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Minimum education qualification must be required of those seeking public office

KGOSIETSILE NGAKAAGAE
I am not about to buy the trending load of tripe that our national destiny is safe in the hands of people who hardly have any formal education. Remember that this is the crop that ministers will be appointed from, and who by virtue of their proximity to power may eventually assume the number one office.

It is the same crop that will be expected to lead highly educated civil servants in weighty matters affecting the destiny of a developing nation struggling to survive in an increasingly complex and competitive world economy. This is the same crop that will welcome dignitaries from other nations and fail to speak proper English let alone to articulate and assert our policy positions. These are the people who on account of educational insecurities, will be intimidated by their subordinates or will seek to run their ministries through fear to hide their ignorance. These are people you will never hear say anything in parliament except when salaries of members of parliament are discussed. These are people who will be bullied at party caucuses because they cannot engage intellectually. So, I disagree. I disagree for the same reason that you don’t take your new BMW to a bush mechanic but to Capital BMW for repairs.

Well, perhaps the situation would be less critical if the President had the leeway to pull ministers from outside parliament. But the truth is, the President is stuck with the crop. And if he, also, turns out to be unlettered like them, then we are doomed. They are supposed to be his advisers in the exercise of executive power.  Let us not forget that South Africa became the butt of jokes because one of their president couldn’t count beyond a thousand and has assumed office purely on struggle credentials.

Just imagine a minister looking at a permanent secretary and saying, “motho wa Modimo, I don’t understand a thing you are saying but I trust you. Go ahead”, and proceeding to sign away the country’s future to another set of pseudo glass making economic hitmen. If you cannot engage on matters of the economy at an intellectual level and you only reason through your sense of touch and smell, then you have no business being in parliament. You are too dangerously close to power. You have no business being in a council chamber, either except as part of the audience. Politicians and those who vie for political office must upgrade.  Parties must start telling 2024 election wannabes that nothing short of a Diploma will suffice. I was on the phone with an employee of the Botswana Open University a while ago. I am advised that some diploma courses there go for as little as P5, 000 which is less that the suits these guys wear at the budget speech address. Imagine a member of parliament less on his head than on his

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body. I disagree.

Don’t even start telling me about Bill gates dropping out of school. Bill gates is an exception to the general rule. In any case, Bill Gates did see the inside of a university. Only, he didn’t complete his degree. He left university with sufficient understanding to engage at any level.

You are not about to standardise an exception. Why do you still send your children to school if they don’t need an education? Why don’t you point them to Bill Gates as the model to emulate and tell them to drop out and try business. Yes, some uneducated people have made a lot of money. But even more, are in prison because life has been very hard. Making money and running the country are two different things. Running the country is nothing like running a general dealer or rearing a Simmental heard through a skill you acquired from a dutiful father.

We are talking about going to represent us at the Pan African Parliament as well as other international bodies and being a member of select committees overseeing important state functions.  We are talking about holding highly educated people accountable, interrogating and making suggestions on key policy reforms. We are talking about bringing complex member bills to parliament and defending such as well as comprehending and critiquing those brought by Ministers.

When I made this point to a friend of mine he called me an educational elitist. Now, my friend has the whole alphabet after his name and will likely add more before he is fifty. What he was trying to tell me was that he never ever really needed his impressive resume from which he had eked a handsome living and guaranteed himself such an admirable career.

Now, I am aware that populists and those who ran away from school will say I am arrogant and do not respect the sacrifices made by parents who continue to lead us so well and struggle for us at family level with very little education.  Far from it. I salute all our fore-bearers who have achieved so much, often with very minimal resources and very little formal education. For them, I have nothing but admiration and respect. I am simply saying that the challenges of running a government are not the same as of running a family and I am sure that they will agree to that. In fact, I have many friends who have not gone far with school. I keep reminding them that the Diploma programs at BOU cost P5, 000.



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