Mmegi Blogs :: Squalid Hospital, Squalid Public Life
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Friday 21 September 2018, 15:09 pm.
Squalid Hospital, Squalid Public Life

Our public life has totally gone down the drain hasn't it! Consider four of the past week’s newspaper headlines - ‘Councillors Decry Appalling State of Palapye Hospital’ (The Monitor 5 March), BCP Sues Gov’t over Khama’s Mosu Compound (Gazette 7th).
By Sandy Grant Mon 12 Mar 2018, 18:09 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Squalid Hospital, Squalid Public Life

‘Khama, Masisi & the BDP implicated in P250m scandal’ (The Guardian) and ‘Masisi, Dada, Olopeng, Khama linked to the P250m saga’ (The Voice) both of March 9.

 Perhaps it will all dwindle away and be forgotten. But this seems to be wildly improbable. Newspaper headlines of this kind would never appear if all is well. Whatever the outcome, our national self-respect and  esteem have taken a terrible beating with the probability that even worse is about to come.

But what have the last three headlines got to do with the Monitor’s report of the truly appalling state of the rat infested Palapye hospital where, within walking distance, and only recently the cream of Palapye’s society and the rest queued up to sing praise poems to the departing President and pay tribute to him with gifts in cash and kind in appreciation, presumably, for all he has done for Palapye.

Could none of those involved make any connection between their honoured guest and the ruinous state of their squalid hospital? This, if I remember correctly, is named after the mother of Palapye, the wonderful Mma Shaw who was one of the very few Europeans who were prepared to accommodate Seretse and Ruth on their return here.

She would shrink in shame and, without hesitation, have kept on berating all those responsible until they put matters right. As is obvious, matters no longer work that way because no one is responsible, and no one can be held accountable.

The frustrated Monitor team, unable to find anyone holding senior positions, was forced eventually to make contact with the hospital’s public relations officer who was, unsurprisingly, attending a meeting elsewhere.

But what could he have had to say, he the fall man? Today the linkage from the bottom upwards can be traced until it is eventually realised that the buck stops nowhere. Perhaps because there is no buck. But let me make a shift of topic, from one kind of squalid to another. Last week I referred to the several thousand squatters who are likely to be found on the free hold farms in the North East.

Then came Mmegi’s report about other squatters, not this time invisibly somewhere north of Francistown, but bang in the middle of the country’s capital city. It’s hard to believe isn’t it? But there they are, according to Mmegi, settled in Block Nine between the Palm Hotel and Mogoditshane where they have apparently been since 1989.

But now the absentee owner, the BDC wants them out so that it can create


a golf course to be enjoyed by the well heeled owner/occupiers of its proposed housing estate – the golf course having to use potable water in a country with a severe water shortage.

There continues to be something desperately shaming about all these yellow monster stories with the poor, when it comes to the crunch, being routinely evicted by the rich. Now I wonder if Brian Egner was right – that squatters who have remained in place for was it for 10 or 15 years have automatically obtained legal rights of possession and cannot be evicted? 

One of my problems here is that these evictions occur without a word from the churches, the MP, the Councillor, the human rights lobby – does one exist – and the legal rights fraternity. There has to be some limit to the depths to which we are prepared to descend.

Horrors, at the top with the NPF fund, horrors in the middle with the Palapye hospital – can this be the only one in the country – and the horrors at the lower end of our society? And then there has been much recent comment about the continuing land issue triggered by Guma’s impending motion in the National Assembly. Perhaps the situation of the Block 9 squatters might be one where re-possession might apply?

Land is a hugely emotional issue, but once broached in respect of the North East District tends to gather pace and now, it seems, embraces not only the freehold blocks but those cities and villages which, because of land issues are, it is claimed, unable expand – such as Lobatse, Gaborone and Tlokweng. I do earnestly suggest that these issues need to be treated differently, one by one. I have checked the Lobatse Development Plan, admittedly now dated, and can find no mention that land shortage is identified as being one of the town’s problems.

 Tlokweng is of course, an historical and emotional mine field being constrained by the international border with South Africa, with Gaborone and with the two freehold areas, Brink’s farm on one side and Ruretse on the other.

This does seem to limit any possible room for manoeuvre – but I doubt that this will reduce the feelings of resentment. Elsewhere, there cannot be that many options available.

The late President Masire, it was once reported, owned five farms in the Gantsi freehold District and then there is David Magang and Phakalane, and attempting to dispossess them might prove to be more than a major problem. 

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