I am not a friend of the Afrikaner tribe if you know how they sorted me out and imposed apartheid baas-skap on all who were not white. I did have individual Afrikaner friends, now departed. And oh, what sweet friends they were! What I liked generally about the tribe however is their graphic and pithy language, for instance: "Ek hou van a man wat sy man kan stan." Literally translated: 'I like a man who can stand his man.' In Sesotho, another incisive language, it is rendered best by the articulate current Speaker of Parliament, Dr Margaret Nasha when she expressed her determination to face DK in the Secretary Generalship contest a few years back. Do you remember what she said? The Sesotho expression she used? Never mind.
When Afrikaners say, 'I like a man who can stand his man,' they imply that anyone who speaks his/her mind before any authority, deserves accolades. Frankness and fearlessness is the best policy whatever the repercussions might befall one who utters such blunt opinion to whomsoever. We know the BDP wields power not only to run government but power to stifle contrary opinion and ensure that anybody who transgresses the iron law of Khama's disciplinary code is in for a high jump. Besides, Khama has perks for the good guys and sanctions for the bad guys. MPs are no longer representative of the people who elected them, but servants of Khama who has authority and power to dispense goodies and sanctions to each according to his/her loyalty or disloyalty.Regardless of the MPs opinions let alone constituents' interests, MPs must toe the party-line drawn by Khama! Recent Masitara's challenge to Khama's code, was courting disaster. Clean up the system? Yes, 'clean up the system,' his exact words, not mine!
For the honourable MP to challenge the system or feign challenging the system if you like - the corrupt regime system, the autocratic President, his yes-sir Cabinet, is nothing short of guts. The man is gutsy! However I am a bit disappointed that he fears assassination. Sure, one must not dismiss threats to take out arrant loudmouths; eventualities like that come with the gutsy way of life and must be anticipated. The truth however should never be compromised nor intimidated by threats of death. In life we are in death. Humans live only once, only the cat has nine lives! More disappointment was to see Masitara do bo-tate dance, genuflect and wring his hands before Khama over his utterances. Was he reprimanded by friends, family or fans to watch his steps and apologise? In the past, on a few occasions reflective of my on-and-off political mood, I have alluded to Batswana as a docile people. But I have never implied they may be imbeciles! Only imbeciles can remain eternally docile. In the wake of systematic erosion of political freedoms and the entrenchment of a one-man rule, Batswana are gradually being weaned from lethargy and inertia. Therefore having joined the growing tide of resistance against tyranny, Masitara need not grow cold feet, a tidal wave unstoppable in its wake, is gathering momentum and will hug him tight.
On the other hand Masitara's gutsiness should be viewed in perspective. The Seventh Parliament (1994-1999) held a workshop to revisit its duties, the most important besides the legislative being oversight of the Executive.For the first time MPs zeroed-in on portfolio committees, absent in the Botswana Parliament then but common in all multi-party democratic parliaments. There is nothing like portfolio committees to make the Executive behave - departments and parasatals fall in line when the portfolio committees exist, they cannot play hide and seek with parliament and the public, in particular when the watchdog - the independent press is watching like big brother. The Executive, is obliged to implement the decisions of parliament and account to it as a matter of routine. Masitara's brazenness must be seen in that light. Now the question however is, 'Why does it appear this assertiveness of the committee is transferred to Honourable Robert Masitara's lap? Where is the committee? It reminds one of the fabled 'conference of mice,' at which a colony of mice after years of harassment by the cat eventually took a decision to 'bell' the cat, so that they could be forewarned when the predatory cat approached, but the 'conferees' were immediately confronted with the dilemma, 'Who will bell the cat?' Is it earthly possible that after unearthing the accumulated mess in the parastatal(s), the MPs like the feline conferees have developed cold feet and only Masitara has been left standing?
To me the excellent work of the committee belongs to the whole committee and to the House that created it. At best Masitara as chairperson could only be its official spokesperson and his fear of being disciplined or at worst being assassinated may be so much self-inflation! Or might it perhaps be that one of the members of the committee, speculatively a member of the BDP, singled him out as the ringleader towards the uncomplimentary findings which the committee is about to table before parliament? Be that as it may, the impression of somewhat shriveled MPs doesn't reflect well on the 10th Parliament and how it conducts its business. Batswana expect their representatives to be free men and women who go about their mandate without fear.
Meantime, curious media workers are already asking Masitara awkward questions, like what party he intends to join were he to be expelled from Domkrag? The question no longer arises. Like Honourable Pono Moatlhodi before him, Honourable Masitara has already prostrated himself before the president who is always ready to reconcile with party prodigals, the occasional party deviants who err, repent, confess their sins - venial and mortal - before his imperturbable authority. Masitara needs to keep his fingers crossed now that Moatlhodi is to be sidelined by the president's favourite, at the primaries, he might inherit the deputy speakership of the House!