Monday, June 1, 2020

We need to reset our key national values

If there is any big problem that this country has to deal with, it has to be corruption. As a country it seems like we have given up on the opportunities and possibilities have traditionally been given to all of us by hard work.

Instead we have opted to replace hard work, honesty and decency with sleaze, corruption and trickery. We are doing everything to make corruption look descent and acceptable. In that regard we see a whole industrial complex being set to clothe corruption with acceptability. People who not so long ago were regarded highly by society are openly siding with corruption. For them, defending and rebranding corruption is becoming a livelihood industry. This is appallingly demeaning just as it is dishonest. It is one thing to defend the rights of a corruption accused and quite another to participate in that corruption including by trying to conceal it.

Batswana cannot accept such deception as a substitute for the truth. Batswana today are much more discerning than that. Our national institutions are plagued by what the Americans call credibility crisis. And have been for quite a while. But there are new developments. Increasingly there is evidence that owing to low levels of accountability, public money is being used by some officials to buy themselves protection including from some elements in the media and lately the use of sophisticated image making consultancies backed by high end legal antics.

Alarming levels of corruption, now reaching unprecedented heights will if unchecked ultimately sink this country. But worse than this corruption is the latter day image making industry that seeks to misinform, disinform, cover-up and divert public attention using well known tactics that have in the past been used elsewhere. The strategy, it is clear is to use state money to conceal and perpetuate impunity by buying insurance guarantee schemes whose modus operandi is explicitly to deceive the public.

That strategy involves stage managing what information can go to the public and also coordinating what media houses can be invited and which ones to leave out in these stage-managed charades. If any media houses are found not to tow the line, they are discredited as anti-so and so or being spiteful because they happen not to be in the list of the loved media houses. Batswana cannot be that silly as to accept semantic gymnastics whose underlying goal is to sugarcoat the evil acts of corruption by those in power.

The Government cannot forever trash the established norms and allow some of its operatives to commit corruption with impunity ÔÇô however powerful the operatives, however deep the pockets of the organizations they lead or however sophisticated the mercenary-like image makers who milk these institutions as a way of ensuring that the corrupt leaders appear to the public as unblemished saints. We call on Batswana to be awake and to insist on accountability. The public should insist on resetting its values. Corruption has eroded our national values. To regain those values we need to fight corruption in all its facets. We also call on the opposition parties and indeed to the media to be vigilant of infiltration.

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Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of May 24 - 30, 2020.