Monday, September 28, 2020

We should avoid creating celebrity politicians

The recent two-step-dance performances by political leaders who defect between and across political parties cannot be treated as a peripheral issue. It goes to the core of our existence as a democracy.

Our politicians behave in a way that reinforces popular public opinion that many of them are in it for themselves, that they would with a drop of a penny more than prepared to literally mortgage the entire country – for a fee of course.

Increasingly ordinary people believe that many of our politicians are venal, and that their souls are up for sale, naturally to the highest bidder.

That cannot be right for a country still struggling to find a right mix to solve so many problems. At the heart of it all is whether we have as a country over the years produced credible leaders who we can trust, political leaders on whom we have so much faith that whatever they do is for the greater good such that we can take their word for it.

As a country we have utterly failed to come up with a clear code on who can become a political leader. We have been too gullible and we are paying a heavy price for it.

The recent behavior of some of our most celebrated politicians goes to show that we have been sold a toy phone.

After what happened it should be a source of collective shame to all of us that we still look up for leadership to people who have changed political party membership no less than three times, sometimes more and on all occasions on account that such individuals felt the next party offered more career prospects than the other. It does not happen anywhere else outside Botswana.

Is it right to have political leaders who have expectations that their office should make them rich?
More to the point, money, wealth and access to power are just about all there is to the key attractions among our politicians; while it cuts across the divide recent defections to the BDP are a case in point.

Many of our politicians are in politics for all the wrong reasons; greed, avarice, self-centeredness and fakery. If you want to become rich you go into business, not politics. That is what happens in all self-respecting countries. The only places where people hoping to become rich join politics are in failed states. By and large such countries are in Asia, South America and of course, Africa. Botswana, we now learn is fast earning itself a place as one of those. For many of our so called political leaders (and this applies to opposition as well) the ultimate dream is a photo opportunity with President Ian Khama. They have set the bars of success too low. These are the people who are not politicians in the traditional meaning of the word. Rather they are what in the west would be referred to as celebrity politicians.

They are smugs who enjoy the vast amount of time that our easy to deceive media spends chasing them.
They worship the celebrity culture that they have so much become a part of, thanks in no small measure to our media that steadfastly refuses to ask difficult questions.

I have lost count of our senior political figures who speak excitedly about a meeting they had with the president.

To them what was discussed at that meeting is not important. It is the meeting that is the end in itself.

Because their ambitions are so callously limited they cannot for a second imagine themselves occupying the same seat of power that Khama has beneath himself.

We have to distinguish between people who defect because they are persecuted or expelled from those who do so because they are looking at material rewards for themselves.

As a nation we are so deep in political dishonour that it is difficult to see how we can continue to look up to politicians for any much longer.

It would be irresponsible of us as a people to continue to look to politicians ÔÇô least of all the incumbent crop to deliver us from the many intricate problems our nation is grappling with. If we want to move forward we should look elsewhere outside politics for people who can determine our public discourse and take the country a step further.

We have seen celebrity politicians, and they are not a mark for the future!

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.