Thursday, July 18, 2024

We should count our blessings that we still have such people like Masire and Mogae in our midst

For some time the vultures had started circling too low for the comfort of many. From the look of things it is now clear that they have landed. And it will not be long before what only a short while ago was a wholesome carcass is reduced to bare bones.

It is a chapter that has taken too long to unfold. Public disapproval of Ian Khama has been building for some time. The leader, like his BDP is now beset by what psychologists would call a siege mentality. As ever, the leader is for his part consumed by denial. He will, it looks like, still fight to the end. Early signs are that it will be a futile battle. It is a disaster waiting to happen.

Unsurprisingly not even his foremost cheerleaders seem to know how best to respond to the looming catastrophe. Instead of accepting blame, party spin doctors see an enemy under every tree. As always they want to accuse those taking a stance against them of sour grapes. This time it will not wash. The nation is riding on the coattails of goodwill from leaders who have seen and heard it all. After former president Sir Ketumile Masire took them by surprise last week, the BDP spin doctors are still reeling from shock.

They are still struggling to make sense of it all. A good number of Khama’s minnows including in cabinet have tried to dismiss Masire as a bitter old man. The fact of the matter is that they had clearly not expected such strong words from within. They have been gob-smacked. Less than a week later they find themselves having to deal with yet another calamity. Only this time it is much more portent, moir├® direct and infinitely persuasive. The immediate past President has opted to be forthright. Speaking from somewhere in East Africa, Festus Mogae has said Botswana is no longer a good example of democracy.

In his words we are a country that has not only digressed but also regressed. Mogae is wholly correct. In fact he is saying what some of us have been saying for many years now. For Mogae those still hell-bent on using Botswana as a shining example are people who are still caught up in a hangover of nostalgia. As a country we have had a glorious past, but that was then. For a continent always too hungry for a good story to tell the world, Botswana was always a picture perfect pinup boy never too far away to be picked as an example of exceptionalism. Again that was then. Mogae’s gripe is that we have in the last year or so deported over 2000 professional.

While bad enough, for many of us that is a much smaller evil compared to many other abominable things that have happened. Khama’s regime, to use Mogae’s word has taken us back a generation. And with the world fast pacing past us, it is unlikely we will ever catch up. Mogae is right to speak out. For him the pressure is much more immediate and more personal than for all of us. It is Mogae who with his eyes wide open too this nation by hand and threw it into an abyss from which we are still to emerge. If saving Botswana is for Masire a moral obligation then for Mogae it has to be an intimately personal undertaking. It was Festus Mogae who against all reason went out of his way to bring a reluctant military general and plucked him into politics.

And now look what that has put all of us into. Not only is Botswana an inward stated as inferred by Mogae. Our diplomatic isolation, if not stemmed points threatens that we are by all accounts veering into becoming a pariah state. It is not just the wanton disregard for the rule of law that is at play. Our country’s recluse into the current state is a result of a buffet of misguided policies chiefly the president’s politics of exclusion, corruption and favoritism. All our institutions of democracy that used to provide the checks and balances have on account of Khama’s intolerance literally been beaten into submission if not altogether collapsed. Even his own BDP is by and large led by a group of carefully choreographed clowns calling themselves a central committee.

He likes it that way because he is by nature averse to anything that resembles dissonance. The country’s two most senior statesmen have delivered their verdict. They have proved, if any proof was needed, that we have strayed into the wrong lanes. We are all the lucky for it. Many countries do not have such elder statesmen to count on to carry the torch and be voices of reason during turbulent times.


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