Although we speak every day, utter words and statements as we think they should be, it is not all the time that what we say goes away. There are occasions when some words will transpire as unpleasant, get us into trouble, staying in some people’s minds for a reasonable time if not forever. It is even worse when one is a leader.
We have seen leaders landing in hot soup for what they said in public forums; accused of not being exemplary to the people they lead. Some words being regarded as sensitive possibly lead to chaos. It is even fascinating when it comes to politics as opponents will try hard to use what another politician has said to lure people on their sides, while quoting and denouncing the originator of the words.
The Botswana National Front (BNF) president, Duma Boko, has recently been in trouble after revealing that he has never voted in his life. It became the talk in political circles.
As one of their campaign tactics, Boko has since been displayed by his opponents, including those in the Botswana Democratic Party, as an irresponsible leader who wants to be voted for while he has never voted in his life. Even the damage control effort by Boko to explain that he did not vote because he was studying oversees did not help as his opponents still use the statements against him.
The Botswana Football Association never falls too far behind when it comes to controversy. There was a stir between the football national team players and the president of the association, David Fani, who had been alleged to have uttered some words that portray him as a leader who does not care about the welfare of the players.
Even the public was not amused by the words Fani was said to have said. This was at a tumultuous time when the players wanted to be paid their appearance fees before they could take part in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Fani is said to have told the players that they either take what had been offered by the BFA or opt out of the national team so that new players could be called.
Most people, especially the senior national team players, regarded the statements as unfair as they had offered their services to the national team for a long time without proper pay and were amazed when they were told “to take it or leave it”.
Zebras’ fans and the public accused the BFA of arrogance and ignorance, saying the BFA was not concerned with the players’ welfare.
President Ian Khama found himself in a similar situation when he told Ipelegeng workers in one of his fashionable Kgotla meetings that the workers had to take what is paid to them or opt out as they are many people who are unemployed and willing to take the job. This came after one of the workers complained that their pay is far below average.
His partner in crime, Vice president Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe, has also found his tongue getting him into trouble. It was at the height of extra judiciary killings when the John Kalafatis murder almost destroyed the peace in the country.
Gen Merafhe said in a press conference that one or two killings cannot tarnish Botswana’s name in the international community. This was after Botswana received The Best African Country of the Year award-2009 from the United States of America.
Merafhe was responding to a question of whether he does not see the killings impacting on Botswana as a country that respects human rights and the rule of law. The award was said to be given to a country that is democratic and has good governance, among other things. Soon his political opponents were on him and his party, accusing the leadership of the country of practising the opposite of what they preached when it comes to freedom and respect for human rights.
Thabo Mbeki also found himself excusing himself from the mediation in Zimbabwe crises a few years ago after saying “there is no crisis in Zimbabwe” at a time when people where being abused and others killed. Mbeki was seen as treating Zimbabwe President Mugabe with kid gloves and unfit to mediate in the Zimbabwe political crisis. Some people argued that Mbeki should ask himself why he was mediating in Zimbabwe if at all there was no crisis.
Once said, words cannot be taken back so it is wise to think very carefully before uttering any words because words have a tendency of staying in people’s minds even to the end of time.