New Year, new beginnings? Does a one-night calendar transition change it all? It doesn’t! A new year is supposed to usher opportunities for change – a fresh outlook and evaluation of direction. Fifty two years post-independence we are none the wiser.
This will be yet another delusion, full of drama. To know where you are going, you want to look at where you have been. To introspect and reflect of past failures. To draw lessons on successes. 2018 served a myriad of possibilities. Chart-topping was mass expectations as Ian Khama ceded the presidency to Mokgweetsi Masisi. Doubting Thomases could not for a moment believe it was the end of the Super’s reign. But was it?
When President Ian Khama poured rivers of money. Those with gigantic appetite to eat imbibed emphatically. The guzzling was huge it will take Olympic proportions of embezzlement to match the worst governance standards that characterise Khama’s legacy. Corruption Perception targets by Transparency International tumbled with Botswana slipping from 2nd to 5th in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance between 2008 and 2017.
Every Head of State should be allowed that one moment of epiphany – a revelation that transforms the nation. Such watershed moments should be within the confines of the law. At inauguration President Masisi declared himself a solemn subscriber to rule of law. Simplified, rule of law translates to individuals and government submitting to, obeying and being regulated by law.
In a clear indication of the abandonment of the old order, President Masisi prioritised ‘practical and realistic strategies’ to accelerate economic growth. That would be as good as it got. Like the wall of Jericho everything came tumbling down.
It would appear our lives are pretty thin. A country on the brink of being held ransom to satisfy elite’s ravenous appetite; and our aspirations limited to who prevails, as politics becomes blood sport.
Sacking spy chief Isaac Kgosi was quickly followed by a memo sent to the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) signalling the beginning of unthinkable changes that sought to push Khama’s hands away from the cog of power and maybe his fingers from the till.
Denying Kgosi back-door entry into government payroll via private secretary office of former President Khama sealed this miniature battle in the grander war.
The saga involving the death of around 90 elephants was another indication that rather than engage in a civil conversation about how we should govern ourselves, we opt to tussle out about winners and losers in the possession and distribution of power.
No one is ever completely wrong. Khama was compensated P50, 000 for chartering a private flight in what was a series of hard-line reservation of access to state wings.
The recalling of some of Khama’s support staff was yet another provocation that set a sour tone, amplified unease and undermined the transitional goal of a peaceful handover of power. Delinquent Permanent
Quite distressing, was the absence of compromise in a battle hardened field where winner takes all. This type of thinking prompts intolerance, division and conflict. Disagreements in politics easily breed irrationality. Look at what happened to the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
Khama’s shock announcement stating he was party president threw the BDP into a constitutional crisis. Whilst eating Christmas, a video with lyrics, ‘Morwa Khama, tlogela Masisi a buse’ went viral on social media.
How the song weaved its way into a season of giving, of love, of compassion is no surprise considering the BDP partied non-stop in court. Kamal Jacobs is amongst other things challenging the legitimacy of Masisi as leader of the BDP.
The rift within the ruling party continues to widen further. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, acting within her constitutional rights, has announced a bid for presidency. That sets the tone for a feisty 2019. Couple that with a general elections which could deliver a hung parliament! The air is pregnant.
The troubles of the BDP should not be a national crisis. Granted, they are the party in government. The opposition collective have their challenges. Chances are the BMD will drag the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to court by Easter – when those of Christian faith reminisce the death of the messianic boy born in a manger.
But politics shouldn’t be everything! We can’t be defeated to politics.
Government relaxed some laws around the liquor and entertainment industry. The move marinated festivities. ‘Delicious murdered’ folks in celebrations of excess indulgence with ears on the lookout for another serving of breaking news. This can’t be life!
Botswana will never open itself to a sense of transcendence if life is reduced to this type of politics. How will we build a million Pula a day industries outside the diamond and telecommunications sectors when life is trimmed to politics? While I might be wrong, I have hope that this is not as good as it gets.
As Charles Krauthammer explained in the introduction to his 2013 collection of columns, ‘Things That Matter’ “Politics, the crooked timber of our communal lives, dominates everything because, in the end, everything…lives or dies by politics. Get your politics wrong, however, and everything stands to be swept away…Politics is the moat, the walls, beyond which lie the barbarians.”
Brace yourselves! 2019 will be barbaric!