Having grumped last week – about the need nowadays to certify just about everything – it is probably not the greatest idea to grump again. Therefore, please note, this is a simple observation, nothing more. Not even a small grump.
But week in and week out we do get treated to a regular and quite remarkable diet of acrimony as exchanged between advocates of the various parties. Those of us who are not involved must be watching this ever-on-going exchange with concern, perhaps even horror. Michael Dingake made an attempt in Mmegi the other day to convince us that it may be a lot better than it seems, that those who are described as mortal political enemies may go off into the sunset, hand in hand, like Ndaba and Boko when they went to Moscow together.
It is possible that in the good old days, a BDP stalwart could sit down happily with a BNF member. Seretse and Koma did, after all come from the same tribal group and district. But in 1967 the former did approve a charge of sedition against Koma, Henderson Tlhoiwe, Pretty Molefhe, and Klaas Motshidisi, which was hardly an act of goodwill. And as far as I have understood matters, there was no degree of goodwill between Seretse and Matante or indeed, more collectively between the BDP and the BNF with the former openly regarding the latter as a bunch of rat bags. Maybe they all sat together over a cup of coffee and shared ideas about the needs of the country. But it’s hardly convincing, is it? But let’s suggest, as a theory of sorts, that there is a profound difference in public life in the pre-diamond years and public life since then. It can hardly be otherwise because money has brought about change in every area of life both private and public and it is hardly credible to believe that the political scene is the one and only exception. In fact, there are three elements of public life which dominate – they are cash, vulgar, lovely, beautiful cash in great mounds like an Aladdin’s cave. The second is straight forward acid, nasty, poisonous acid or venom if you prefer. And the third, rather obviously, is confrontation. For many of us, the three together make for a most dismaying spectacle. Turn this way or that and only rarely can one escape into cleaner fields. The politicians are prone to remind us about botho when it suits their needs, but only rarely it seems do they exercise it themselves.
But take confrontation, which is now a deeply entrenched element of public life, confrontation with the judges, with
In the event, they have contrived to come down to our level and instead of dignity and respect, we are treated to a circus totally devoid of dignity. How could this disaster have occurred? But because memory is so remarkably short, let me remind you how matters stood six years ago and it should be obvious that these characteristics are not of recent provenance but a permanent element of our public life. Consider the following, culled from a medley of newspapers at that time. “Merafhe is a Liar – Sekai; Seretse Denies Kgafela’s Allegations; Kgafela Attacks Molokomme; Khama Is A Coward – Says Kgafela; Boko Warns Wayward Members; Hands Off Boko; BNF Veteran Attacks Boko; Boko Is A Dictator; Merafhe Shoots from the Hip; VP Recommends Psychiatric Attention for Modubule; Masisi Defends Merafhe; Modubule Defends Khama; Moatlhodi Defends Khama on Malema; Motswaledi Quashes Defection Allegations; Saleshando Dares Motswaledi; MPs Seek Khama’s Pardon; Councillors Exchange Profanities’, and one, my favourite, which suggested pleasing sensitivity to the public’s sense of decorum, ‘BDP Veteran Warns Against Self Exposure”.
It may well be that those active in the higher levels of public life will regard headlines such as these as reflecting what they may regard as the sensationalising gutter press.
The editors of those commercial newspapers, and indeed many other interested and concerned observers, may maintain, however, that these headlines do provide an accurate idea of the dismaying standards characterising today’s public life. But shifting attention away from the personal dominated headlines to those more impersonal provides no kind of relief or is in any way less dismaying. Take your pick from this selection also from six years ago.
“Botswana Least Corrupt in Africa; Corruption Rife at Southern District – Chairman; BDC Rot – Should It Have Come to This?; Millions Found in BDC Staff Accounts; GCC – The Most Corrupt; Corruption Rocks UB’s Research Institute; Ministers Are Corrupt – Tibone; Consultant Snubs Government on National Stadium Audit; Khama Moves To Thwart BDC Investigation; A Comparison Between Ghaddafi and Khama; Francistown’s New P562 million Airport Falling Apart; BDC Fires Executive; The Talisbanisation of Kgatleng” And so on, and so on.
It’s not very cheering, is it?