Known for reigning peace, Botswana has lost its virginity in the international arena, as for the first time in history, the President was asked about ‘political unrest’ by foreign journalists in Davos, which he denied.
Botswana used to be referred to as a ‘beacon of hope’ in Africa, but it seems it is no longer the case. This was because the land-locked Southern African country was known for being orderly with a functioning democracy, maintaining rule of law, respecting property rights and for possessing general harmony and economic prosperity for all. Recently though, our brand identity has gotten a beating. For the first time in history, Botswana has made headlines for the wrong reasons: election fraud, political prosecutions and persecutions, intimidation and posturing by government agencies against adversaries, accusations of a biased Judiciary thrown around, and being dubbed the corruption and tax haven of launderers. Furthermore, the north-south divide sparking regionalism and tribalism, rape, mob justices, killings, freak accidents by road and rail, global environmental headlines around hunting, economic hardships, unemployment and hopelessness, just did not help Botswana’s oft squeaky clean rep and shiny image, even at home.
Unfortunately worse, Brand Botswana is suffering under the ongoing political, legal and personal fights being displayed in the public. Brand Botswana is under attack because of the differences between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor, former president Ian Khama. Brand Botswana is a casualty in a war of attrition between the director general of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Peter Magosi and his own predecessor, Isaac Kgosi. Brand Botswana will be hard to repair if the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) pursues ulterior motives in prosecuting certain individuals. Brand Botswana would be irreparable if the Judiciary lacks independence.
Brand Botswana is unlikely to get better in 2020 if those entrusted with leading the country are tearing each other apart in the courts of law, fighting fights that one would have hoped ended on the other side of the 2019 general elections. Yes, the Court of Appeal will come up with some verdict in February 2020 to settle the petitions, but there is no denying that there will be no winner as the country’s good name and image would have been dented if not ruined by the mere fact of the mass dispute over the general election outcome. This is a first in the 54 years of Botswana’s independence!
More recently, questions have been asked of political funding. Foreign players have been accused of using their money to set the tone for the country’s democratic rule. South African based billionaire, Zunaid Moti allegedly rooted for the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and likewise a battalion of Indian and Chinese businessmen were supposedly for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Anything Botswana on the Google search engine immediately dredges up ‘Butterfly’, the DPP, Isaac Kgosi, Peter Magosi, National Petroleum Fund (NPF), money laundering, election petitions and Botswana being the second rape capital of Africa.
The headlines will dominate the search engines relating to our country for many years to come. The more these personal, political and legal skirmishes prolong, the more difficult it will be to recover our Brand Botswana that aspires for peace and tranquility. For now, Botswana has lost its sparkle, and it is being regarded as just another African country to the detriment of our developmental goals.
“Only those from outside my countryseem to imagine some unrest. There is noinstability in Botswana.”
- President Mokgweetsi Masisi