The year 2009 was undoubtedly one of the most challenging in the history of this country.
It was a year that brought this country to its knees, and forced us to introspect and look at ourselves, evaluate our operations and look at ways through which we can improve on them.
It was a year when the alcoholic industry was literally brought to its knees after President Khama imposed the alcohol levy.
It was a year when we elected a new government into office to run our country for the next five years.
It was a year during which we, for the first time, questioned our president’s powers and asked if they should not be curtailed.
It was a year during which political heavyweights like Jacob Nkate lost elections, and more over it was a year when Batswana collectively looked with keen interest at the new crop of MPs elected to Parliament.
The new parliament is widely expected to be one of the most robust and progressive, reminiscent of the days of Maitshwarelo Dabutha and Paul Rantao.
It was a year when there was public outcry over extra judicial killings, a year when men like John Kalafatis and Italy Setlampoloka were apparently murdered by state security agents, sparking an unprecedented outcry that security forces have become a law unto themselves.
But, most importantly, it was a year when our President Ian Khama was democratically elected into office, bringing with him hope for Batswana, largely because of his largess, his contempt for corruption and his concern for the small man. Although we do not hold a brief for him, his level of patriotism and goodwill for the country cannot be doubted.
The fact is that in an open democratic dispensation like Botswana, a difference of opinion is a corner stone, if not an essential ingredient. While we may differ on the way that we do things, and the way that some of our leaders operate, we remain united by the fact that we are all Batswana. We all have one thing in common, an undying love for this country and unfaltering patriotism.
So, allegations that have been made by some that some people are not patriotic are unfounded and, in fact, fall short of accusing other citizens of committing treason. A difference in opinion should not be viewed as a barometer through which one’s love for one’s country is measured. We remain united in diversity and in adversity.
This country was founded on democratic principles, and has always been lauded as a shining beacon of democracy. We will never falter in our defense of this democracy. We will never stop complaining when things are not done right. It is both our democratic right and our national responsibility. We will live and die for this country, simple.
As the year comes to a close, we should all look forward to the coming year. The fact is that we all have a common goal. We all want to leave a better heritage for our children. We all want to preserve the democracy for which we have earned so much international accolades over the years.
As The Sunday Standard, we pledge our undying allegiance to this country. We reiterate once again that ours is not an objective to taint anyone or to portray anyone as bad, but just to adhere to the calling of our profession as journalists.
If we, in the course of our duties, step on anyone’s toes, we will apologize unreservedly. But we will not be intimidated into pandering to anyone’s whims. Our allegiance is not to any individual but to Botswana and Batswana.
Running a newspaper in a country that is obviously bent on sabotaging media freedom is not easy. That is why we plead with our leaders to revise the imposing media act that they are trying to institute, whose objective is obviously to sabotage the operations of the private media.
As journalists, we are also human. We work on deadlines, and are obviously prone to mistakes. The fact that we work on deadlines, and that we are in the public eyes, makes our mistakes even more glaring. But we will be the first to apologize if we make mistakes. Ours is just a nation building exercise, obviously not through parroting what our leaders want to hear, but through informing, educating and entertaining the nation.
It is on the above stated that this paper wishes everyone a merry Christmas and prosperous new year. We caution our country men to always be wary of the dangers of HIV-Aids. Let us stop promiscuity. The belief that, as Batswana, our culture allows us to have multiple sexual partners will only work to reverse the gains that we have made as a nation.
Our over indulgence in alcohol will only destroy us. Batswana just do not drink responsibly. Let us change our mindset. We should avoid the debt trap. We should respect our leaders.
We should revive our culture. We should work hard to diversify our economy, because over dependence in diamond industry will, as already proved, not cushion us against the global economic recession. We should rally behind our leadership and support their economic empowerment initiatives.
The new year should bring with it a different Botswana. A nation that prides itself in being industrious. A nation that is united in the belief that we can only go forward. The problems that we had in this past year should not deter us, they should rather fuel us to go forward and correct our wrongs. After all we are Batswana. With over 42 years of unparalleled democracy. With an undying love for our country and our president. With a belief that we will always persevere.
Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Enjoy, don’t indulge.