Time for Constitutional Reform - Batswana deserve own President

Sad times are upon us. A friend sent me the former president’s reply letter from Kenya and I’m told it’s circulating widely across sub-Saharan Africa.

It all began with a misunderstanding between leaders as regards their expectations of each other and now the nation must pay the ultimate price. And yes, we deserve it. It’s time our sand castle is blown away so we can build a house that can sustain itself. 

Disgraced by incessant acts to render him irrelevant, the former president calls his appointee the outgoing president and makes no effort to hide his contempt for him. There will be a reply from the Office of President and it will be as nasty.

The mutual resentment between two tax-funded offices which should be working cordially for the public good is palpable and by all accounts, it is a fight to the death. Such is the nature of African leadership and power. The nation matters less.  For a long time we have depended on the goodwill of our leaders to sustain our fragile democracy, and they did well. Our Constitution, some warned, was too fragile and needed an overhaul to ensure that leaders were kept in check.  Automatic succession, an inately undemocratic practice, was always going to be our Achilles heel. Ours was always a ticking time bomb. We were, in time, bound to run out of luck and come unstuck. And boy, we did. Very interestingly, with all these mistakes, there’s very little enthusiasm for constitution reform across political parties including the opposition. It does look like for the foreseeable future, Batswana will be stuck with this monarchical self serving arrangement where one person decides who will be their president.

It’s an utterly ridiculous dispensation, but then, we are Africa. It’s a pitiable fate so many of us thought at one point we had escaped, but to which we had only been temporarily excused. Murphy law has finally caught us with us.

We must elect out Presidents. We must elect them in order that when they mess up our country we can discard them. We do not want Presidents who are appointed on patronage and who are mortgaged to their predecessors and who must rent their offices.

True, President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s situation is a complex one. At one level you must commend him for the bravery to break loose and to seek to charter his own course. At another level, you know he betrayed his appointer’s express or implied expectations on the very basis of which he was crowned president.

But who really cares about that now. Ian Khama is former president and Masisi is President. What’s sad is that we have had both men on our faces in equal measure and very little of what we deserve as citizens.

The truth is, if Masisi is removed from office he’d be removed because he fell out with Khama and not on account of any other reason. We must accept then that we are just another African basket case.  Likewise, if Duma Boko becomes President it would be for the singular reason that he recanted and fell in love with Khama. So much for a beacon of democracy.

Meanwhile the nation is divided. The citizenry have taken sides. Instead of supporting their country, they are supporting their leaders. We cannot see ourselves outside the narratives peddled from the Office of the President or the former president.

It’s the Africans fatuous condition of sycopancy that may take generations to cure. As leaders fight for their survival, the citizens follow them sheepishly in own neglect.

We can all have our different interpretations of the same situation. Long after we have appointed the next President, the ruling party will be divided and the next government will be sadly renting its office.  It is not for us to decide who to support, but to divine how we can snap out of this sad political tragicomedy that has defamed us to the world and erased out credentials as a politically stable country that used to model democracy and good governance to the continent.

Batswana deserve their own President. The current situation where we have someone else’s president who can be instated and removed at the will of political strongmen is undemocratic.  Yes, we are learning the hard way but as is said, we deserve it. It is not Khama’s fault. Nor is it Masisi’s fault. We left the door open for the kind of problem we are going through and we have only ourselves to blame.  Constitutional reform should be the first after the elections. The current situation is untenable and disenfranchising. Lets amend this Constitution. In fact, let’s overhaul it.

It has passed its sell by date. We have enough brains to beat out a post liberal constitution that will not serve strongmen but the people. All we need is the political will. I am embarrassed by the letter circulating across Africa. I am disgusted. My nation stands disgraced. If you feel good about it, shame on you. You are just a part of the problem.

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