The Nation On A Cliff

On November 8, the President delivered yet another State of the Nation Address (SONA). He covered a vast range of thematic areas of focus, including the economy and employment, social upliftment, sustainable environment, and governance, peace and security.

I would really like to engage on the lack of context or even critical engagement with fact under social upliftment, and how what was actually shared were an ideal Botswana and the first lady’s project. However, like the Law Society of Botswana, and Unity Dow, I believe it is crucial to engage with governance, peace and security, the state of the judiciary and the rule of law.

I think one of the greatest pitfalls of our leaders is that they are leading a nation who, although largely educated, lack a desire to intellectually engage with issues which affect us as a nation. Of course, this is largely due to the legacy of the previous administration, where we were led through fear and intimidation, which have left us in a collective state of post-traumatic stress disorders of sorts, which plays itself out in various ways. To a great extent, many Batswana would rather steer clear of political conversation, because it does little to advance us as a nation, and because realistically, we are a passive aggressive nation, who would rather not deal with issues head on, for any real solutions. We would rather draw circles around issues, trying our best to not offend, as that would disrupt the fickle peace we imagine our nation to be founded on. In the language of spirituality, this passive aggression has left us with greater demons to fight, than we would have anticipated.

In the last part of the SONA, our President addressed governance, peace and security. This pillar of our democracy has been the most alarming in the last 12 months. Naturally, one listened with great intent here, wondering, are we going to address what is happening? Will we have substantive and appropriate solutions? Are we actually alive to how this affects us and our nation, both internally, as well as reputationally to the various observers who are watching?


In his speech, the President brushed over the judiciary, stating that the government continues to enhance service delivery in this organ. This, he purports, is done through increasing access to justice by way of increasing the numbers of courts around the country. Further, he stated, in an effort to ensure efficient delivery of judgements, the Chief Justice has been empowered to issue Practice Directives. In his address, amidst the tumultuous case against Isaac Kgosi, the Ppresident remains silent about the ways in which this matter is being conducted.

In the Law Society’s Open Letter to the Chief Justice, the political influences behind the appointments of judges in matters relating to prominent members of our society, being the previous president and the previous leader of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security, is greatly emphasised.

The concern raised here is that the judiciary, which should be an organ of government completely sealed out of the other two, is no longer being used to advance justice, as it should, but rather, that it has become politicised in undesirable ways. This has resulted in ambiguous decisions, which cast doubt on the extent of intellectual expertise and acumen amongst those handing down those decisions. Clearly, there is a failure in this regard, which needs to be rectified very soon, so as not to worsen the state of things.

Editor's Comment
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