Mmegi Blogs :: Import of the state of the nation address!
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Import of the state of the nation address!

On 4 December 2016, H.E Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama delivered State of the Nation Address (SONA) to Botswana Parliament as itís his duty to do.
By Michael Dingake Tue 20 Dec 2016, 16:18 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Import of the state of the nation address!

SONA has become a ritual that seems to have lost its import of appropriate national discourse about the nation’s socio-politico-economic condition.

It’s become a ritual like church sermon delivered by any pastor to a congregation whose sacred duty is to listen and swallow the biblical message without comment, except hallelujah amen. Little consolation being that congregants might live a holy life and enter heaven when they die!

Political rulers who copy the pastoral ritual do so at the nation’s peril. Witness how religious adherents have become zombies in the unfolding phenomenon of faith, gone mad; the consequence of swallowing hook, line and sinker, every word that falls from the pastor’s lips! People are taught to eat grass, literally made to graze like kine in the meadow; or congregants are submissively treated with disinfectants like insects, to cure common ailments generally treated by general practitioners in hospitals and clinics; in certain instances, believers are directed to drink petrol to cure physical conditions with nothing to do with engine propulsion.

Evidence abounds that the pastoral sermon has reduced the faithful to mindless objects;  humans are conditioned to dog status expressed in the saying: To his dog, every man is a Napoleon! We are conditioned to believe, mahoko a kgosi a mantle otlhe (kgosi’s word is law). Siya vuma chant of the sangomas, yes-sir to political demagogues, and hallelujah amen after every pastor’s word  makes humanity bankrupt and poor, when it should prosper and thrive through its god-given mind talent. Ours is a modern, inquisitive, democratic and dynamic world where give-and-take of dialogue is the norm. Obeisance diminishes our true godliness!  

How’s it possible that Batswana, pacesetters in democratic practice, continue to be led like sheep to the slaughter under a SONA ritual, wherein the president delivers his sermon and then flees the scene like a coward fleeing the Amargeddon? Why?  Of all the SONA comments, I have read or listened to, the most pertinent was by Honourabe Buti Billy, MP for Francistown East who said he, among other things:

“It’s not right for President to be reading SONA to the people and leave it to MPs to discuss without listening to them.

Even those who ….defend him at times will make mistakes because he understands what he was saying better than us. This will be for the good, let us not think of the bad only….” Elaborating the Honourable MP said: “….. This kills democracy as well. Accounting to Parliament helps the growth of democracy in the country since MPs also account to people who voted for them….”

It’s reported, answering a related question on why Khama (President) doesn’t attend Parliament during a Parliamentary Accounts Committee, Speaker, Honourable Gladys Kokorwe, said Khama doesn’t attend Parliament because


of his busy schedule. 

Without prejudice, disrespect or partisanship, may I politely ask: How does Madame speaker know of President’s busy schedule, when she isn’t his personal secretary, keeping his diary of official duties? Isn’t Madame Speaker simply apologetic, kowtowing  and probably and regrettably exposing herself as the President’s strategic yes-woman in the scheme of dysfunctional  checks and balances mechanism of our democracy? The President should attend Parliament, it’s his duty and the norm under a democratic dispensation.

His counterparts in the region, not only attend Parliament to debate the SONAs, they attend Parliament to answer questions at the pleasure of the MPs! Assuming HE as alleged by Speaker has a busy schedule, could anything be a higher priority than Parliamentary interaction with colleagues? It’s his first line of duty. Madame Speaker should get her bearings right, lest she confirms suspicion that she’s a fifth column in the House expected to be independent but not!

I want to suggest, the Honourable MP for Francistown East, should go farther and convert his idea into a motion to be debated in Parliament, hopefully enacted as a legislative must-do, so that prospective presidents likely to be misguided by misleading record of current administration, may be saved.

And the next generation of leaders may play their true roles as cogs in the wheel of a vibrant and democratic  dispensation, they shall inherit from this generation. We can’t have future Presidents who duck and dive accountability and expect the nation to smack their lips at the taste of half-baked, invalid SONA!

Besides Khama’s SONA missing basic qualities and ideals, some omissions need highlighting: 1. The BCL mine closure was a DISASTER in capital letters.

An unmitigated DISASTER! Had it been caused by an earthquake or a hurricane, the first citizen, HE the President, would’ve been the first at the scene to mourn the DISASTER. More than a month after DISASTER the President hasn’t set foot in Selebi-Phikwe  the scene of the DISASTER to commiserate with the miners and their families. Is he callous, cowardly or just shamefaced, because DISASTER was deliberate government-infliction? It remains a DISASTER never-theless! Why not refer to it as such, DISASTER, in the SONA? Passing mention of the DISASTER and remedial action is pathetic. 

Secondment of former Bank of Botswana governor for revitalization so-called, under SPEDU disrespects Batswana memory and communal intelligence;  2. 2016 was a year every Motswana was anticipating, a) Golden-Jubilee year and b)Vision-2016 year! Two resonant landmarks, unforgettable and non-recurring.  2016 SONA should have dwelt on the landmarks - why haven’t they happened or happened as they did? 3. Bogosi is in crisis. Where is Kgosikgolo Kgafela II? Why were these challenges swept under the carpet and not SONA subject?

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