Sunday, April 21, 2024

WILL BOTSWANA SURVIVE THE PRESIDENCY OF SERETSE KHAMA IAN KHAMA?

As a nation we have to accept that we now have a new politics ÔÇô a politics where Botswana is synonymous with President Khama. This means that our future is reliant on President Khama’s wishes.

It is an obvious fact that President Khama has become the leading political personality in Botswana’s politics. For many people, President Khama is the patron saint of our republic. Yet, Botswana is on the brink of disintegration. President Khama may have ascended to the presidency on the back of unprecedented public goodwill preaching a sweetened roadmap of 4Ds ÔÇô democracy, dignity, discipline and delivery. In spite of the unparalleled endorsement by a majority, the Khama revolution has birthed every evil that was once considered core features of rogue states.

Thus, the Khama presidency has moved Botswana away from the values of her founders ÔÇô values of moral progress, individual and collective responsibility, political tolerance and traditional tswana values of freedom. While we can rightfully quarrel about our stagnant economy, the erosion of the democratic values particularly civil liberties has become the centre stage of a framework that is falling apart.

As many nations seek to consolidate their democracies, Botswana is concertedly defiling hers and this has multiplier effects as it metamorphose into political instability and general insecurity of life and property, resulting in the beginning of the end of the African miracle; a beacon of democracy and prosperity in a rather hopeless continent. Our failure to consolidate our democracy means that Botswana is regressing and is becoming a key member of the Africa that symbolizes doom and hopelessness – what is known as ‘Afro-pessimism’. Today there is fear everywhere not of petty criminals but of state security agents who fear each other as well, leading to a virtual stand-off. Citizens are terrified into a virtual stupor and pander to an increasingly arrogant and diabolic leadership that has no respect for human life.

However, recent trends have raised this fear to a point where citizens fear state security agents more than they fear ruthless international terrorists. This effectively makes the cowardly population to readily embrace a dictatorship that even rival Uganda under Idi Amin (for the sake of their lives). While there are chances that this heartlessness and brutality of state security agents could radicalize an otherwise tame society, the bigger possibility is that many pretenders could opt for a life of shameful imprisonment of one’s conscience. This fear that is everywhere is not imagined nor made up but is real and pervasive. To a larger extent, it represents the rise and rise of the strongman whose popularity rests on the filthy business of exploiting the poverty and greed of our people. It, in no small measure, represents the abandonment of the rule of law and the decline of civilization; the degeneration of the state and ultimately the formalization of tyranny which turns the rest of the population into drones that surprisingly take an active part in their own humiliation. At one end, the economy has remained stagnant since 2008 and has no feasible hope for recovery hence we have beggars with hard-earned academic degrees whose only choice out of starvation would be to register for food hampers and join the ruling party’s national choir and become celebrated entertainers who specializes in waxing lyrical about the BDP’s proficiency. At the other end of the spectrum, the country has lost its comparative advantage and sparkle in continental politics. Everything that used to be right has gone wrong.

In large measure, Khama’s presidency is threatening our very existence and is leading us into a future in which all of us will rue the day we were born. Botswana stands at a crossroads, a dead end to be precise. The future has never been this bleak. In the light of this clear danger, all responsible citizens have a duty to transform and reconstruct Botswana into a more open democracy that nourishes political tolerance and this is consistent with our founding principles. Our collective vision has to do with building a Botswana where freedom, opportunity and prosperity flourish and where security of life is guaranteed. We must dedicate ourselves to putting our country firmly on track. We have a government intent on intruding into every aspect of our lives, threatening our freedoms, our hard-earned economic and political prosperity including the future of generations to come. Never in the history of Botswana has any president so zealously resolved to move this far and so fast to radically change our country and turn it into a chamber of misery and hopelessness. In the last few years we have had to face an administration intent on imposing countless punitive directories against our collective will.

This systematic attack on our country’s founding values leaves all responsible patriots with no option but to wake up from the deep slumber. The choice has never been so stark and clear. We have to choose between the one pathway that leads to heaven and the other leading to hell. The choice is ours and we are to make it of our own free will. In his ‘Black Skin, White Masks’, Frantz Fanon says that freedom resides in the capacity to choose and act. Our greatest mistake in Botswana is to assume that political leaders will in the most make decisions that sought to fulfil our collective will. This assumption has caused us to slack up like a drunk dude who cannot not dress up after a two-some adult game. We have been too trusting, sheepish and incorrigibly timid and allowed the political leaders to get away with murder so much that the few who demand answers and make critical commentaries about these dishonourable leaders are singled out for marginalization or elimination. We need a reorientation in order to appreciate that many of our leaders do not assume power in order to serve but rather they are greedy people who have come to eat. Botswana’s political environment has drastically changed and no longer needs people to wait for the next round of general election to express their disgust.

In a political atmosphere characterized by severe corruption, anarchy and ‘legitimate’ fraud as when the state president uses constitutional powers and privileges to humiliate Parliament and ground its operations, citizens must rise to the occasion and demand that His Excellency steps down for the sake of Botswana because he has failed to do anything right. It is absurd and simplistic for us to call the Attorney General to quit when we all know that she is just a tiny pawn, a proxy in the scheme of things.

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