Saturday, May 28, 2022

The president should not ignore opportunities to govern honestly

It’s so hard as to be impossible to understand much less believe the rationale behind an urgent motion brought before parliament by the Secretary General of the ruling party to amend the Constitution and add four more constituencies to parliament.

That motion, presented as a cost saving measure has even been more sullied by a further barrage of disingenuous justifications by the Head of State.

Instead of providing concrete detail why his government found it fit to depart so substantially from established rules, the president blew hot and cold in his intervention in parliament.

The rational provided by President Mokgweetsi Masisi has fallen too far short of expectations.

In fact others will deem it all laughable.

First things first. There is a time-honoured process to get to where the motion by Mpho Balopi wants to take the country – which is increase the number of constituencies.

The gold standard of that process is through a national population increase.

The population figures are so determined by the Census.

At the moment a National Population Census is ongoing.

The Balopi motion is effectively preempting the outcome of that population census.

Further down, if things were done according to the book, the process would include a Delimitation Commission which as we speak has not even been appointed.

Further to buttress how the whole motion is a real farce, the president has appointed a Commission of Enquiry to ask the public on what they think needs to happen the Constitution.

That process is still ongoing.

For politics to be effective, the public needs to have some level of trust in politicians.

Trust in government is necessary for government policies to have any meaning in the lives of ordinary people.

At the moment there is credibility crisis in our politics.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi is clearly struggling to retain public trust.

He knows, and it shows.

But the bigger struggle for him is to shed his past and earn a new image when it comes to truth telling.

The president has a tainted reputation.

He has on several times been found to be not entirely even much less upfront in his dealing with the public.

And as he so well knows, he is not among the nation’s most trusted politicians – and there are not many trustworthy politicians.

That is why a groundswell of the public believe the president has some involvement in the use of pseudonyms attacking some public figures.

In a true democracy these kind of suspicions against the president would not arise.

Ordinarily, Balopi’s motion would by and of itself be innocuous were it not of the fact that the motion effectively puts the horse before the cart. Worse it is being argued on an emergency basis, another instrument of frequent abuse by this government.

The argument by Balopi was itself not convincing.

Even less convincing was his justification why it had to be brought on urgency certificate.

The fact that the president waded into the argument in parliament tainted Balopi’s already sullied debate, first because the president was bringing with him into it a baggage.

Public distrust against the president personally – and also against his government continue to mount.

This is unfortunate.

The public needs a president who they can take at his word.

Clearly the president has instructed Balopi to come up with the motion.

There is nothing wrong with that.

The problem is both of them are using false reasons to motivate the motion.

Clearly the president has his own people he wants to benefit from this increase in constituencies.

Again there is nothing wrong with that.

These could be people the president just likes, it could be people he has plans with regards to his succession in the future or it could be his friends or simply people he wants in his cabinet. Still there is nothing wrong with any of that.

But for him to adduce dishonest reasons soils public life.

It makes him look like he thinks Batswana are stupid, in which case there would be something fundamentally wrong with him.

The president should more personally lead the race to raise the threshold on truth telling especially in public life. If not for anything because this is good for him personally but also for his politics.

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