves to each other and alter the direction of the country. There’s no passion to make Vision 2016 and productivity improvement programs work even at the highest level in the state bureaucracy. The absence of a critical mass of giants and champions, and robust institutional arrangements that can earn Botswana a quantum leap, is a very serious indictment necessitating heavy weight responses from the national leadership.
Unless the emerging leadership, under the auspices of vice president Ian Khama, ambitiously engage in extraordinary performance improvement, Botswana may abysmally fail to cope with the daunting processes of economic, political, social, cultural, religious and technological globalisation.
Our gross indulgence in stupefying self-praise should not cause us to lose sight of other egregious limitations, like our lack of self-respect, mutual respect, and irresponsible behaviour.
Knowing pretty well that a functional family system is an indispensable foundation of a healthy society, we’ve negligently failed to keep families intact.
Our leaders and the youth are helpless victims of an identity crisis that fuels social-moral corruption.
Since we’re betwixt and between, we can’t listen to each other and fix our moral degeneracy. Deepening social challenges, like violence against women and children, ritual murders, road accidents, murder-suicides, sycophancy, war of attrition in political parties, work organisations and NGOs, prodigal conspicuous consumption, and the “Pull each other” mentality, are all nauseating signs of a lack of authentic independence and absence of responsible leadership.
Dishearteningly, after 40 years, some important personalities aren’t fluent in Setswana language and culture; the ruling BDP, opposition parties, civil society organisation and the labour movement can’t leverage and empower our democracy; the BDP refuses to respect some governance structures like the Ombudsman. Our effete parliament is not fully independent to compel the executive to be accountable to the nation; The ruling elite dominate and hobble the media, and use it for personal and political aggrandisement; despite our desperate efforts to woo foreign capital, foreign direct investment is discouragingly meagre; if people don’t brilliantly perform their roles, no meaningful consequences are meted out against them; and despite the massive investment in education, many educated Batswana are disgustingly disillusioned and have disgustingly betrayed the country.
Our achievements are not at par with the huge potential we have been bounteously endowed with. We should urgently reorganise our leadership and commit ourselves to a profound process of self-reinvention in tandem with Vision 2016. For this to materialise, we should all appreciate that “trying is lying; to do is to be true”.