Mmegi Blogs :: The State of the Nation Address of 2017
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The State of the Nation Address of 2017

Consistent in this year’s SONA is that invariably more, not less, that belongs to the period is excluded.
By Michael Dingake Tue 14 Nov 2017, 17:58 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: The State of the Nation Address of 2017

The omissions make a mockery or distort the true state of the nation’s affairs  experienced in the course of the year, especially when the omission(s) may affect the future understanding or interpretation of the Constitution. Democracy is a dynamic process. Its growth or decline needs to be reported, analysed and critiqued accurately without fear or favour. It’s the only way the dynamism of the democratic process can be upheld, maintained, and driven.

His Excellency, Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s last SONA of his 10-year term was expected to wind up on a high note since he opened his induction on a high note that historical day of April Fool, the year of our Lord, 2008. Who can forget the new President’s roadmap of, Democracy, Development, Discipline and Dignity to be followed later by the fifth, Delivery!

Le goka! That was a start, with a bang. Why come to a close with a whimper? The incoming President, now outgoing, an ex-soldier was in a hurry to instill Discipline in a nation whose indiscipline was becoming an eyesore: road accidents that threatened to decimate Batswana road users; HIV and AIDS, which highlighted the curse we inherited from Adam and Eve, the curse of death; the nation’s productivity was falling, falling due to the abuse of alcohol, too much of a good thing stops to be good. Alcohol was the enemy, our President identified and took aim at, the alcohol demon with a punitive levy arrow!

Alcohol levy swelled levy collectors’ coffers, without depressing road carnage; the sight of overflowing cemeteries at weekends reduced drastically , no thanks to SKIK, but to his predecessor HE FG Mogae; productivity at the workplace hasn’t slowed down, it marches on; incidentally the local alcohol industry shed workers like trees shedding leaves in winter, the unemployment curve took a nosedive; compatriots addicted plus ordinary fun-lovers trooped across the borders over weekends to quench their addictive thirst, making them richer and rendering ourselves poorer; Batswana are reported to be the unhappiest nation on terra firma. Could alcohol control have something to do with it? Sobriety continues to elude Batswana.

In the Bible, we read Jesus came upon a sullen would-be feasting crowd, a picture of gloom bordering on doom; Jesus asked for pails of water which he magically changed into wine!

Lo and behold, the festive crowd came alive and festive! Did he never read this verse in the scriptures? The puzzle in the punitive is that, whereas general expectation was that the bulging levy wallet would be expended on the rehabilitation of the boozing community, nothing happened! Only in the current SONA were rehabilitation centres hinted to be in the pipeline. Jeepers, creepers! Was the OP in some state of amnesia or somnolence?

Democracy, top of the roadmap agenda


item, came under a heavy cloud after the results of the election of the BDP national executive committee were announced shortly after the party’s elective conference in Kanye, 2010.

The newly-elected committee was harassed, sidelined and marginalised. In the strongest internal protest within the BDP, a split ensued, giving birth to the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD)! The split continues to be a buzzing bee in the bonnet of the party.

The President, already tainted by allegations of domineering Parliament, oblivious of the separation of powers principle, after the disastrous election results (for the ruling party), 2014, panicked and couldn’t restrain himself any longer, instructing Parliament, normally empowered to make its own laws to regulate its administration, by ordering it to elect the Speaker of the House by a show of hands contrary to its rules, which explicitly directed secret ballot; this was to ensure President’s nominee was elected! Taxpayers’ money was wasted unnecessarily by having the matter taken to the courts of law where the decision was against the President. BDP MPs however had perceptibly been sufficiently intimidated by the open attempt to expose them as puppets on a string; they voted en-bloc in accordance with the wishes of the President. If Parliament could be so manipulated to comply with the Executive mind, would it be unreasonable to think the Judiciary, the third leg of the democratic dispensation , could remain unaffected?

The answer to the vexed question was precipitated by the executive-minded Chief Justice  when he asked the President to intervene when some of his subordinates petitioned him. Initially, the four judges petitioning refused to withdraw their petition or apologise when HE intervened.

Eventually, the four had to eat humble pie and apologise. The President had around the period infringed on the statute on appointment of judges. The Judicial Service Commission’s recommendation leaves no room for discretion for the President; in Omphemetse Motumise case, Khama used his discretion and appointed an alternative candidate. The Botswana Law Society (BLS) took the matter to court; his discretion overturned his attempted petulant delay merely helped to raise his humiliation bar, when BLS would have none of it!

Disrespect for separation of powers principle, is apparently the elephant in the room in African politics. The principle is viewed as regressive! We heard President Uhuru Kenyatta blasting judges who dared quash the election results which were in his favour; Edgar Lungu of Zambia warned fellow Zambians, ostensibly the judiciary and the opposition, not to ever think of following the Kenyan example! Bet these two will mention it in their next SONAs.

Khama who seems to share his Pan-African brothers’ disgust about the principle, should have taken the lead in his SONA, so that Batswana deal with the distraction once and for all!

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Tue 14 Nov 2017, 17:58 pm
Tue 31 Oct 2017, 15:43 pm
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