Tuesday, May 21, 2024

President Khama must restore public confidence in government

An assessment of President Khama’s administration in 2012 drew mixed conclusions with many of his Cabinet ministers taking the flunk for sub-standard performance, naked dishonesty and outright deceit.

The New Year offers us an opportunity to look back, learn from our missteps, pick ourselves up to start afresh, set goals and fight our way back hoping and believing all the way that for us the best is yet to come even from some amongst us who cannot make any significant mark even if given three lifetimes.

Forget about the recession syndrome. Botswana’s poor performance is not just about the global economic downturn. While the recession cannot be discounted, Botswana’s poor performance is largely about what Khama and his ineffectual flock of lieutenants are failing to do. The recession is a big challenge that demands new creative thinking and a new sense of responsibility so deficient in Khama’s government.

I am reminded of the revelation that has been repeated countless times that President Khama was actually catapulted into the leadership of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and, by extension of the republic, to root out factions that were devouring at the party.

What this partly means is that the BDP was too keen to use the Khama image and name, particularly of Sir Seretse Khama, to reinvent a solid BDP, hence they opted for a ‘name’ rather than an intelligent and decisive leader with immense leadership qualities.

To be blunt, President Khama was roped in as a solution to the BDP factional wars hence he has no relevance beyond that point. Thus, upon assuming the reigns both as party and state President, Khama consciously constituted a government made up of political brats and deranged lunatics who are nevertheless intellectually inept.

As a result, President Khama’s administration has been built to deal with a narrow BDP agenda, hence Botswana is failing fast and everywhere. This explains why Botswana is experiencing unprecedented leadership deficiency in all fronts and is in complete political and economic disarray. The country has no comprehensive plan for survival.

It is time to fundamentally change the way our government is constructed and by extension, change the way we do business.

It still amazes me how a state president riding on a wave of unprecedented public good will would become such a celebrated failure and hate figure. Perhaps this is a pointer that he has his priorities wrong. His vengeance mentality and a burning desire to humiliate political opponents and critics distract him from doing what needed to be done for Botswana.

As a result, citizens have doubt about government’s ability to effectively address present challenges, particularly in respect of growing the economy. This presents itself as an extra-ordinary challenge hence the need to restore public confidence in the administration’s ability to deliver.

This requires that we reform our government so that it works better; so that it is more efficient and transparent and that it is accountable and responsive to the needs of citizens. A transparent and accountable government would allow citizens to track progress and play a pivotal role in ensuring improved performance and timely delivery of services. Over the years, citizens have complained about insensitive, rude and foul-mouthed Cabinet Ministers yet President Khama appears uninterested in ways that suggest that he approves of indiscipline and the moral filth so much apparent in his administration.

We need to remind President Khama that a fish rots from the head first. Any administration that boasts of indiscipline cannot pass as a serious government and will hardly enjoy the support of its citizens.

Frankly, President Khama cannot be proud of many of his Cabinet Ministers who come across as seasoned hooligans with a reputation for deliberately misleading the public. It is shameful that President Khama has to devote considerable time to defend his ministers, instead of focusing on the tackling challenges that confront our republic.
It makes me wonder just why President Khama finds it difficult to rid his administration of some of these scandal wracked delinquents who are in truth excess baggage.

To serve one’s country is a great honour and requires man and women of substance. This is one fatal mistake that Khama will live to regret. Failure to root out greed and corruption means that Khama’s administration will never have people of value but rather a band of shameless mercenaries-cum-politicians who are happy to grow their bank accounts at the expense of the voters.

We demand a wholesale cabinet overhaul [not the customary mere rotation of dead bodies] to remove excess baggage and ensure a change of priorities and develop relevant policies to drive Botswana’s economy to greater heights. We cannot expect our institutions to function efficiently while they are managed by the walking dead.

Government has designed programs intended to achieve certain outcomes. Some of these programs have made a difference in people’s lives whereas others have dismally failed.

We need to establish a culture where government programs are continuously evaluated to determine their worth. This will help the government to cut waste and increase efficiency by eliminating those programs that are not working as expected.

We must recognize that we cannot deal with contemporary challenges that are essentially complex with stale thinking. We need new creative thinking to pioneer new ideas. This requires President Khama’s administration to reach out for ideas from outside of his tired inner circle who are tied to the old habit of inventing inept short-term relief programs that are on the whole wasteful.

To change the way government works, President Khama must make hard choices, including ditching some of his closest allies if that is what is needed to look for creative ideas from other experts.

In essence, government must, as a matter of urgency, convene a national forum (pitso) on reforming government to allow experts from different fields to guide us through and we will have to petition them to convene the forum if they decide to play dead and ignore our sincere pleas. We need to literally wake up and be resolute and demand what we want for our country even when such demands offend the powers that be.

For Botswana to prosper, we need to restore the norms and values of professionalism and hard work and to do so, government in particular needs to create monetary incentives for civil servants to excel. Botswana will never prosper if we do not attract and motivate top talent. Creative ideas and higher levels of productivity are the foundations upon which positive results could be pursued.

I am still to know of a nation that prospered through a ‘miss and run’ approach or that prospered on account of clumsy ideas proffered by pigheaded machos who go around showing off their ill-gotten riches.

Talented workers are key to performance improvement and long term prosperity, yet many of our human resources systems are outdated and unbelievably unfriendly to high performers and intelligent minds.

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