Seven students of Matsha College in Kang have lost their lives in a horrific accident that could have been avoided. Many others are nursing serious injuries in various health facilities across the country. The families of the deceased are in mourning. The whole country is mourning. It’s great sorrow all around.
Even though this is the time of mourning, we cannot help but put it to those responsible for the safety of the students that they failed to do their job. Students were transported to their home villages in an unsafe mode of transport: an opentruck.
It comes as a surprise that in this age and era, students are still transported in open trucks after this practice was condemned many years ago as not only risky, but inhumane.
History shows that open trucks have killed many students in this country before. Poor families have lost sons and daughters who were going go be breadwinners in accidents that would have been avoided.
Oddly, the government says it has a policy on the use of open trucks to transport students, but from the looks of things the government continues to disregard its policy.
What happened is a clear example of policy failure. According to the Minister of Education, Unity Dow, “…From time to time depending on the situation, the policy maybe derailed.” That’s a huge statement. It’s so huge that it can be appropriated as admission of guilt by the government.
We understand that this is a sensitive matter, but we can’t help but blame the tragedy on the Ministry of Education. We know that no one has since taken responsibility for this unfortunate accident, but Dow and her senior officers should take responsibility for what happened.
But again this is Botswana; no one takes responsibility for anything. Under normal circumstances the Minister of Education should have long taken responsibility for this man-made disaster and resigned.
The basic principle of ‘ministerial responsibility’, as observed by countries using the Westminster system of governance, dictates that a minister is ultimately responsible for all actions by the ministry even without knowledge of transgressions by subordinates. In our case, as the head of the Ministry, Dow and some of her top education officers should take the blame for what happened and resign.
What happened to Matsha students should not be allowed to happen anywhere else ever again.
The only way to do this is to ensure that those to blame for this man-made disaster are reprimanded accordingly.
“Eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done and have not done”
- Hubert Selby