Sunday, September 20, 2020

Weathering the Storm : Trying to Heal from the 10 years of the Khama Era (Error)

In Botswana corruption has existed since the last decades, however, much has not been written about it. This has thus earned Botswana’s government a reputation for “clean” governance of public resources and is often seen as a haven of prosperity and stability in a region full of economic and political misery.

A survey on the literature of the corruption tsunami that swept across the country in the 1980s and 1990s  however, portrays an illusion in the many accolades the country has received. The presentation by one of the leading scholars of African political economy, Abdi Samatar depicting the country as having managed to elude rampant corruption was full of flaws that needs to be revisited. Samatar’s thesis is almost totally uncritical of the glaring negative features of Botswana’s corruption scandals especially those that beset the country in the 1990s at the hands of ruling BDP political elites and their close family members. (See Seleke Sunday Standard 30, 01, 2011, K Good, 1994 ).

Corruption continued to raise its ugly head even under former President Ian Khama’s regime. The explosive rate of corruption under  Ian Khama has been described by many of his critics as having elements of arrogance and one with the I don’t care attitude. The dramatic rise in corruption under Ian Khama is however, ironic since he came to power largely on anti-corruption campaign platform. His critics however, have always held a different view stating that Khama’s saw corruption only in other people’s eyes and not himself, his family members and close cronies.

The  ‘Nchindogate’ case is still fresh in our minds. In that marathon case former Minister and former Chief  Executive Officer of BEDIA at that time Rre Jacob Nkate was called as state witness. He fared badly. Nkate admittedly stated that the statement he made to DCEC on Nchindo was false. In the entire case Nkate suffered severe battering from Lot Moroka who restrained himself from branding Jacob Nkate a liar. Lot Moroka stated that Nkate’s performance in court was unfortunate and said he struggled to ‘place Nkate as an animal or a bird given his shifting evidence.’

Newspaper headlines reported that former President Ian Khama soon after ascending to the Presidency announced his 4Ds roadmap. The Ds were Discipline, Development, Dignity and Democracy and later the 5th D was announced at a BDP election victory rally at Diswinking freedom square at Old Naledi  in October 2009, where Khama show cased his hitherto unknown dancing skills with his Khama Kwasa dance moves. 

In his 10 years of Presidency Ian Khama critics have been a constant thong on him stating that he completely mis-understood the script, as he deviated from his 5Ds agenda. They state that, he was just confused and as a result resorted to populist agenda, taking cover with his village walk abouts, causing poor grannies to ululate and dance endlessly, with young kids lining up to receive some Pong pong (sweets) and also causing old men to climb trees to have a glimpse at the Philanthropist pretender. His critics have argued that his is tantamount to what is termed pornography of poverty where he would be shot donating bibles and shirts to the poor rural folks. 

 It has always been clear right from day one, that Khama was not in touch with reality. The nation was just hypnotized and duped by the fake magician. His critics have argued that in his 20 years of  political career, Khama proved to be more concerned about discipline of others than his own, even post presidency he still believes in that fallacy.

Some of his critics are even suggesting that he is an ungrateful self centred megalomaniac thriving on identity politics and tribal breast-beating. They sum it by saying that his current stunts are a clear indication that he is just in a state of panic and is doing his usual rhetoric, playing  victim. Never the one to admit  his short comings and mistakes, as to how he has been able to charm and fool many  people from outside Botswana that he is innocent remains a mystery, some of his critics have claimed. Unfortunately for him Batswana are now wiser, smart, educated and are not fooled by his hypocrisy.

With only two years after Khama has left office, the country is going through a painful healing process. It is even trying to recover financially from the alleged corrupt practices dating back to his tenure in office. To make matters worse , Botswana has now been added to a new list of countries that pose financial risks to the European Union due to anti-money laundering and terrorism financing shortfalls.

Currently there is a marathon case involving one lady code named Butterfly – Welminah Maswabi which has led to issuing of some report by Ian Khama where he called for BDP to voluntarily relinquish power and pave way for credible elections since the investigations, clearly indicate that the State is unfit to manage the affairs of the state.  However, AfriForum issued a statement dismissing the report as irrelevant. Stating that :

“If you possess the means to commission and fund an investigation of yourself by people appointed by yourself it remains just that and that only the police will have the mandate to officially investigate a crime since the report is unendorsed, unofficial and untested investigation”.

The nation is waiting with unbated breath to see justice done. As to whether the crime has been done or not only the Courts will make such as determination. In its current state, it is just speculation.

AfriForum announced that the Private Prosecution Unit, under the leadership of Adv Gerrie Nel, has brought a mandamus application against , amongst others , Ronald Lamola, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, to force the Department of Justice to take steps to facilitate Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) in the money laundering and fraud case in which business woman Bridgette Motsepe- Radebe is implicated.

For his part  President Masisi unlike former President Ian Khama has unfortunately inherited a government which is in shambles with its economy in a near state of collapse. There is also rampant systemic and institutionalized corruption and deceit. Coupled with these are the political caricatures who have now become turncoats  and  are now hellbent on spreading malice rather than being sincere,  open and honest.

We all know that politicians lie and lie a lot, until today it has reached a stage where it is often completely shameless. Lying and doing so in a wanton and blatant way is now such a part of everyday politics that is barely news worthy. However, now that their lips have been sweetened with honey, with some of them back to Parley and with the new freshmen who have finally made it to parley after numerous attempts, can now afford double breasted suits, sushi, cigars and cognac after a long dry financial spell, have resorted into being traitors, sell outs and cheap gossip mongers. They have suddenly forgotten what they used to tell the nation about Ian.

The abuse of entrusted power by politicians through rent-seeking and corruption is a threat to many modern democracies with Botswana not being an exception. Many countries,  provide seemingly endless examples of political elites diverting funds intended for basic public services such as health, schools, and roads for private gains. While the pervasive effects of corruption on economic development have been well documented, the root causes are poorly understood.

In Botswana the nation is going through a healing process and would not want to see a repeat of the Khama Era ( ERROR). The Masisi administration must therefore crack the whip and carry out serious cleaning & cleansing, weed out the dead woods and the cabal of schemers working undercover with the Khama regime.  This is the time that HE Masisi need good advice, not just his favourite people, but the best brains available, then he will listen and follow advise. One legal eagle made the same observation and called out the DPP to act as appropriate and end the case by either withdrawing the charges or expediting the prosecution of Welminah Maswabi as it has been pending for too long. Justice delayed is justice denied.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.