President Ian Khama was jeered at while delivering his State of the Nation Address (SoNA) on Monday, November 6, 2012. He was jeered when he denounced the private media for its negative reporting while he applauded the State media for positive reporting.
I was not in parliament but listened to the speech on the radio alone and found myself chiding the jeering audience impulsively and loudly: "Stop jeering the president....!" Not that I agree with the president's viewpoint that the private media is negative and the state media positive. No!
My point is that Khama is famous for his anti-private media stance, his obsession against press freedom is legendary. Before he joined active politics, he haughtily declared himself an opponent of the private media who never read newspapers except the Daily News, in an interview at the military barracks.
Since joining politics he has not changed one iota, instead he decreed a law to strangle the private media - the Media Practitioners Act; his Cabinet Ministers led by his alter ego in his Office, and the BDP caucus-controlled backbenchers came with assorted and besotted arguments to kill the popular Freedom of Information Bill tabled by MP for Gaborone Central, Honourable Dumelang Saleshando, BCP president.
The point Khama was making, defiantly repeated In his SoNA, about his abiding faith in the State media and abhorrence of private media was no departure from his attitude towards press freedom generally, but a reaffirmation of his old self, a ruler hostile to converse opinion, an opinionated man who in spite of his limited political wisdom and skewed politics believes he is a star politician, though he is essentially someone who should have started and ended his political career in the BDF camp, where he enjoyed the latitude to give orders answered in monotonous, 'Yes, Sir!' and was saluted on sight.
At his inaugural address on that April Fool's day in 2008 when he said he had joined the army to defend democracy he didn't know what he was talking about. He didn't appreciate that democracy was a process of permanent political discourse where people agreed to disagree, and defence of democracy properly interpreted meant defending others to express contrary opinion without fear or favour. Four years into the presidency he does not yet fathom Democracy which he designated as primus inter pares among the road signs that constitute his roadmap: Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery.
We mustn't jeer at Khama for reminding us most sincerely and eloquently who he is and what he is up to - a military man. An avid dictator! Dictatorship is the ideology of the CORRUPT! Instead of jeering, Batswana should tell him without equivocation that he is a Corrupt president hell-bent to corrupt our society by throwing small crumbs of cheap blankets, donated houses, and P400 notes intermittently at them to inculcate the dependency syndrome and ironically to contradict the Ipelegeng concept found in the magwinya programme, he seeks to impress Batswana as a Messiah come to redeem them albeit a man refusing to empower the same masses politically and economically by insisting they only read The Daily News, watch only Btv and listen only to RB1, and to scorn permanent employment opportunities but opt for Ipelegeng stop-gap 'piece-jobs' and reliance on handouts donated by his business cronies.
Everyday he appoints more and more of his kinsmen, friends and praise-singers to run his administration the way he wants it to be run. We must stop jeering but protest loud and clear! Why do I say Khama is corrupt? The question, is best answered with another question: Why does he oppose the anti-corruption legislation, The Declaration of Assets, Income and Liabilities law whose tabling was first blocked by him in 1998 when he replaced PH Kedikilwe as Minister of Presidential Affairs? Check the facts.
PHK had made a solemn promise that Honourable Phumapi's Assets motion unanimously adopted by Parliament would be tabled for immediate debate; it was shelved permanently on the advent of the new incumbent, Vice President Khama. Why? Another question: Why has cabinet persistently refused this piece of legislation to be re-tabled? Two years back Honourable Dumelang Saleshando tried to retable the bill, but was denied the privilege with the lousy argument that it would give him the 'limelight;' instead it was to be tabled by the BDP. The public waits patiently. No such bill is in the horizon!
At the Global Coalition for Africa in Washington DC on February 23, 1999 with Botswana represented by the late L. Maine (Ombudsman) and T. Katlholo, then Director of the DCEC, among resolutions adopted were: 1..... governments demonstrate leadership and political will to combat and eradicate corruption ... by striving to create a climate that promotes transparency, accountability and integrity by restoring popular confidence in government.
(Does Khama concur?) 5. Eliminate conflicts of interest ....by regular disclosure of financial interests, assets, liabilities, gifts and other transactions...(see above) 18. Guarantee the public's right to information .. ......through protection of the freedom of the press... parliamentary oversight and scrutiny. ( Is Khama's administration listening?)
Let's not jeer Khama but protest loud and un-laughing against his CORRUPT tendencies!