Saturday, December 9, 2023

What has happened to our social structures?

We must begin to ask ourselves what happened to institutions that previously dealt with matters relating to the social needs of disadvantaged Batswana?

Have these institutions failed to deliver on their mandate to the point where the Head of State must assume their roles? Or they have collapsed, or they are just being undermined by a reluctant politician who now wants to play God?

The populist stunt that is being pulled by the Head of State through donations to the needy using state resources cannot escape interrogation.

We are tempted to interrogate what motives are behind President Ian Khama’s seemingly insatiable appetite to personally donate as the Head of State while it is the business of the government he leads to create social safety nets to cater for the poor and, at the same time, creating wealth for the country.

There could be reasons that the government has come to the realization that the social grants given to the senior citizens may be a far cry from meeting their basic needs for example. If that is the case, that should get the President to spring into action together with his cabinet and find long-term solutions.

The short term solution of donating to the poor at this alarming rate coming from a Head of State can only mean existing government intervention mechanisms put in place to alleviate poverty aren’t working.

Where are we headed? Who funds this political gimmick? Yes a political gimmick since the apparatus of the State are used, showing images of the President donating to the poor week in and week out.

There is no big deal in the President occasionally donating to the disadvantaged as this is in line with one of the pillars of our Vision 2016 of being a compassionate and caring nation.

But then, again, Batswana have always donated in the past before this new administration.

It gets all the more worrying when the President knowingly or unknowingly creates a perception that he is the only person in this country who is more compassionate and caring to the poor than others. Consistently using State resources (the government media, Btv and Daily News) gives the President an unfair political advantage. Whatever kudus accrue to him personally also give him an unfair political mileage.

There is an observation doing the rounds that the Head of State is fast turning himself into the country’s number one Social Worker. Who can blame such an observation? It would appear the President wants to turn this country into a nanny state. Infringing upon the civil liberties of citizens who indulge in alcohol by hiking taxes to fund social programmes for personal gain is nothing short of political chicanery. This is exactly what this government is doing.

The BDP has to tell the nation how we reached a stage where it now seems like government has suspended its programmes and left the President to run the show alone? We must be told as the nation if the government has surrendered all its policy decisions to just one individual. 

Another school of thought could be that the President finds the policies of a party he leads have not improved the lives of Batswana hence his populist interventions.

As it is now in the public domain, his populist stunts are fast catching up with him. Even the Minister of Finance and Development Planning holds a view that some of the President’s pet projects are not sustainable.

The government is alive to the fact that a donor never gives forever. At times, donor taps run dry. There has to be a point when the recipient has to graduate from handouts. When we were rendered a middle-income economy, the donor money we received from abroad came to an end. For how long will the President continue to donate to the poor?

?But there is another great danger.

It is common knowledge that even as he is the one at the forefront of making these donations, the President is himself sourcing them from somewhere ÔÇô most of the time the business community.
As his predecessors will prove to him, private businesses never want to donate to politicians unless they get something in return.

At the first instance, such donations by businesses to the President may look innocuous, but the truth of the matter is that donating businesses have already factored their gifts into their long term strategies hoping to use them as their leverage tools should a need arise in future disputes and or negotiations with either Khama himself or his government.
So Khama beware.

Unbeknown to you, you may actually be opening yourself to all sorts of potential pitfalls that may in the end compromise your integrity and that of your government by always running after businesses asking them to make donations to you.

The President should be careful not to turn himself into Father Christmas, especially if such character has the potential to undermine his office in the long term.


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