Saturday, April 4, 2020

Peepa should not behave like malingering hounds.

Ever since the government of Botswana took a highly commendable decision last week to abandon the sale of Air Botswana to SA Airlink, the privatisation agency (Peepa) has been frantically running amok trying to absolve themselves from the untidy mess that had become the aborted transaction.

As was to be expected when giving out information on the stillborn deal (through a select platform of their favoured media friends), Peepa sticks to a clearly rehearsed strategy of only selectively giving out only that information that favours their designs.
It is also reprehensible how some media houses have allowed themselves to be used; from day one becoming gullible purveyors of the Peepa story – buying it line, hook and sinker without inklings of cynicism expected of watchdog players they claim to be.

While we find that bad enough, what is even more appalling is the blame shifting strategy the Peepa executives seem to have lately perfected.

We want to advise Peepa that instead of blaming everyone for their shortcomings and clutching at straws, they should get their house in order first.
The truth never to be forgotten is that Peepa remains a government company wholly financed from public money.

We have in the past supported calls on government to enact a privatisation law.
We still do.

We have also in the past gone at length to point out that, under the prevailing circumstances, it was inevitable that Peepa would encounter problems as a result of resistance and ill will from some empire builders in government.

Naturally, such people would feel that Peepa was encroaching if not attempting to dismantle their empires and turfs thereby bringing about an inevitable clash of interests.

In our more than a dozen articles and editorials, we said the absence of a parliament sanctified law caused not only uncertainty but also gave too much room to footloose wealth mongers who wanted to use the privatisation transactions for personal gain at the exclusion of the nation at large.

In fact, at the height of tensions surrounding Peepa, we went as far as to take sides with the government, precisely Vice President Ian Khama, when some Peepa board members wanted to overrule cabinet’s re-appointment of Joshua Galeforolwe as Chief Executive.

It would, therefore, be insincere and disingenuous for anyone, least of all Peepa executives, to read any ulterior motives in our disposition to them as an organization.

That said we want to point out that having sided with Peepa executives in the past did not in anyway mean we were indebted or beholden to them.
It was just that, at the time, we happened to be on the same wavelength in as far as we interpreted the unfolding events was concerned.

Having sided with them in the past was in no way a guarantee that we would turn a blind eye to their excesses and unsavory designs that included sinister attempts to use spin to dig themselves out of a litany of self inflicted problems; problems that worsened following a well debated parliamentary motion to call off the privatization of Air Botswana.
Although we sided with Peepa in the past, we have always taken it as our bounden duty to part ways with Peepa executives when we felt they were no longer serving national interests.

We sided with Peepa not out of any eagerness to gain the organisation’s approval as seems to be happening with some media houses but because we felt at the time that Peepa was being unfairly accused of wrongdoing.

The tables have changed and we think it is Peepa that is underperforming.

Early in the year, Peepa promised not only to privatize GEMVAS (the government car and housing scheme) they said they would also transfer a stake of BTC to private hands.

That sadly has not happened.
All we did and continue to do is to spell those shortcomings.

If, by so doing, we are guilty of any offence then we plead guilty as charged, gladly sign up the confession and cheerfully admit to being an enemy of Peepa.

We want to underscore the fact that we abhor the strategy by Peepa executives to try to blame everyone else but themselves.
That to us amounts to nothing more than clutching at the straws.

Peepa would do themselves a favour by internalising the age old adage that “when inside a hole stop digging.”

It’s surprising that though they are themselves masters of the art of criticising other people, Peepa executives would themselves not abide any form of criticisms from any quarters.

It is difficult to see how, against all evidence, Peepa executives want the nation to believe them and take them seriously when they say that all their shortcomings are an exclusive result of political sabotage by politicians who do not want to buy into the privatization process.

If Peepa executives are in touch with the public mood they would have long read what has been a groundswell of disillusionment against them and their organization which has now turned into resentment; a result of too much talk and no delivery.

Criticising everybody else while not doing their part as Peepa is wont to doing is a strategy of malingering hounds.

We expect more and better from an organization tasked with an infinitely important job of public sector reform.